Posts Tagged ‘human animal bond’

Love Transcends Death and Species

The Huffington Post video in their impact session presented this photo  that has stirred a nation regarding a soldier who died in war and his dog by his casket.  The commentary is interesting. Yet, what struck me was how the hawkeye, the dog, knew that his deceased friend was in the casket and what was going on in his mind as he lay down next to the casket while the entire funeral service was taking place.  It is promising that the nation was touched by that scene.  It continues to support the kindred spirit projects theory, that the human animal bond touches the absolute deepest parts of our heart and emotions. These connections go deeper than we can currently understand or appreciate.  Dr. Penny Lloyd shared some her most profound insights regarding the loss of her equine companion of 29 years.  Clients throughout my decades of veterinary practice would occasionally share how they grieved more for the loss of their animal friends than they did for different family members, commenting that they felt more unconditional love and no “baggage” from their kindred spirits.  From the animals perspective, I would often see animals grieving from the loss of a family member or other animals that they shared their lives with.  One 12 year old schnauzer stopped eating almost completely for a couple of months and had dramatic weight loss after the death of the elderly husband in the family.  The wife took her anorexic schnauzer to numerous veterinarians, specialists etc. to see if there was something physically wrong.  Despite numerous blood tests, radiographs, mri’s etc., no one could find anything wrong.  She brought her dog to me as a last option, hearing that I practiced a more buy levaquin online holistic approach which also included grief counseling.  Upon reviewing all the thorough veterinary medical records and conducting my own physical examination, I agreed that there was no evidence of any physical illness at this time.  I prescribed a homeopathic remedy for grief and within 24 hours the dog began eating again and continued to recover.  The client was so amazed that she realized that she was still grieving as well and asked if she could take the remedy.  I explained to her that I am a veterinarian and did not prescribe to people.  However, the choice of remedy was based on what was used for humans.  She decided to take the remedy based on her own choice.  She commented afterwards that she had this “funny” feeling of the release of the depth of the grief.  She still missed her husband tremendously, but felt that the deep pain had somehow disappeared.  I imagine that that his how her dog may have felt as well.

There are numerous examples demonstrating how animals grieve for others.  Truly these moments transcend death and species. The insights that I have gleamed from the  story  of the labrador retriever, hawkeye grieving for his deceased companion are: 1. animals grieve similarly to humans and 2. animals sense the death of others and perhaps even sense their continued presence even after death.  In addition, I believe that the deep connections that we feel when we see animals behave similar to human behaviors has its roots somewhere deep in our psyche.  The Harvard entomologist, Dr. E. O. Wilson termed this belief “biophilia”,  an innate connection to be in nature and with all animals.

What are your thoughts regarding this photo and the nations response?

Retreat: From a Moment to Eternity Part 2

I have received many fascinating responses to the post on retreat.  There are many quotes on the importance of retreat time. One of the simplest, shortest personal retreats can be summed up in this quote: “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”…Etty Hillesum.   Some horse clients commented that the time on their horse is their retreat time. They go into such a state of peace when they are on their horse.  Winston Churchill once stated that “Their is no wasted time when in a saddle”.  Other clients felt that the time grooming their horse was a mini-retreat, while others felt the time mucking the horse stall was a meditative retreat.   I actually used to call mucking the stall “muck therapy” as over and over again I heard how meditative and peaceful different people found it.

My dog clients responded saying that the time they walk their dog is like a mini-retreat in their day and cat clients commented that the time grooming and petting their cat was their retreat time.  One can see that time with our kindred spirits can indeed quiet our minds and nourish our souls.  When we do not have enough time to take an extended retreat, these  quiet moments in our day are essential for quieting the busy mind traffic and creating mini-retreats, momentary retreats.  It is true too that each breath can be a retreat.

One of my meditation teachers, Mingyur Rinpoche has just chosen a more extended retreat, three years!  This is a very traditional Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I just received an email from his monastery with the letter he just wrote to his students regarding his choice of his extended retreat.  Mingyur Rinpoche decided to set off on a personal retreat, with just the clothes on his back, a small pack and wander through the Himalaya’s for three years. Rather than going into a more traditional meditation retreat cave in the Himalayas, he took off wandering and meditating, without any destination.   Wow! I thought, how remarkable that is for someone of his stature and with thousands of followers worldwide to just take off like that in the middle of the night. Sogyal Rinpoche, one of my favorite teachers and author of the “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” and “Glimpse after Glimpse” commented in this Sogyal Rinpoche on Mingyur Rinpoche Retreat on Mingyur Rinpoche’s choice to go on a wandering solitary retreat like in the old days, yet in todays modern world, letting go of email, facebook, twitter and all other forms of communication as well as all other modern conveniences.

