Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: A Healer in Every Home: Dog & Cat Edition

If you buy one book on animal health this season, let it be A Healer in Every Home:  Dog and Cat Edition.  You won't regret it.

This little volume on the wonders of homeopathy and natural remedies will open doors and possibilities to help you not only preserve the health of your animals, but to treat them safely and effectively when veterinary help isn't immediately available.  From their perspectives as a certified classical homeopath, holistic veterinarian, and shelter director, authors Begabati LennihanDr. Margo Roman, and Shirley Moore have packed A Healer in Every Home with practical tips to help you manage dozens of common crises without resorting to drugs or despair.

I was midway through the book when my recently adopted dog, the rascally cocker spaniel, Bobby, got into a bag of cat food and unbeknownst to me, apparently ate about half of it.  Without going into too many graphic details, I'll just say that torrents of vomit and diarrhea ensued, and the over-the-counter treatments and probiotics I was administering seemed woefully inadequate to stem the tide.

But then I happened upon the section of the book that discusses what the remedy Arsenicum can do, referencing its ability to quell diarrhea.  As it happened, I'd gotten a basic homeopathy kit from Dr. Roman a few years ago, and fortunately for me and for Bobby, it contained a vial of Arsenicum pellets.  I mixed four of them in some spring water and gave the solution to Bobby, in two doses. As if by magic, the diarrhea disappeared and Bobby's gastrointestinal tract returned to a quiet, normal state with no further incidents.  It made me a believer.

And chances are, you will be, too.  Do you have a dog with itchy skin that nothing seems to soothe? The authors recommend the remedy Sulphur, at the 6c (low potency) dose.  For kennel cough, Save A Dog founder Shirley Moore uses grapefruit seed extract, which also prevents and cures giardia.  When her shelter dogs are whimpering from the loss of their former people, Shirley gives them a dose of the remedy Ignatia, with good results.  For puppies and kittens who are taken away from their mothers too soon, Pulsatilla (30c) is the remedy to try.

What makes this book so valuable is that it doesn't get overly bogged down in theory, but consistently presents actual case studies of real animals who were in physical or emotional pain, but who were then helped by homeopathics, supplements, and/or complementary therapies.  My only complaint is that A Healer in Every Home: Dog and Cat Edition doesn't have an index.  But that's just a small quibble. I'll say unequivocally that if you share your life with animals, it belongs on your bookshelf.

A Healer in Every Home: Dog and Cat Edition co-author Shirley Moore will be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming Conference on Complementary Animal Healing in November.  Her presentation, "Using Homeopathy to Heal Your Dog's Body and Spirit" will be on Sunday, November 11th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Reiki for Dogs

When one of our animals is hurting, be it due to a physical ailment or emotional pain, we want to help.  We want to heal.  We desperately want to do something to ease the distress.

In Kathleen Prasad's wonderfully insightful book, Reiki for Dogs:  Using Spiritual Energy to Heal and Vitalize Man's Best Friend, we are humbled to discover that in truth, though we can offer the gift of spiritual energy to our dogs, it is up to them to accept it. And hardest of all, perhaps, is to set aside our own egos, and honor each dog's decision to participate in healing, or not, even though we may anxiously wish to fix or cure his problem.  It's not up to us; it's up to him.

That can be a difficult message for us humans, who are so used to being in control.  When it comes to Reiki, or other forms of spiritual energy that can flow through us, we can best serve our dogs by allowing what will be, to be.  But that doesn't mean that we are powerless to help an animal in his hour of need, whether that is to support him through a health crisis, release fears from former trauma or abuse, relieve sadness and depression, or be fully present with him in the days or months or moments before his last breath.  If we know how to work with Reiki, we can be a conduit for this universal energy to flow to our animals where it's needed, creating a perfect sense of balance and peace and harmony.

But as Kathleen explains, Reiki "is not something you give to someone else."  Rather:

    "Those of us who use the system of Reiki are called 'practitioners,' not 'healers,' since we do not manipulate the energy or healing of others.  Through our compassionate intention, we simply open more deeply to the universal flow of energy, creating an 'energetic space of healing,' and in so doing, facilitate the healing process of others.  Reiki can do no harm and is supportive of all other healing modalities and therapies, both allopathic and holistic."

