Adopting a shelter pet is an exciting and fulfilling experience. Not only will you be helping an animal in need of a loving home, you’ll be gaining a new family member. However, it’s important to pet-proof your home, get their space set up with the essentials, and do a little research before bringing home a rescue pet.
Animal Reiki Dogs
It was our final Reiki meditation of the day and a storm was brewing. Gretchen and I settled in, offering Reiki to both her dogs. Bindi wandered around a bit, stopped, and offered Gretchen her front paw. It was beautiful to see Bindi stand there with her paw in Gretchen’s hand…so beautiful I could not interrupt the moment to snap a picture though I wanted to. The love between them radiated. Bindi sat back and put both paws in Gretchen’s hands. Gretchen sat teary eyed, holding her best friend’s paws.
Bruno is loving walks and belly rubs these days. And he took his freedom ride to his foster home this past weekend! For months, Bruno cowered in the back of his kennel at the shelter, growling at staff. He had been there almost six months, surrendered for killing a chicken and a goat. Terrified, he would not let anyone touch him and it was difficult to clean his run. Leah, a shelter worker, knew they couldn’t keep him much longer if he couldn’t be handled, cleaned up and vetted. In a last-ditch effort, she reached out to me to share Reiki with him. I also asked Animal Reiki Source’s Animal Reiki Healing Circle to share Reiki with Bruno.
This beautiful deaf boxer girl had come over to the UK from Romania at approximately 6 months old, her history not clear, and was first fostered by a couple with a handful of other dogs. It quickly became very obvious and worrying that she was a very anxious girl around dinner times, guarding her food and showing aggression towards the other dogs and the humans in her foster home. It became so severe that the couple had to take the heart breaking decision of handing her back to the rehoming organisation and, due to her aggressive behaviour, sadly she had to be looked after at a rescue boarding kennel while the organisation began the responsible and stressful task of finding the next right home for her. Prospects were unclear… who would take on a deaf dog who literally might bite the hand that feeds her?
A few months ago, I felt a strong calling to begin volunteering Reiki with shelter animals. I had shared Reiki with rescued animals before but was not officially “in” with a local rescue as a regular volunteer. I wanted to put myself out there, but during these COVID times it has been challenging to meet face to face.
Dusty was found after wandering the Arizona desert as a pup without identification or microchip. After a week of no one claiming him at the Humane Society, he was adopted by SARA member Gerianne. He lived a very happy 15 1/2 years with his special Reiki mom and family. He was a devoted family dog, meditation partner and lover of Reiki. Thank you so much Gerianne for honoring SARA with a donation in his memory. Fly free and in peace, Dusty!
We rescued “Belle” from the wonderful shelter Homeward Bound in Middlebury, Vermont where I volunteer, about two and a half years ago. She had been surrendered in South Carolina and moved to our shelter in Vermont. She had only been in Vermont for about two days before I discovered her one Saturday while sharing Kathleen Prasad’s Let Animals Lead® method of Animal Reiki. By the following Friday, she had claimed our bed and hearts. The people at our shelter said, as she wiggled and wriggled on the way to our car, “bet she is going to get lots of Reiki!”; and she has. Her name was immediately changed to Addie and she was often referred to as Mrs. Wiggles in those early days.
Ever since I can remember, my life was all about animals and nature. As a child, these were the things that helped me survive through difficult times and made me believe that God, or some form of Supreme Being, really exists…
Sharing Reiki with an animal doesn’t have to mean sitting in mediation with them. Experience the wonder of moving meditation with your animals. Here I am in the Lolo Forest in Montana with peaceful horses and dogs. A true Zen moment!
The Let Animals Lead® Method of Animal Reiki created by Kathleen Prasad is ideal for working with recent rescues-I work mostly with recently rescued canines.
Gabi, a SARA Practitioner, introduces her teaching memoir: How Animal Reiki Found Me and Other Stories, by Gabriele Annegret.
