For an animal to feel well and be joyous, we need to consider the whole animal: we need to nourish and honor its physical body, engage its mind in meaningful ways, allow for emotional connection and expression, and consider our animal’s spiritual gifts.
:: Meet Tucker, a black labrador mix. Each time someone walked by their house, which happened frequently, Tucker ran to the front door, peeked through the glass, and barked his little head off. As soon as he did, Jen called out to him, "Tucker, stop it. Enough."
But Tucker didn't listen.
This exchange happened several times throughout the day, and each time, Jen got more aggravated and annoyed …" KNOCK IT OFF, Tucker. ENOUGH already."
I couldn't help myself. The second night of my stay, Jen was preparing dinner, and I decided to try something.
As soon as Tucker jumped toward the door and barked, yet again, I said, "Good watchdog Tucker, thank you." My words stopped Tucker in mid-bark. He looked at me, then turned back to the living room and went straight to his dog bed. Message received, problem solved. By the time Jen came out of the kitchen to get on Tucker’s case he was resting quietly and Jen was the one with the confused look on her face.
:: Animals are so much more intelligent than we give them credit for. We are simply unaware of how purposeful our animals feel about their life.
Turns out, according to ASPCA's National Rehoming Survey, pet problems, among them
barking is one of the most common reasons owners surrender their pets.
:: When we understand that animals always have a reason for their sometimes undesired and sometimes unexpected behaviors, we can prevent animals from becoming a statistic.
Because animals are often so purposeful, let’s chat about it and shine some light on the topic.
:: All that shifted when the industrial age changed us to work less with the body and more with our mind and technology. And that changed the lives of animals tremendously as well.
:: When the work of horses was suddenly no longer essential and turned into entertainment, racing, and showing horses, the purpose was no longer about achieving something meaningful together but rather achieving a superfluous goal often without having the horse’s best interest in mind. Horses became a commodity you could sell or trade easily to upgrade yourself to the next level of commerce.
:: Dogs suffered a similar fate. Nowadays, people often buy or rescue a dog based on looks and size. In my work as an animal communicator I often counsel people who didn’t realize that the cute brindle package with the pointy nose they saw on the web would grow into a shepherd mix who will not be satisfied with a walk-in Central Park.
:: Many of the unexpected or undesired behaviors our dogs have are based on their genetic propensities and when they can’t fulfill their purpose their behaviors become a habit and with that annoying to us.
:: The story is not much different for our cats. Flitzer, my male cat is the surveyor and tracker on the property. Every day I see him inspect the edge of the flowerbeds, turning his tush toward the higher weeds, spraying and marking where he felt an intruder had stepped into his territory.
:: I often wish that clients would have called me before they brought a new animal into their life. Animals often tell me what they love to do and how they want to spend their time. And, the more you know about an animal the better of a match you can find.
Because there is often another animal purpose that needs to be considered.
:: Some animals have a specific purpose they are offering to their pack, herd, or people.
Some animals care deeply for people and therefore offer their energy and wisdom to them.
:: Here are some examples of what animals do for their people:
:: Dogs act goofy to lighten the mood.
:: Dogs also love to stare at their people in order to encourage the human to take a breath and join the dog in the present moment.
:: Dogs will bark to alert and like to be acknowledged for it.
:: Cats love to sit on our bodies. Sometimes to encourage us to breathe deeply, sometimes to bring ease to a bellyache or a cracked heart.
:: Cats take care of the perimeter of your property.
:: And horses assume roles in the herd, take leadership, survey the land, help balance the energy of an ill member, or track intruders. Each provides support and purpose for the well-being of all.
:: When your cat plops on your keyboard or your horse doesn’t show up at the gate, or your dog trips you up … stay open and curious, take a breath and consider the world through your animal's eyes. What purpose is s/he serving? Because, as we know there is always a reason for unexpected or quirky behaviors.
:: Meet your cat, dog, horse, or goat where they live in the now. And then use some of my techniques and ask a question. Or acknowledge their skills and talents.