While Reiki practitioners who work with people usually do so by putting their hands in prescribed positions on their client's body, those techniques may not always be effective or appropriate with dogs.  After offering thousands of treatments to dogs and other animals over a period of many years, Kathleen has learned that they may not always welcome such direct, hands-on contact, and may even shun it by literally walking away.
Dogs, in particular, "are more 'tuned in' to the energetic realm," she says, and are so sensitive that they may find hands-on Reiki to be overpowering.  Her advice to Reiki practitioners who want to work with dogs is to be quiet, calm, and nonthreatening.  "It's our job," Kathleen explains, "to hold a space of lightness and peace in our minds.  In this space, the dog is more likely to relax and open to an energetic connection."

Reiki for Dogs is about much more than Reiki.  Based on her own experiences, Kathleen writes movingly about how we can open our hearts and minds to connect with our dogs on a level we may never have imagined.  She offers a series of meditations and exercises to enhance our ability to do so, and to release our attachment to a particular outcome.  If we can learn to do that, Kathleen says, "we also find it easier to be open to the possibility that our dogs may be helping us just as much as we are helping them."

Animal Reiki expert Kathleen Prasad is making a rare visit from California to the Boston area to be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming Conference on Complementary Animal Healing in November.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: The Animal Healer

Elizabeth Whiter didn't know she was a healer until her beloved Danish-bred gelding, Wow, was critically injured, in danger of losing his life.  He'd broken his neck in three places after leaping into a swimming pool, and the best advice vets could offer was:  euthanize him.

But instead of doing that, the heartbroken Ms. Whiter went to the barn and caringly put her hands on Wow, gently but deliberately stroking him, yet not really understanding why.

     "Instinctively, I was drawn to the areas of his body that needed my touch.  I felt incredibly relaxed, yet my attention was solely on Wow. . .My feet were like magnets, pulling me into the ground, and I felt a sense of calmness and strength throughout the whole of my body. . .I noticed that Wow was breathing to my rhythm; it was as if we were synchronized.  It was an extraordinary, harmonious moment.  A silence enveloped the stable and a feeling far greater than happiness swept over my body.

     "Wow seemed to be getting comfort from me, and, as I whispered to him, he began to relax and sigh.  I had never done anything like this before with him.  It just felt right.  I knew nothing about healing--in fact, at that time, I didn't even know what the term meant--but I loved my horse so much that I couldn't bear the thought of having to put him down.  I would have done anything to help him."

That experience was the epiphany that launched Whiter into a career in which she has offered healing to thousands of animals, and taught hundreds of other people how to do it, too.  Her horse, Wow, recovered, and lived happily and fully for many more years.

In The Animal Healer, Elizabeth Whiter, who is based in the UK, tells the story of her personal evolution as an animal healer, one who uses not only hands-on techniques but also, essential and macerated oils, to restore her patients to health.  What she discovered is that healing flows from the healer's "conscious intention," and from her heart.  Whiter stresses that meditation is the key to cultivating the focus necessary to effectively direct energy healing to others, be they animal or human.

But she goes a step further, offering stricken animals the opportunity to self-select essential oils and natural remedies that will bring them back into physical and emotional balance, a technique pioneered by Caroline Ingraham, and known as "zoopharmacognosy."

Whiter's devotion to her animal patients is palpable, and they respond in ways that are often both unimaginable and unpredictable, sometimes defying logical expectations.  The miracles come both from her energy work, as she consciously creates an "ocean of peace" for her healing sessions, and from her detailed knowledge of which oils and macerates are likely to soothe her clients.  She sees hundreds of animals each year, both in her private practice and as a "spiritual warrior" who tends to the needs of scarred dogs, cats, horses, and donkeys in rescue sanctuaries throughout the world, treating them not with sympathy or sadness, but with pure love.

Ultimately, The Animal Healer is the story of Elizabeth Whiter's voyage of the heart, one which has sent ripples out into the world.  I felt privileged to be able to tag along on her journey.