I received the most wonderful story from a Reiki colleague Martha Wewer, who volunteers regularly at Carolina Tiger Rescue in North Carolina. I am so pleased to present this story to all of you. It is an amazing lesson in animal awareness of the energy, and the connections and trust that can be created, even with wild animals. A big key to Martha’s success here, is her respectful approach, which all animals appreciate. Working with these incredible animals, Martha is also learning the important lesson in letting go of our expectations and learning to trust in the energy. Enjoy reading this heartwarming story!
With Animal Reiki Blessings,
Kathleen Prasad, SARA President
You Do Reiki on WHAT?!?
By Martha K. Wewer
I started volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, NC because my husband, Tim, took a position as an intern animal keeper at the facility. This wonderful non-profit sanctuary is dedicated to saving big and small cats while educating the public of the natural history and plight of these amazing animals. During his orientation the animal curator, Kathryn, had mentioned to my husband that there was a volunteer who did Reiki on the some of the cats. Tim was thrilled and told Kathryn, “my wife does Reiki and loves animals! Maybe she could help!” Of course I was beyond thrilled, I mean, who wouldn’t be? I would be spending time with tigers! Then nervousness, anxiousness and doubt set in. How would I approach this situation? (Carolina Tiger Rescue has a strict “hands-off” policy with the animals; even the ones who have been reared at the facility are not to be touched out of respect for the animal and the safety of the volunteer). What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I didn’t help the animals enough? What if it had been too long? What if I was too emotionally drained to be of any use?
About a year and a half ago, a personal tragedy in mine and my husband’s lives caused me to be angry, sad, anxious, and depressed. I lost faith in myself and the universe around me. I had even walked away from Reiki. Every new opportunity in my life now was colored by my intense grief. But I was so excited to spend even a minute at the Rescue that I swallowed my fears and trusted in myself and the Reiki.
Tim decided that the two animals who would benefit most from twice weekly Reiki sessions were Nitro Tiger and Reagandale Ocelot. Nitro Tiger (and his enclosure mate, Apache Tiger) came to the Rescue in April of this year from a junkyard in Kansas. Upon arriving at the Rescue, it became obvious to the keepers that Nitro was blind. Despite his rough start in life and his disability, he would “chuffle” (a tigers way of saying “hello” – sort of a low, quick purring noise) at the keepers. Nitro seemed to know he was safe but he was still fearful and anxious at times, particularly when the pickup trucks used to deliver the food would drive past his enclosure. He would begin to pace frantically and turn in circles, clearly in distress. The goal was to provide healing to Nitro in hopes that he would become more and more comfortable in his surroundings.
My second “client” was Reagandale Ocelot, who was born at the Rescue. She suffered an injury as a kitten that damaged her left front leg, causing her to limp and stumble while running, climbing and jumping – all things that ocelots do a lot of. The goal with Reagandale was to provide some relief to her arthritic leg and increase her quality of life.
I had read through The Animal Reiki Handbook and practiced on myself, Tim and our dogs but let me tell you, when the day came to head out to the Rescue, I was still nervous. As we approached Reagandale’s enclosure, I took a deep breath, placed my towel on the ground in front of her, sat down, and asked her permission to begin. I recited the 5 Reiki principles, placed my hands palms up on my knees and began the session. In a matter of a minute or so, my hands got so warm! I was tempted to open my eyes and see how Reagandale was reacting but I resisted. One of the most wonderful things about Reagandale is she purrs…loudly…and intensely. I could practically track her by the noise she was making and boy, she was active! She would sit in front of me at the fence, run up her ramp to her perch, climb onto her den box…
After 15 minutes or so, I didn’t hear her purring anymore so I opened my eyes. She had retreated to the back of the enclosure so I took that as a sign from her that she was done with her Reiki treatment. I thanked her and got up. Tim had been observing us and he was amazed. He had never seen Reagandale so active! In subsequent sessions, keepers and staff would observe my Reiki treatments with Reagandale and they would say the same thing, she was definitely livelier and more energetic then they had ever seen her.
We headed over to Nitro’s enclosure. I sat cross-legged on my towel in front of the enclosure and asked his permission begin. I could hear Nitro pacing back and forth in front of me. Like with Reagandale, I could track him with my ears. I was concentrating on his fear and anxiety and hoping that by sending him waves of love, he would settle down. I heard Nitro continue to pace and then he stopped. Nothing. No noise. I opened one eye and there he was, all 400 pounds, right in front of me, pawing at the ground. There was no aggression, just curiousness…I knew he couldn’t see me but he knew I was there (for the record, tigers don’t rely heavily on their sense of smell and I had been instructed not to wear anything scented so he wasn’t just smelling me). We continued that way for the rest of the session – Nitro would move in and out of my direct line of “sight,” stopping to paw at me occasionally. Finally, after about 20 minutes, he moved to the back of the enclosure and lay down. I took that as a sign that he was done and thanked him and got up. Tim looked at me in wonder and said he had never seen Nitro paw at the fence like that. I left the Rescue that day, just ecstatic.
Over the course of the past 3 months, I have been volunteering with Nitro and Reagandale twice a week. I would love to say that Nitro is no longer fearful of the trucks or that he has stopped pacing but that is not the case. There are days when Nitro wants nothing to do with me and the sessions are short. Other days, he will lie down in front of me during the session and it will last 25-30 minutes. I can report that an unexpected benefit of my sessions with Nitro is that shy and protective Apache, Nitro’s enclosure mate, has become more and more present in our sessions. He had been rarely seen outside of his den box with the exception of meal time, but during my sessions with Nitro he will often lie down several feet from us and watch me. Only 2 weeks ago, I sat down to begin work with Nitro and Apache stood up in his den box, looked directly at me and walked straight to where I sat, put his face right in front of mine, and began to “chuffle.” It was the most unbelievable experience to have a 400 pound tiger walk directly at you, staring you in the eyes.
My experiences have been the same with Reagandale as with Nitro. Some days my hands are so warm from the energy she is taking and other days, while she’s friendly and purring, she doesn’t seem to need the energy as much. My ego wants to “cure” them, to “fix” them both and I get frustrated that there is not some more obvious break though that I can point to and say, “I did that!” However, I’m trusting in myself again and trusting in the Reiki. I know both animals are taking from our sessions what they need, when they need it and using in whatever way they need to. While I struggle with my desire to make everything “perfect” for these cats, I remain unbelievably grateful to have the opportunity to try.