Hello and welcome to my podcast, "Let's have a chat!"
This is episode #80, hallefrickenlujah.
This week I learned about a new book called How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen. Of course, the title made me stop and listen because I know that not only people but also animals want to be seen, deeply seen, and heard.
The author, David Brooks, a journalist, talks about how he often leaves a party or some gathering to realize That nobody ever asked him a single question. He estimates that only 30 percent of the people in the world are good question-askers. The rest are nice people, but they don't ask. He thinks it's because they haven't been taught and don't display basic curiosity about others.
I often feel the same way. After leaving a gathering, I just recently asked a friend how many people asked you a question? And when she took a moment to think about it, she grinned and said, no one.
Many animals feel that way, too. Hence my tagline: animals just like us want to be seen and heard.
Giving animals the chance to be seen and heard is my mission; I will broadcast that for the rest of my life to make it happen.
And that leads me right into this week's topic. I asked Slick, a beautiful rust-colored Mule, a question. My question to him was, what is going on with you?
I have known Slick for several years. Known him as a sassy, in-your-face, and space kind of guy. Slick belongs to, or shall I say with, Hannah, the director of SYA, a donkey and mule rescue in NH.
For years, Slick has put in hours to help other mules and donkeys rehabilitate, integrate, and heal from neglect, abuse, and mishandling. Slick is empathic and has great leadership skills.
But like many of us empaths, he sometimes exhausted himself doing the work he does best. Whenever he exhaust himself, Hannah takes Slick out of the herd and provides him some R&R. In the past, he got to hang out in a large pasture with healthy companions to restore his energy. And when that got boring, Slick returned to the rescue herd to do his thing.
Because Hannah was pregnant and about to give birth, the rescue herd was smaller than usual, and before winter set in, I headed over to SYA with my mentee Emilie to check in with the current herd. Slick was in a paddock with two other smaller mules, Rudy and Bucky. When we stepped into the paddock, Slick gave us a cursory look, walked up to us, sniffed our hands for a second, and then moved to the back of the paddock to eat hay.
I was surprised he wasn't sticking his nose into our bubble or managing the two other mules he was hanging out with. Moreso, one of the other mules, Rudy, seemed to be managing Slick, moving him off the hay, his companion Bucky in tow.
So I asked Slick, "What is going on with you?" The moment I posed the question, Slick walked over to the fence that faced the large pasture he often grazed in. And I got it, he needed respite from Rudy and Bucky. When I checked Slick's Chakras, they were blocked from his tail to the top of his head. I sensed he needed restoration, and we offered him an essence called Posttrauma Stabilizer.
Slick took a moment to process the essence. What I mean by that is that he stood quietly, took it in for a moment, and walked around in the paddock, sort of aimless. I dowsed for another oil and came up with Thieves, a cleanser and clarifier.
When I approached him to offer Slick the oil, he walked away. Hmmm again. Thai was not the mule I knew. So I was curious and asked again, What is going on? And he had more to say.
Before we knew it, he gave me a laundry list of complaints.
He needed grass time. He needed human time. He needed space. And he needed his friend, a horse named Gus, who also belonged with Hannah. Gus had recently been injured and moved to the paddock next door to heal.
So, Hannah and I ran through the laundry list to see what could be done to help Slick. Because the herd was so small, the large pasture was already closed for the winter. But there was a smaller field Slick could go into, and Hannah would organize that.
When it came to human time, it got tricky. Because, like I said, Hannah was two weeks short of giving birth. She wasn't and wouldn't be able to see Slick as much as he was used to.
We had to explain that to him. However, at that point, Slick was hiding in the barn, not to be seen.
His complaint that he needed more space could be resolved by giving him grazing time, but then I realized that missing his friend had much to do with it, too.
Turns out Gus was the leader of the herd. And with him leaving, Rudy had taken charge. Without Gus, Slick had to deal with Rudy, the pushy one by himself.
Isn't it fascinating to realize the layers of herd dynamics?
Gus leaving due to the injury made Slick less empowered. Rudy taking over caused frustration. Hannah not seeing him as often as usual made him miss another ally. So, it was not surprising that Slick was off his game and wanted to go into a pasture to reorganize himself.
As we had fleshed out the details, and Slick was still wandering around on the opposite side of the paddock, it seemed appropriate to shift gears and focus on Rudy. I checked his Chakras, and several were out of balance. I dowsed for an oil, and Emilie took it over to Rudy and offered the open bottle to him. Rudy took one sniff, stilled for a millisecond, and returned to his hay.
Slick, who had observed the interaction, perked up.
And, friends, you can't make this shit up. Within milliseconds, Slick walked over to our little group and touched Emilie's hand with his muzzle. I went, let me check Rudy Chakras; low and behold, they were balanced.
I looked at Emilie and said, "That nuzzle was his thank you for helping Rudy come into balance,"
Next, Slick gently touched Emilie's face with his lips, sniffing her up and down.
Then Slick turned to me and touched my hand. I assured him, "Yes, I know this is a lot, and I'm so glad you told us so we can explain a few things to you."
So, I began to explain to Slick that he'd get grazing time, and as I did, he walked over to Hannah, touched her hand, and then sniffed her face, too. Hannah scratched his face and massaged his TMJ, where the mule held much of his stress.
While she did that, Emilie had a hand on his barrel while I, on the other side of him, laid my hand on his hind end. We stood there for a while, Slick taking in the attention while we explained why things were how they were and what steps would be taken to resolve some of the issues.
Once we had shared everything there was to share and scratched his neck, ears, and chest for a while longer, Slick eventually turned around and walked into the barn. Rudy and Bucky followed him. And then all three stood peacefully in the barn together. The energy had shifted. Peace was restored.
Asking one question, "What is going on with you?" brought on a major shift in this herd.
And it reminds us again when we see an unexpected behavior, in this case, the usually curious mule being standoffish, we have to put our investigator cap on and ask questions.
What had changed? In Slick's case, a lot.
His person wasn't as available as usual, the environment was reduced to a smaller winter paddock, and the herd had changed because of Gus moving next door. Those are three huge changes in this mule's life.
And you don't need to be intuitive - though we all are - to realize that those changes can also change the attitude and well-being of an animal, especially one that is empathic like Slick.
Someone else might not have worried about those changes. But Slick, being Slick, he took it all to heart and all too hard.
After we attended to the donkeys and Gus in the neighboring paddock, we stood by the fence to say goodbye to Hannah. That's when Slick returned to the fence and gave Emilie some smooches over the fence. Hannah captured a photo, which is the cover shot for this episode. As you can see, his face is so soft, and their connection is so sweet.
Driving away, Emilie and I reveled in the shift we got to facilitate and witness. Seeing how Slick went from being confused and uncertain to being his personable self is my fuel.
With this episode, I invite you, if your animal seems out of sorts, to ask her or him the question.
What is going on with you? Then, observe and listen.
Stay open + curious. Until next time, goodbye and Auf Wiedersehen!