Working in a healing capacity with animals can be a wonderful way to get started expanding your gifts. A Facebook friend, Natalie, told me that the day her beloved dog died, a small, skinny cat walked up the street and came directly to her and her children, as if he knew they needed him. She said the name “George” popped into her head. That night, as the family members were still crying about the sudden death of their dear dog, George purred loudly and rubbed Natalie’s face, clearly telling her that it would be okay. Their new pet made it so much easier for everyone to adjust to the loss of their old one. Animals always know what we need and how to help us – the least we can do is try to heal them when they need our assistance.
I’ve always had lots of pets. When I was a child we had Goldie, a cocker spaniel; a boxer named Teddy; and a whole series of cats. When I went off to college, I even tried to take my beagle puppy with me, but the dorm supervisor made me turn around and drive it back home. What was I thinking?! After I got married, I also had dogs. For example, there was Dolly, our black Lab who would squeeze herself into the smallest space in the car so she fit in with all of the climbing and camping gear. She would then reinflate herself when we reached the campground. And I always had cats, as many as eight at one time.
When I finally accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to have children, I started to collect animals in earnest and lived close to them on a remote ranch in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I began with llamas, which I bred. Llamas are amazing animals! They meditate every day, kneeling and facing the rising and setting sun. The mothers are so devoted to their young and do all of their training with gentle admonitions and little nips, never with anger or violence.
One day I was standing in a field, looking at a possible llama for purchase, when the owner’s horse suddenly galloped up. I was so startled by such a large animal that I quickly climbed a nearby fence for safety; I’d never actually seen a horse up close before! Afterward, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. A few days later, I asked a neighbor if I could ride hers, and the rest was history. I wound up taking a whole year off from my day job as an attorney to immerse myself in what I called “the university of the horse.” Today, I still have my very first horse, named Influence. He is a flashy, black Dutch warmblood, just like the horse in National Velvet. He now lives right outside my kitchen window in well-deserved retired bliss.
Thanks to Influence, I learned to talk to animals and heal them. It began one day after I’d had him for about a month. I was riding through the desert chaparral when I heard him say, “It’s too hot, and my back hurts.” I was so surprised that I almost fell off. I jumped down and looked him in the eye and could see him laughing. He has quite a sense of humor! From that day on, I started listening very carefully and discovered that you can actually hear animals communicate if you simply quiet your mind and use your intention. Those are the same steps I take when I’m getting ready to do healing work with people: I form an intention to listen to them very deeply, way below the level of speech.
I wanted Influence to be familiar with all kinds of animals so he would be less likely to spook. My goal was to avoid a situation where I could easily violate the cardinal rule of always keeping the horse between myself and the ground. That was a great excuse to start a collection: I acquired a dairy calf, a billy goat, chickens, ducks, and a pig, as well as peacocks and ostriches. While I was adjusting Influence to every creature, including the herd of llamas he lived with, I was getting a pretty good education in how to talk to them. I took classes in using healing touch on animals, which is actually quite a solid foundation for doing the same practice on humans, since animals (especially horses) are much more sensitive to touch than people are.
The first step is listening to hear what the animals have to say. They will always tell you what their problem is if you just tune in and listen.
~ From Be Your Own Shaman, by Deborah King