In her book Gabi shares her journey of awakening through encounters of animals as spirits, message carriers, and healers … Animal Reiki found her!
As pet sitters, we often encounter animals who are afraid, timid, confused or stressed because they are alone with a stranger in their home. We face emergencies with sick or injured animals when their people are away. We sometimes care for animals who are transitioning while their family is gone. These things are stressful for the animal and for us as pet sitters. There is an amazing balm for these situations: Animal Reiki – specifically the Let Animals Lead® method developed by Kathleen Prasad. This practice has made my job as a pet sitter easier and has decreased stress and anxiety in my animal clients.
A friend who is starting her Animal Reiki business asked how I explain Reiki in a way to pique someone’s interest and share what we do, while staying away from the “woo-woo”. After I shared my thoughts, she suggested I write an article to help others starting out.
Riley was a ten- pound King Charles Cavalier with big soft eyes. Chasing summer toads around the driveway in summer and falling leaves in autumn, his heart soared.
Like most rescues, Zahra’s story is not fully known. A gentle, sweet mutt with upright pointy ears and a noble square muzzle, she appears to be part Great Dane, part Australian Cattle Dog. Zahra was adopted from a shelter in New Mexico. Her new family, Kirby, and her partner Alex (musician and teacher) were thrilled when their application to adopt Zahra was approved. This approval came just as they were heading to South Carolina for a family vacation. The shelter was unable to hold Zahra until their return and so they packed dog food, water bowl, toys, etc. and took Zahra along to the beach. Zahra proved to be a good traveler. No nausea or drooling, she enjoyed riding in the car and was well-behaved on leash. So far, so good!
Pearl was her name, and she certainly shared her wisdom with us that day. She was a little Chihuahua that was volunteered to work with me and my students during the “Self-Healing for Animal Caregivers” class that I taught at the local shelter where I volunteered.
It was one of those easy Sundays, when you wake up slowly, with no need to finish any remaining tasks and just being grateful for everything, spending simply your time with your family, doing this and that and relaxing.
One of the things I feel called to do with my Reiki practice is to help animals and their families with loss and saying good-bye. To serve in this way I have cultivated relationships with local veterinarians who offer at-home euthanasia services. On our peninsula there are four such Vets, all acting upon callings of their own. It is both an opportunity and a blessing to offer Reiki and massage (I am an animal massage therapist as well) to dying animals, their other human and animal family members and to the very environment they are leaving. Being invited to help create a peaceful space for this part of life is a great application for humility and gratitude and can be very meaningful for all. Doing this for Oliver simply was not simple.
The situation was that my 78 year old sister-in-law, beginning to be frail and reclusive, was not able to adequately care for her 15 year old Westie and ultimately had to surrender him on Condo association and Court order. Very complicated situation but I was certain that the dog could not be rehomed and was suffering in subtle but clear ways. I was asked to facilitate a home euthanasia and support Oliver and the Vet with Reiki and massage. Oliver was not my favorite dog! Over the years he had vomited, pee’d and poop’d in my home, accosted my dogs and been genuinely unfriendly. He was, however, a noble and trusted companion to my SIL through many difficult times of her life and for this I loved him.
The hardest part in agreeing to do this was disconnecting from the complicated, emotional and personal baggage in order to be a supportive vessel for whatever Oliver needed to pass peacefully. I was also working with a Vet I had wanted to meet but had not yet met and who I would like to work with in the future. In a practical way, Oliver offered me the portal to help others through the relationship with these special Vets. My main learning was how to create a healing Reiki space when the path is personally, logistically and emotionally complicated. Gratefully, my experiences with SARA and in practice helped me to understand where I had to be and how I had to be in order to offer Reiki in these circumstances.