I cherish my own personal retreat time, whether it be one deep breath, a silent moment between seeing patients, my morning meditation, a one day of weekly retreat or six months of retreat.  Each retreat time allows me different levels of depth into inner peace and awareness.

How do you retreat? What have been your experiences?

Celebration of Life: Ascend and Include (Part 4)

This is the fourth in a series of four posts by our amazingly awesome contributing blogger Dr. Penny Lloyd!

Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Celebration of Life – Ascend & Include

I am not here to tell anyone what to believe around death. I am simply sharing my experience. That is what I trust most nowadays. This seems to be the general trend for humanity at this stage in our evolution. It used to be that we would accept without question, information handed from authority figures (parents, doctors, government, police, boss, experts in any field). Now it is rare to take someone else’s advice, or even research, as absolute. When we question for ourselves, we discover there are many layers to everything. That makes life fascinating. It is all about finding our own way to truths and what is real – by sifting life through our own filter. That comes through being present to our own experience. That opening is what I wish to share.

Life is different for everyone because everyone’s perspective is different – built by our unique biological makeup and life experience. Each point of creation is unique. So my way is not the one way, the right way, the only way, the highway…it is just my experience at one point in my own evolution … guaranteed to change. So will yours.

Close to a decade ago, when my 21 year old cat best “Buddy” died in my arms, it was the most pain I had ever felt. The only thing that helped was going outside. When the pain was at its worst, I remember hearing a whispered “promise of connection”. It came while I was in the pasture, and was surprised to see a cat. The cat turned and looked at me – giving pause to my raging internal blizzard for a millisecond – long enough for the message to land. At that time, the word “connection” didn’t mean a thing. I quickly dismissed and forgot it. But it has resurfaced, becoming a focal word in my reality.

One of the things “Buddy” was just starting to do before he passed on was curl up at night in the crook of my arm, right next to my heart. I just loved it, couldn’t get enough of it, and wished he would sleep there always. A couple years after his passing, a little black fuzz ball kitten climbed up my leg one day and adopted me. He sleeps there regularly. And I love it more than ever.

Ten months ago, my sister’s dog “Sharky” passed on. Some time later, she adopted a full grown dog “Mystic” from the humane society. Everyone was shocked at how similar they looked. We have all made an effort to call the new dog “Mystic”, but regularly make the mistake of calling him Sharky. Even though they look the same, there are differences in character. Mystic definitely has traits Sharky never had. But in a surreal yet deeply comforting way, somehow all of Sharky surfaces within Mystic. He no longer seems gone. Somehow he is not all of Mystic, but part of him.

With the connection Bangwyn and I shared while she was in physical form, I could feel her presence with me whenever I thought of her. (This is something she helped teach me, which is another story.) We were never really apart. Even when we were a thousand miles away from each other, I could feel her energy right with me. All I had to do was focus and instantly there she was. It was a particular sensation that I knew to be her.

I assumed it would be the same when she passed over. The first time I checked in after her death, I fully expected her to be there as she had always been. Then I had a brief surge of panic that she had disappeared. But her presence was there. It had changed and felt different. The quality of it was lighter and freer – more wispy, less solid. And it was found in a slightly different place. It was no longer a next to me, side by side, walk together, merging sensation. When I scanned for her presence the way I had always done, I found it deeper and more central, integrated – it had become part of my heart space – at the very core of it. That’s where I found her after she passed on.

Celebration of Life? Surviving the Day (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of four posts by our amazing, compassionate blog contributor Dr. Penny Lloyd.  Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Celebration of Life?  Surviving the day

Forget the “transforming pain to beauty” part!%*! How can you suffer such incredible pain and simply survive? When your heart is ripped out, and the pain is coming thro in waves so strong it takes your breath away – what do you do? Shouldn’t there be a friggin’ manual on that one?!?? Not sure I have the manual, but this helps me:

Don’t try to do it alone. Say a prayer. Ask for help. Allow the support of friends & family. It is natural to want to hide to lick your wounds, but there is nothing like sharing a meaningful experience openly. It releases tension. It opens your heart. An open heart is the only way to truly feel better – to heal – to enjoy.

When the pain comes, breathe. Try going outside. For me, nature offers relief.
Let yourself feel what you feel. If you let yourself feel, it comes in waves and passes through. It may come again, but it doesn’t get stuck.
Observe your thoughts. Watch how adding to certain streams of thought adds to your pain. Notice that you can choose to stop – and just be – a still oasis. Notice how easy it is to whip up guilt, regret, doubt…tons of extras to dump on top to add to your agony. Notice you can stop – even an avalanche – but it is easiest early on, just as a thought trickles in. Some thoughts will come that actually make you feel a little better. Even at a time like this, you can choose.

