November 26th, 2011 by LittlestMusher | Posted in Move Beyond Chronic Pain
If you like dogs, nothing makes your heart sing more than seeing one of those 4-pawed ambassadors of goodwill wag their tail, grin at you, bark with excitement at the prospect of a trip, or seeing their bright laughing eyes fixated on you for play, a treat or attention.
If you’re a dog owner, past or present, you already know how petting a dog can pick you up emotionally. You’ve experienced how their antics or even just their presence in your house can make you feel better, how taking them for a walk will literally put the bounce back in your step, and how the energy in your house is different when they’re there vs. when they’re gone.
Anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of dogs are experienced every day by dog owners, and backed up by an impressive pile of research in the health community. Dogs have been shown to lower blood pressure, ease depression, engage special populations like the elderly and the autistic, detect cancer and impending seizures…in short, use their special gifts in a wide variety of ways to enrich our lives and be of service to humans. Domesticating the dog has been one of the best moves humankind has ever made.
Let me challenge you to think about your dogs and their unique talents in a more in-depth way, because we can all get MUCH more out of our relationships with our dogs. Think about your dog(s) as mirrors of your spirit and soul.
The basic tenet of our work at Life…Through Dogs is that dogs mirror how we are living our lives. They provide crystal clear non-judgmental feedback on how we are living in this moment, and in particular, the congruency and integrity with which we live — or lack thereof, which often is a primary cause of stress.
Mirror, mirror is the dog
My experience, over many thousands of hours of training and working with dogs in a variety of activities and sports — agility, flyball, obedience, SAR and most especially sledding — has shown time and again that the dogs’ special connection with humans allows them to “see” us energetically. They respond to us as the bundle of energies, emotions, thoughts, and actions we are.
My greatest teachers have been my sled dogs, for a number of important reasons. I worked with them consistently for 10+ years to learn the skills to travel through the wilderness by dog team…with the goal of completing the Iditarod Sled Dog Race to celebrate my 50th birthday. I went into it believing I needed to learn how to train and run sled dogs — and over the course of many thousands of hours and miles it dawned on me that the dogs were teaching me FAR more than I was teaching them.
When you spend that much time together, working toward accomplishing a monumental goal and overcoming adversity at every turn, you get pretty close. My relationship with my sled dogs is as intimate as two different species could be — we’ve seen each other at our worst and best — and I have come to understand how the dogs have taken me places not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually, that I could not go on my own.
Humans are often visual and auditory focused — we often use our primary sensory inputs of sight and sound to get information about and interact with our world. Dogs however, engage with their world MUCH more fully, utilizing not only all their physical senses, but responding to the energies around them.
That is a great gift for us as humans, because we can’t hide from them. They know when we’re sad, upset, happy, frustrated, troubled, in pain. They accept that about us and interact with us to help us.
Think of your dog as your living, breathing, thinking, feeling and interactive mirror that they are…for you!