I wasn’t looking for a dog. I was quite happy and content with seven unique cats. (Yes, you could say I live in a cathouse). I certainly didn’t anticipate a little dog to come into my life, teaching me to look at my Reiki practice and The Precepts in ever new ways. But let me back up a bit.
I had been volunteering Reiki at a wildlife refuge, for almost two years when Beth, the founder, came up to me and said, “I was at the shelter and one of the people said he was trying to use more natural and holistic ways of calming the dogs down and I told him about you and Reiki. Give him a call”. So I did.
Mike had two particular dogs in mind to work with; Serafina, a very sweet, incredibly shy lab mix, and Frosty, a Jack Russell Terrier/Chihuahua mix, who would nip at people and would circle her kennel endlessly.
After working with Serafina for two visits, she was less shy and was adopted by a nice family. Frosty, who had been in shelter/foster environments for almost two years, was still there. I was warned when I went to work with her” “Don’t pet her, even if she jumps in your lap, she’ll bite”. Volunteers were afraid of her. At one point, one person mentioned that someone recommended having all of her teeth pulled so she would be more adoptable. As it was, she could not be in a home with children or other dogs. For a couple of sessions I worked with her right outside of her kennel. Then we moved into a room, away from the barking and distractions of all the other dogs. She would circle the room and then settle in my lap, sigh and fall asleep. She would put her head under my hand and stay very still.
As the weeks went by, I offered Reiki to all the animals and watched as many were adopted. I wasn’t tempted to adopt any of them because, 1) the shelter was very careful about who adopted, so I knew they would be okay and 2) it is a No-Kill shelter, so there not a deadline, so to speak. Still, it is hard on animals to be a shelter, no matter how kind the people are.
Frosty started to be more affectionate to me and I started to have a nagging thought to maybe adopt her. (I’d have to make sure my landlord wouldn’t mind, that she and the cats would get along, etc.). Then Frosty went into a foster home. I asked how it was going and it sounded like he was going to adopt her. He had one cat and a bird and I thought it would be great for Frosty. And I didn’t have to disrupt my calm little life.
Then, after a month in the foster home, I came to the shelter and Frosty was back in the kennel. For personal reasons, her foster dad was unable to keep her. She looked heartbroken. I was heartbroken for her.
I kept working with her and learned that she didn’t just bite or snap out of the blue, she gave very clear warnings, if you were paying attention. I began to think about adoption becoming a reality.
I checked with my landlord (he said okay) and we had several home visits to see how Frosty would be with the cats and vice versa. So far, so good.
I adopted Frosty at the end of November.
So this 5-7 year old dog, who had been a stray, then in a kill shelter, rescued to a no-kill shelter and had been in two foster homes, with back and knee problems, was now my dog. I had not had a dog before.
Thank God for The Precepts! For Today Only is the only way to live when everyone is learning to adjust to changes in household! I learned that I have to get up a bit earlier so that Frosty can have her morning walk and take care of bathroom issues. (I recently saw a cartoon with a dog talking about its person saying: “She seems nice enough, but when we go on a walk, she steals my poop!”) The cats learned they had a new housemate, and tried to graciously welcome her. Sometimes Frosty was equally gracious, sometimes, not so much. A couple of times she chased a cat into another room and then I’d hear a hiss, followed by a yelp and Frosty running back with a scratch across her nose. Another time, Frosty was trotting thru the house, leash trailing behind her, when she came to an abrupt stop. I investigated and there were seven cats all sitting on her leash. Frosty doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t plot to get those evil kitties. In fact, she will sometimes give them a big, sloppy kiss. And I will often find them all curled up on the bed together.
Frosty, with all of her past pain, lives each day without worrying or fear. There is only today. What happened a month ago is over. How she ended up in the streets doesn’t matter. And there is not the slightest sign that she is concerned about the next minute, let alone the next day. She savors each moment, with a look of “Isn’t this the most amazing day ever– don’t you see it”?! She is a very happy dog; she will come in after a walk and roll around on the floor in sheer joy!
One day, coming home from a walk in the neighborhood, I heard a low growl and looked up to see a very big dog loose, with no owner to be seen. The dog looked at Frosty and charged. I got Frosty up onto my trash can, opened my door and got her inside while holding off the big dog. (The dog was not the least bit interested in me, I was in no danger, Frosty was). The dog took off and I went inside to a concerned Frosty. I sat down and started crying from the stress, and Frosty came over and started licking my face and sat in my lap. She showed me such compassion and simply was present with me and let me be, as she simply was herself, fully present to me and fully present with me.
Frosty shows me The Precepts in being fully present in the moment. I realized I was more rigid than I had thought, attached to a particular way of doing things (or to sleeping an extra hour). She teaches me to let go, to breathe, to dive into the now. I look at the snow falling in a different way; I always thought it was beautiful, but to see Frosty dive into the snow and tunnel her way out makes me laugh out loud. There is newness in everything when you see with fresh eyes. The Precepts tell us that, that’s why “For Today Only” is so important, it is the only time, the only moment, so it is ever new. Frosty lives this, without pretense, in an utterly free way; no worries about if it is correct or if she is correct. She simply is; no worries, no apologies, no angst. And I am learning and feeling lighter and freer as I continue to learn from Frosty, Reiki Dog and Teacher.
Kris Azzarello – Shelter Animal Reiki Association Teacher