I made the arrangements with the Vet who was extremely open and welcoming to my wanting to create a Reiki space for Oliver’s passing. The arrangements were difficult both in terms of the personal turmoil of the owner, my SIL, and of the logistics and constraints of my life. I began the Reiki space meditation the day before, offering distance Reiki and getting to a point of presence myself. The morning of, I was at the shelter for two hours just before, and it was such a blessing to have that time and environment to prepare myself. Oliver was brought to my house, arriving about 20 minutes before the Vet. My son took my animals to another part of the house and my husband was there to support his sister. Oliver was able to explore the yard, something he was never allowed to do, and seemed greatly moved by the smells and sounds of nature. He had sadly not been outside for some time and though stressed, was so happy to be “free” and connected in that way. After the 20 minutes where we let him wander he came to his favorite bed and stopped for treats. The Vet arrived and supported my SIL and did the necessary paperwork while I sat with Oliver who was already making the transition. In the many times I have seen animals at this point in their lives, in the shelter and elsewhere, there is often a sort of life surge that looks like health and optimism in the minutes before injection and peace. It is alarming to some because it mimics good health energy when really I believe it is preparatory phase, a knowing perhaps of the release and peace of what comes next.
In any case, this was how Oliver went. With emotional lightness and comfort in spite of physical discomfort, he settled down on his bed for the sedative before the lethal injection. The Vet was so full of connection and grace, so comforting and caring, so generous with the time and process. Her grace allowed me the time to create a space for all of us to support Oliver’s passing. I experienced an unexpected calm and peace myself and was conscious of the incongruity with the outward condition of anxiety and sadness and even the symbolism of this woman losing her companion because of decreasing ability herself. It was simply, or not so simply, a sacred experience. Thank you Oliver.
I recently had the privilege of reveling in the presence of animals and healing at Brighthaven Sanctuary, studying Animal Reiki with Kathleen Prasad of Animal Reiki Source! What got me there was a series of “coincidences” and life experiences that all merged to remind me that this lifetime animal enthusiasm has much more to teach me yet.
Let me back up… two of my top-ten influential life teachers are dogs. Chula retired from the role of human teacher in 2011, after being the best best friend to me for over 13 years. Bianca took Chula’s job over a few months after she passed and has been fully showing up everyday for work for over six years now. I can’t quantify what I have received from both of them in terms of wisdom, healing, love, and strength but I’ll qualify by saying they have taught me to love, be loved, lose love, nurture and nourish, strengthen, and show up fully as the perfectly imperfect human that I am. Chula was my guide when I left my childhood New York home to “find myself” in California. Bianca took over when it was time for me to learn to take as good of care of myself as I did them.
I’m the girl who interrupts in-depth conversations with a squeal at the sight of a wire-haired terrier with her tongue hanging out or a murmuration of birds passing overhead. I’m the one who pulls animal cards to ask them for wisdom and healing. My friends know to call me to check my Animal Speak book when they find themselves curious about a recurring critter visitor. “What’s it mean, Cara?” I’m also the one who has been known to trap feral cats to get them fixed and released. I meditate on the bird songs around me and carry on meaningful conversations with the hummingbirds who frequent my hibiscus tree. What’s my point? I like animals and I like listening to and learning their language. I always have and it started with Daisy, the sheepdog, who took care of me from the moment I was brought home from the hospital after being born.
Loving and being loved by animals is one beautiful benefit of nurturing relationships with them but now I see there’s a whole next-level benefit involving the ways they teach and heal us. Whether it’s my sweet Bianca getting attacked and needing me to provide round-the-clock care to save her life or whether it’s a hawk “randomly” showing up in some unexpected place to remind me of the mystery of the universe, they guide me back to myself when I get in my own way.
I learned of the work of Kathleen Prasad in early 2016 and became very intrigued. Kathleen is the world leader in the field of Animal Reiki. With so much gratitude, I received the Buster Scholarship to participate in a weekend workshop to study beginner Animal Reiki with her. This opportunity came from a generous student of Kathleen’s, Gerianne Hummel, who was touched deeply by her first Animal Reiki teacher, Buster, her cat who lived over 23 years. In his honor, she offered this scholarship and I was the lucky recipient!
