Hi, sweet listeners. Once again, my mind is blown open, and my heart is wide.
Wait 'til I tell you this story from my recent work as a relationship coach for animals and their people. Yes, one might refer to me as an animal communicator. But what I do is much more the work of a relationship coach. I help the animals express their side so everyone can be on the same page.
This recent experience will show you exactly how much my work can help a dog and his person connect, understand what the other was going through, and how they came up with a shared solution.
Without further ado …
Mr. Willoughby, a 15-year-old Golden Retriever, wasn't doing well. His person initially reached out, wondering why Mr. Willoughby was barking so much. When I tuned in to the dog, I felt his biggest concern was the hind end. More so, he was annoyed that the hind end wasn't cooperating. It was hard for him to get his butt off the floor. It was hard for him to propel himself forward. Everything was so cumbersome.
When his person sent me a video of Mr. Willoughby barking, I could tell right away that this particular bark said, "I need water." Mr. Willoughby had figured out that if he couldn't get to the water, the humans could bring the water to him.
I offered the dog a remote Chakra Balance, which he gladly participated in. Then, I helped his nervous system come into balance so his muscles could relax and his bones could find their way into alignment.
Later that evening, Mr. Willoughby's person texted me, "He greeted me at the door. He hasn't done that in over four years."
The next day, I received a video of Mr. Willoughby waiting at the door, tennis ball in mouth.
I checked in with the dog for three days. Once he consistently stayed balanced, meaning his Chakras remained open and swirling, I told my client that my job was done until I heard otherwise.
Now, there is another side to this story. Mr. Willoughby and his person were staying with family while looking for a new home. Mr. Willoughby's aching body limited their search to homes without stairs. And his persistent barking was hard on potential neighbors.
My client had found one place that sounded perfect for him but not for the dog. With Mr. Willoughby now a bit more on his feet, the search continued for the right home.
Five days later, my client told me Mr. Willoughby was still barking like crazy. And it was not only when he wanted water. I tuned in to Mr. Willoughby and, in my mind's eye, saw him staring up like a wolf while barking. His person confirmed that, yes, the dog was staring into the distance.
For a second, I wondered if he was senile. Many older dogs bark during sunset, trying to find their bearing. But that idea didn't connect with Mr. Willoughby. Something else was going on. Since the pair lived near me, I decided on a house visit. Seeing the dog, putting my hands on him, and getting a sense of his well-being in person would be good.
On the day of our appointment, Mr. Willoughby was in distress. His person had texted that his breath was rapid, and he seemed very uncomfortable. He had barked so much the day before and was still at it this morning. My client had given the dog more pain meds and contacted the veterinarian. I packed up my tools and got in the truck. As I tuckered down the hill, I felt like I was in a cocoon. And the cocoon was connected to Mr. Willoughby. Like he had pulled me deeply into his field. I wanted to stay there. I was a pure presence in the presence, if that makes sense. I felt the line on the right side of the road was telling me to 'stay in my lane,' not to veer off. And I got it. I was not to veer out of the cocoon. Pippa came to my mind. Once again, she is the white dog with black spots and the formerly athletic body, who explained to us in podcast #37 that being present means we are aligned in time + space and, with that, have access to the Universal knowledge needed for this moment.
If I stayed in the cocoon, I would be the pure energy channel we learned about from Gem in podcast #
And how would I veer out of the cocoon? Easily.
If I were my well-domesticated self upon arrival at Mr. Willoughby's house, I would say hi to the dog, then acknowledge the people, have a quick chit-chat, and then go to work with the dog.
At that point, the socialization would veer me out of the cocoon. And my energetic connection with the dog would be interrupted. Not to say I wouldn't be able to get it or some version of it back. But.... you see my point here/
Halfway down the mountain, I set my intentions to override my people-pleaser personality. I would stay with Mr. Willoughby in this cozy cocoon and be open and curious to see what happens when I do.
When I pulled into their driveway, I saw Mr. Willoughby and his person at the end of the driveway under a portico. The man sat in a chair while the dog lay by his feet. The man's mouth moved, saying, "Nicole is here." But Mr. Willoughby was already on his feet, barking and heading down the driveway. The man's face looked surprised.
"Well, hello, Mr. Willoughby," I said as this 85-pound mass of golden locks and wagging tail headed my way. I met him halfway, and after a sniff and a pet, we sat down on the asphalt.
"How is it going?" I asked while mushing my fingers into his thick coat around his neck.
After a few strokes with my fingers, I pulled my hand back. Waiting to see if the dog wanted more. He raised his paw and pawed at me. The international sign for more.
I put my hand back on his neck and wandered down the spine, drawn to his hips. When my hand reached the hip area, I noticed Mr. Willoghby panted more. I didn't feel invited to keep my hands on his hip. It was too much.
When I took my hand away, he pawed at me again. Ahhhh, I got it. He was in the unfortunate spot of wanting a physical connection but unable to stand the touch. So I sought out comforting and comfortable areas and touched him there.