Be gentle, true and nice to you. Take the easiest, gentlest path. Chances are you won’t have the energy to control much. Conserve energy. No right way to act. Just show up, moment to moment. Let it unfold. Give yourself room to feel how you feel…whatever surfaces. You may be surprised. And you may want to take this “roomy compassion mother self hug” way of being with you into the future.
Deal with only one moment at a time. Forget past, future, and what ifs. Focus only on the step in front of you. Barebones stripped away, blank slate – just be there to notice. Show up and ride on through, step by step – the way animals live. No preplanning. Take action when necessary. Watch moment to moment. Be open and observe. You can experience more in one hour of presence, than a lifetime of busy. Animals love people who are present.

Let yourself let go. Surrender the last threads of control. Let go of tension by relaxing your grip. A situation like this primes us for surrender. To have no energy to fight, can be the greatest gift. It may be the first time you can receive.
Watch the impulse to “run or hide” to avoid pain. Both are resistance. The resistance is what hurts the most. If you turn and face the pain, let the pain be there, you will come to know the fullness of grief as love. Love is all there is.
Alcohol. When big stuff is going on, I avoid numbing out with alcohol. But I also know alcohol can work as a heart opener. This time, at the close of the day, I experimented consciously. I took a sip and tuned into how I felt. I was surprised when the heavy physical sensation of pain gradually lifted from my heart – and I had a lovely real heart to heart conversation with my sister, before going to sleep.

Animal Companions offer Psychological Benefits: Of Course!

It is wonderful to see the studies  mounting up  that continue to further document the health benefits of our animal friends.  This recent study documenting that pets offer psychological benefits seems like a no brainer to me! Duh! Of course they do! The benefit of these studies are that each one continues to accumulate further documentation that the happiest, healthiest future includes humans sharing their lives with animals. The great Harvard entomologist, E.O. Wilson proposed that their is an innate need for humans to share their lives with other living beings, which he called “biophilia”.
This is why we share our lives with them. This is why there are more multi-species households in the U.S. than not. This is what I wrote about in my “Kindred Spirits”. They offer us psychological benefits in prisons, schools for the emotionally challenged, senior citizen homes, orphanages, and wherever people are yearning for unconditional love at very deep levels.
I remember a statement by a colleague of mine, Dr. Larry Dossey that I paraphrase frequently “If there was a pill that had all the documentation on the health benefits of animals for people, it would be the best documented and most desired medication on the market”.
Perhaps we can now develop non-harmful, ethical, humane studies documenting the health benefits of living in a multi-species world that is based on loving kindness and compassion for all beings. Now that would be a great study that could lead to profound, happy outcomes! Perhaps, that is what we can create through the kindred spirits project. If you have ideas on how to create such a study and would like to co-create a study like this, let me know and let’s create it. Perhaps the study would be actually creating such worlds, little microcosms of loving compassionate multi-species communities. Perhaps some exist already. Do you know of one?
Let’s have fun creating one!

Study Shows Pet Ownership Has Psychological Benefits: Huffington Post

Turtle Connection in Central Park

While visiting my 95 year old uncle and my cousin near central park in New York on one of the first warm, sunny days of spring two weeks ago, the power and beauty of our inter-species connections shined its bright light on me in a most unexpected way. After lunch with my wise, sage-like uncle, aunt and cousin, my cousin and I went for a walk in Central Park surrounded by hundreds of ecstatic New Yorkers rejoicing in welcoming fragrances and colors of flowers and trees celebrating the birth of spring. We were two cousins reconnecting, amidst the crowds meandering at a seemingly controlled pace along the paved walkways around the ponds while others paddled in rowboats, everyone moving in one flowing mass, packed solid like schools of fish following some unknown electromagnetic connection between us all. People of all races, colors, creeds, dressed up in all arrays of flamboyant spring colors, chatting away with each other, lost in their individual conversations, mindstreams and worlds, yet all connected by the speed of the flow of beings along the paths. It was really the first time I felt that my cousin and I were able to connect in a much deeper, heartfelt way, away from the sometimes challenging conversations of other family members regarding the drama’s that fill most families lives. In the midst of our chats and the crowds, there lay a small, one inch long, red-eared green turtle, head and feet tucked into its home shell, barely avoiding the feet of hundreds of pedestrians. It was truly an absolute miracle that someone, unaware of his presence beneath the hundreds of feet passing over him, would not have squashed him into flat oblivion. Continue Reading Turtle Connection in Central Park