I felt like I came home that weekend. From the moment I walked into Brighthaven Sanctuary — where animals are treated homeopathically, with Reiki, and shown love and care after often experiencing a lifetime of neglect, suffering, and/or illness — I knew I was walking into something special. Kathleen’s Reiki offerings and teachings have been the cornerstone of their success. I sat with seven other animal lovers like myself, all happy to come home and all grateful to experience the healing that Reiki and animals offer us. I wasn’t weird for talking to animals here; I belonged.
As a massage therapist, I’ve understood energy and have experienced feeling the movement of energy between myself and a client. As a mindfulness practitioner, I’ve understood the benefits of presence. As an animal lover, I’ve understood the benefits of loving and being loved unconditionally. BUT, Animal Reiki brings all of these tools together to show me a framework for promoting interspecies healing in my life and in my work and to incorporate the healing of presence, energy, and love to transcend our suffering.
We live in a world where it’s “normal” to torture, kill, eat and wear animals. We have an opportunity right now, though, to stop eating and wearing them and start listening to and learning from them. They are showing us the impact of our misunderstanding of their role in the survival of the planet. Animal Reiki and the work so many are doing to promote interspecies connection and conversation has the potential to change the world we live in. I know, because I’ve seen it in my own life, that if we shift from dominating animals to befriending them, we will invite the possibility for a peace we haven’t yet known.
There are countless stories of the ways Kathleen’s work has had miraculous outcomes for thousands of animals and people all around the world. Animal miracles are no stranger to me but I’m looking forward to the multitude of miracles to come as I incorporate Animal Reiki practices into my daily life and continue to look to the critters to show me how to live a more aligned, sustainable, and meaningful life.
To learn more about Kathleen’s transformative work, click here.
I love meditating with animals! I say this with great joy and enthusiasm because in the past, I had a teacher who told her students that animals will draw energy away from you and disrupt your mediation if they are in the same room. Well, this teacher also says that we should take what resonates and leave the rest behind. I choose to leave far behind her limiting belief about meditating with animals!
I have practiced meditation my entire life. As a child, I didn’t know that I was meditating. I was simply going to a quiet place to withdraw deep inside myself to avoid a crowded and chaotic household. We weren’t permitted pets, except for fish and the occasional hamster so my favorite place to retreat in mind and body was the small greenhouse that my father had built to grow orchids. In this beautiful space, the only animals were insects. Oh and Charlie, a clam my mother had brought back from Lake Erie and kept in a bucket. It was never clear what Charlie ate, but he grew bigger over time. I felt bad for Charlie, stuck in that small home that wasn’t home. But I was a kid and I didn’t pay much attention to Charlie or the insects. They weren’t warm and fuzzy and I couldn’t hold one close at night to help me sleep.
Fast forward a few decades. I now live on a small piece of property with four horses, six dogs, and ten cats. All of the dogs and cats were strays or rescues who chose to share their lives with my husband and me. We are fortunate to back up to a national park and over 100 acres of conserved woods, with a running stream and a pond that serves as a watering hole for wildlife and a swimming pool for the horses and Kensi, a border collie.
I love to sit by the pond for meditation, and am usually accompanied by Kensi. She will take a dip, shower me with pond water, and settle down in the grass. Kensi’s presence is comforting and relaxing and it is easier to fall deeper into meditation feeling her energy merging with mine. On a recent afternoon, practicing a homework assignment for Leah’s Animal Reiki for Reiki Practitioner’s class, I began a meditation by the pond, starting with the Joshin Kokyu and adding the Three Diamonds meditation. The Three Diamonds meditation brings so much peace. It becomes a beautiful moving meditation in which I easily lose myself.