After a few moments of connecting, I sensed we needed to move into the shade. With little encouragement, Mr. Willoughby got up, waited for me to get my bag out of the truck, and then walked back to where his person stood in the shade. I greeted the man, and we settled in the sitting area. Mr. Willoughby sat by my feet, and I asked him if he was ok with me assessing his Chakras, and so we did. He was out of balance and picked an essential oil called … here we go again, people, we can't make this magic up … Acceptance.
Mr. Willoughby took a deep sniff, and so did his person.
When I rechecked the Chakras, all was balanced and swirling again.
Time to assess the body.
During my drive down to see the dog, my neck had cracked and opened the left side of my neck. When I rolled my head around to process the adjustment, I heard Mr. Willoughby thanking me for helping his neck, too. When I checked his neck in person, I could feel the intense strain the neck was under from balancing the hind end. I told my client how my neck had cracked, and he, too, had felt his neck snapping and adjusting. It is not unusual for us to feel our animals and vice versa.
As I further felt down along the body, my pendulum slowed to a crawl around the hip area. There was very little energy.
Suddenly, Mr. Willoughby, lying down until that moment, shifted into a sitting position and barked. Nose pointing to the rain cutter, he barked and barked. I wondered if he was calling the family dog in the house, but that didn't resonate.
I looked at Mr. Willoughby and asked him, "Who are you barking at? Tell me, who are you barking at? Someone from the other side?" As the last words slipped out of my mouth, I realized they were a match. I asked the man, "Is there a dog on the other side?" The man said, oh, yes, my parent's dog is in the house."
I clarified, "I mean, is there a dog who has died and is on the other side talking with Mr. Willoughby." The man said, "Yes, his sister, Barley."
I turned to the dog, "Oh, my goodness, are you talking to your sister on the other side? Is that who you're in touch with?" Mr. Willoughby laid down and rolled his back toward me, exposing his belly. I ran my hand over his furry side and his belly.
Suddenly, I could hear the message in the barks he had busted out a few moments ago.
'I'm on my way. I am on my way."
I looked at the dog's face and asked, "Are you telling her you are on your way? That you are just finishing up a few things here on earth?"
Mr. Willoughby rolled again farther on his back, exposing his belly.
When he came to rest on his side again, I looked at his person and told him that Mr. Willoughby was half in and half out of his body. He was already telling his sister that he wouldn't be long. I explained to the client that Barley, after leaving her body, had returned to being pure consciousness. She was all around them.
I told Mr. Willoughby that he would join Barley soon and that both dogs would hang around their person.
As I petted the dog's side, I heard, "Swim, swim. Swim. Swim, swim, swim."
I looked at the man and asked if those words meant anything to him.
He answered that both dogs had loved to swim in their former pool. Mr. Willoughby always retrieved the tennis balls in the pool, leaving one for his sister.
I turned to Mr. Willoughby again, "You will get to swim, swim, swim with your sister soon. Your person has to figure out a few logistics, but the time is near, and you will no longer be in pain."
Mr. Willoughby sat up again, scooted himself over to the right to be near his person, and put his face into the man's hand. "Now he is concerned about you," I said. He wants to know how you will deal with losing him. He says that his leaving marks the end of an era. He had hoped to be part of the next move but realized it was time for him to move on, or better, out of his body.
I asked Mr. Willoughby if he wanted to share anything with his person to ease the pain of losing him.
"If I release you, you can release me," the dog expressed.
And it was so clear what he meant. Without the dog, my client could pick any home that suited him.
"That is my gift to you. Mr. Willoughby continued. "You took great care of me and my sister. This is my gift to you, please accept it."
Well, bring on the tissues … what a sweet thing to say!
At that point, Mr. Willoughby wrestled himself onto all four paws, stepped forward, and barked at the front door. The client and I looked at each other. We knew this bark meant the dog needed water.
Later that afternoon, I got a text.
Mr. Willoughby transitioned with a smirk left on his face. He's a good one. He knew where we were going and strutted his stuff in front of the staff. Thanks for coming down the hill to help us.
That night, I went on the website of the University of Vermont and signed up for UVM's Companion Animal End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate.
This program has been on my want-to-do list for a year now.
My most sacred work is helping animals and their people move through the end of life and transition with love, dignity, and compassion. Taking this course will deepen my understanding and love of my service.
Animals are our companions, our mentors, and our guides. Mr. Willoughby showed me that magic happens when I stay in the cocoon. He reminded me of my passion and nudged me to sign up at UVM.
Maybe he also touched you in a special way or reminded you of your animals, who always look out for you.
And, if your animal is nearing the end of life, or if you know of a friend who might need to connect with their animal … please forward this podcast. It is always better to speak before than after the transition. That way, everyone gets to share their thoughts and ideas and be part of the plan for a peaceful transition.
I am sending you a big squeeze through the ether … until next time, goodbye and Auf Wiedersehen.