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#75 Is Stress Stacking Up?

Hello, my wonderful listeners … some weeks, I have so many topics on my mind that I need to do a little meditation before seeing which story is most important to go out into the world.

Our dog Scout inspired this episode. Scout is an excellent example of how stress can build or stack up and cause the animal to become anxious or unwell.

Over the last two years, Scout healed two CCL injuries (cranial cruciate ligament, in humans called ACL) with the help of Herbs, chiropractic, and laser treatments. We are so glad we could heal those tears without surgery, as it is tremendously hard to keep a working dog quiet for the recovery time - often up to several months.

Scout's injuries healed well; most days, he walks without a hitch, and he can still run, though not as fast as he did when he tore the ligaments in the first place.

Scout also has a phobia of wind-like noises. One year, for Christmas, David got a drone. As he set it up, he pushed the lever and let the thing fly in our living room. We were all surprised and Scout the most. When the drone went up toward the ceiling, he spooked and ran to the door.

After we caught the drone, I showed it to him, explained what was happening, and let him sniff it. Of course, we should have done that before letting it fly, but … once we know better, we do better, to quote Maya Angelou.

Ever since Scout is concerned when he hears wind … be it a storm whipping around the house or an exhaust fan in the kitchen, the moment Scout hears it, his eyes go up to the ceiling, and he is looking for a crazy UFO to land.

Thirdly, Scout is my keeper. He is highly tuned into me. When my energy is revved up, meaning my nervous system is working in flight, fight, and freeze mode rather than in rest and relaxation mode, he is on me like white on rice.

Now, recently, my parents were visiting for almost a month. And, as much as I love them, it is challenging for me. I grew up as an extrovert who eventually turned into an introvert. While my parents are still expecting the Nicole from the old days, planning, entertaining, and ready to be available at anyone's beck and call, my lifestyle is totally different these days. I require lots of quiet time. I plan little and go with the flow whenever I can.

As I navigated the line between old Nicole and current Nicole, sometimes better and sometimes worse, Scout started to hide in the basement.

At first, I felt he went because it was cooler down there. We had a few hot days, and our house has many windows that allow the sunshine and heat to enter easily. On one hand, I knew it was cooler down there than in the main part of the house. But when I sat on the sofa with Scout at night, getting into our little healing session, I could feel a lot of heat around his neck and shoulders. And when my parents and I were in the kitchen, cooking dinner and something cooked in a pan and making a sizzling noise, Scout asked to go outside.

Since my parents left, Scout has again stuck to me like velcro. We had seen the vet for blood work, and all seems well. So, the other day, I asked Scout what was going on.

Like many older dogs I communicate with, why is he more sensitive and reactive to energies?

You know what his answer was … because their body is hurting.

And when their body hurts, everything else becomes 'another thing' that needs to be dealt with. Me sizzling something in a pan sounds almost like an exhaust fan. It actually does when you pay attention; at this point, Scout is maxed out. He cannot handle the noise of the pan because his nervous system is already overwhelmed by the accumulated things that have happened to him over the last few years.

So, what can I do for him?

Each of us, human or animal, is affected by five areas that make up our life. Scout is affected by the people around him. If the people are stressed, he feels it.

He is affected by his pack. Our cats and horses. If they are well, he doesn't need to worry about them.

Also, is he living purposefully? Does he get to do the work he likes to do? Collecting the horse's feed bowls out of the pasture. Taking care of me.

Then there is his environment. No fox, no stress. If Foxy shows up, Scout's adrenaline soars.

And then the overall health situation affects our animals' well-being. During the CCL tear, Scout had to put most of his weight on his front end, his shoulders. His shoulders might need more attention than I can offer during our hands-on healing at night.

So, people, pack, purpose, environment, and health all play a significant role in making for a happy, healthy pup.

The most important thing to help Scout is for me to take care of me.

I am in charge of my nervous system. A recent acupuncture appointment - I hadn't had one in close to twenty years, helped release a lot of tension I was holding in my root and sacral Chakra. I also scheduled a massage and a chiropractic appointment. Taking care of myself has not always come naturally. But luckily, my animals reflect what I need, and so I follow their guidance.

Thankfully, the rest of Scout's herd is doing well. No complaints from cats or horses.

And Scout is purposeful. He happily carries the bowls out of the pasture, and from the deck, he watches over the property to keep predators out of his kingdom.

His environment is quiet again as well. No extra people, no late-night chats with my mom on the sofa. Less activity altogether.

That leaves the health part. As I mentioned, we saw the vet, and Scout now takes certain Chinese herbs to help with a few little imbalances of the liver and kidney. But otherwise, he is healthy. Yet that heat around the shoulders is still a concern. So, I asked Scout if he would like a professional massage, and he said yes. Luckily, we have a person right in our neighborhood who offers Canine massage and Reiki. I will reach out to her and book a session for Scout.

Looking back on all the small and big things Scout has experienced over the last couple of years, I can see how it has stacked up in his body and mind. I sense that by bringing in a new person, the massage therapist, she can shift the energy in new ways.

We get stuck in patterns. Stress patterns, Healing patterns.

Just like the acupuncture appointment helped me relax in a brand new way, I hope that Scout can relax and release a different layer of tension under the guidance of a new person and modality.

As we get older and our animals get older, keeping stress at bay and inviting relaxation in is paramount. Stress causes tension and inflammation. Scout's shoulders bear witness to that, as do my root and sacral Chakra. Tending to those signs of unease is essential.

And it always starts with us. Sometimes, we can't change the environment, purpose, or pack, but we can always change ourselves. We can seek expansion. We can lean into ease. We can breathe ahhhh… and let out the pressure we hold in our chest … for the betterment of ourselves and those around us, especially our animals.

Our animals show us what they need. And they are also an excellent barometer of what is happening around them. I invite you if your dog seems out of sorts. If your cat is acting out of character and if your horse is edgier than usual, take a deep breath and look at the five areas that could affect their well-being. And then, figure out how to bring more ease into each segment.

I will keep you posted on Scoot-Matoot's experience with the massage therapist.

As always, I am open and curious as I explore the world through my animal's eyes.

Until next time, be well and breathe deeply!

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