Prior to beginning the meditation session, I spent time observing the surroundings. A large turtle lounged sunbathing on a log that extends out into, but above, the water. I set an intention to invite Turtle to join me. I began with Gassho, giving thanks for the day, the spring that feeds the pond, the dragonflies and other wildlife that share this space with me. I then practiced Joshin Kokyu Ho for some time, noticing that our barn cat, Lady, and Kensi had chosen to join me, lying a few yards away in the grass within the space created by my practice. Floating on Lady’s rythmic purr it was easy to fall deeper into meditation and gently transitioned to Three Diamonds. I felt the world dropping away, and yet was more acutely aware of the subtle sounds of dragonfly wings, a breeze blowing through the trees, the splash of a fish jumping. I found my breath syncing to the movements of my hands and felt myself moving even deeper inward.
I became aware of a gentle, patient and wise presence. Turtle had joined me with a message. He said, I am one with the earth. I am one with the water. I am one with the air. I am in these elements and these elements are in me. I am in balance.
I felt another presence, light and fluttering. Dragonfly said, I am one with the sky, I am one with the air, I am one with the water reeds. I am in balance.
Stillness overcame my mind and body and I sat, absorbing the messages and feeling so grateful for Turtle and Dragonfly. Slowly I returned to present, feeling the sentience of the beings around me. I don’t know how long I sat, deep inside myself but at the same time open and part of the world around me. Returning gently to awareness, filled with peace, I gave thanks to Turtle, Dragonfly, Kensi and Lady.
I was in balance.
When I arrived at the shelter I immediately went to the kennel side and one of the caretakers asked me to help Joyce “who is very nervous.” She was in the visiting room which is away from the other dogs. As I entered, Joyce was very excited and alert. Her senses were heightened from all of the noise in and around the kennel, so it felt felt right to go into a chant (in Japanese) meditation of the 5 Reiki Precept.
Today Only ~
Do not anger
Do not worry
Show compassion to yourself and others
Joyce acknowledged that she wanted to receive the Reiki healing. She had moments of relaxation as well as moments of movement around the room. These are common signs that the animal is receiving the healing energy which will go where it needs to go. My responsibility was to be present holding that healing space for her with no expectations, and trust the Reiki energy! I had to remind myself of that frequently due to the heavy traffic of people passing the room. Joyce could look out the window to see the people and other animals walking by. Once I relaxed and just held the Reiki space for whatever Joyce needed (and stopped worrying about trying to hold the camera! ), Joyce started to relax.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be there for the animals and to always be reminded by them what it means to be present and just be Reiki. This particular session, I felt my higher self also reminding me, which is one of the signals that led me to chant for her (and for myself!). What a wonderful time with her and for her! Oh, also this has led me to connect with a friend of mine that hopefully can join me next time and do the filming! Stay tuned 🙂
Sometimes the universe surprises. Out of the blue. No warning.
I was attending a yoga class the night before Thanksgiving when my teacher offered a deck of cards to me and told me to “pick one.” The card I chose evoked a little gasp of surprise.
“I see you.”
I was immediately transported back to the puppy house at Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA) in India.
My first few days in India were spent at TOLFA with my colleague, Alison McKinnon. We were offering Reiki to the animals there. The animals are in various states of wellness, with the puppy house being the place where many animals were quite ill. Several were actively dying. So many, in fact, that I started referring to myself as a death doula.
Watching the obvious decline of some of the animals was daunting, and I began to wonder how much my presence there was really helping. How many times could I sit with a dying animal before I reached the point of no return?
This was the challenge, I knew–to hold the space with love and compassion, without judgment or expectation, and to remain grounded so as not to lose myself in my emotions. Releasing any hope for a specific outcome was critical. I confess, I didn’t get there on the first try.
I have been working with animals in shelters in the U.S. for many years. I was not inexperienced. I had also had several animal clients who were preparing to pass, as well as my own kitty companions. And I’m a hospice volunteer! So, sitting with a being who is transitioning is not a new experience for me. What was new was the manner in which I was witnessing these passings. These were not the rather quick and peaceful transitions of euthanasia. Euthanasia cannot be done at TOLFA. These animals might hold on for several days taking limited sustenance and being kept as comfortable as possible. Therefore, there was more time to connect with these beautiful souls on a deeper level. To see them as glowing light beings. To see them as whole and to bear witness to their last days on the earthly plane. To connect completely through the heart.
“I see you.”
This came to my mind as I worked with one of the sickest little pups. This sweetie would make little yipping sounds when we were near in order to get attention. I would open the door of his kennel and gently pet him as he lay there. “I see you,” I would tell him. “I see you.”
Isn’t this what we all want really–a chance to be seen on the deepest level–connected heart to heart? To be present on this level is so incredibly beautiful, so healing.
When I returned from India, I resumed my visits to Rutland County Humane Society. Shortly thereafter, I was asked by staff to offer Reiki to a cat who was brought in and was actively dying.
My puppy friends had prepared me for this moment. I stood by her kennel offering Reiki as she moved through the business of dying. Tears in my eyes, I felt our connection on a soul level. “I see you,” I whispered.
Make no mistake, my heart broke a little more every time I witnessed the death of a shelter animal. It gave me some comfort knowing they passed in the loving and compassionate embrace of Reiki. These words from the book “Animal Wisdom” by Linda Bender, DVM, also give me peace:
“What I saw, reflected back to me in the eyes of the dying squirrel was the power of my own presence in that moment. It was immensely more powerful than I had ever imagined. The reason for my presence was simply that–to be there at the moment of another’s death, to witness it and to care.”
Cleo, the Rottweiler female was rescued 6 months ago from a situation full of abuse and aggression. Since the day she was rescued, she has been running around, barking furiously and losing weight.
When I met her, I sat in front of her kennel, and told her she was beautiful. I expanded. I was the Earth, and I was the grass, the air and I was all love. At the beginning she was running like crazy all around and barking. I just mediated, without judgment. All is love, and she was beautiful.
I imagined creating love all around her, instead of offering it directly to her. There was no contact at the beginning. After some time, I started imagining I could “touch” her with this love, with the light. After 10 minutes of this, she came to the fence, barked just one and went away.
Over time she was getting calmer. We stayed together for about 40 minutes. She didn’t lay down, as she was really too excited to rest, but she came to the fence many times, always watching me and then walking away. A staff person watched everything from nearby and she said Cleo had never behaved this way before. I learned so much from Cleo that day: no judgments, and gratitude for sharing Reiki with love, love, love.
At the end of the treatment that first day, she was sitting calmly and watching me. I was looking forward, avoiding her eyes, in order not to make her agitated again. When she finally walked away, I thanked her and left.
I am also taking the Leah’s course “Animal Reiki for Reiki Practitioners” these days and I shared this experience with her. Leah recommended that I to continue offer Reiki to Cleo, so I went to visit her for a second time.
The second meeting was filled with love, I guess we were both sending it to each other. There were few moments Cleo sat in parallel to me and we were looking in the same direction, just sharing the Reiki space. In that moment it was as if we were just One, we were both above all thoughts and feelings, just present with each other.
When I went to visit her for the third time, her transformation was incredible, and I experienced such joy and gratitude. Gratitude for everything, for Leah’s support, for Cleo’s being so open, for Universal Reiki.
Cleo has taught me that when we are honest and humble with what we do, and when we manage to put our ego aside entrusting Reiki – amazing healing can happen.
Soon Cleo will take her first walk outside. Thank you Reiki! Just simply – thank you!!!
UPDATE from Carol: Asia has been adopted to his forever family! The legacy of Reiki healing is like the vibration of a butterfly’s wings – infinite.
We don’t often share the private letters that SARA President Kathleen Prasad receives on a daily basis from so many animal lovers around the world who have been helped by her teachings. This one, however, touched our hearts so much with the good healing news that it brought, that we wanted to share it with our readers, in hopes that it will support, inspire and ground you in your important work for the animals who need you most! No matter what situation an animal has come from, Reiki can bridge the gap, no matter how wide, creating a bridge of healing. Never give up! With love, the SARA Team