How to Communicate a Change in Seasons

No matter in which hemisphere you live, there will be a change of seasons. Hours of sunlight shortening or lengthening, temperature changes, and the overall energy shift during these transitions from winter to summer or vice versa are noticeable to all. You may notice some changes – subtle or obvious – with your animals as they adjust. It’s natural, so how can we best help our pets in the seasonal change?cat in spring

Our job and biggest desire is to keep our pets safe. If it is too cold or too hot for our pets to spend significant amounts of time outside, we can help them understand. My dog loves to play in the snow but he can’t read the thermometer to know that the enticing blanket of snow on the ground coupled with single-digit temperatures equals frozen paws in less than five minutes. I hold a quick but detailed vision of going out the door, a quick sniff, a little romp or roll, do his business, and then I envision him hurrying back in the house feeling satisfied and comfortable. I often couple this vision with showing him a walk together later in the day – the sun is shining brighter and it’s higher in the sky.

As the spring season approaches I usually get a few consultations with behavioral and/or demeanor changes uncharacteristic of the pet. Yes, “spring fever” is a real thing! Longer, warmer days, new smells and bugs and fresh spring grass to eat are strong motivators to get outside. Indoor cats can be very hard to live with for a couple of weeks as spring takes hold and there is not a lot we can do about it other than recognize the signs and reassure yourself that “this too shall pass.” I’ve got nothing for you on this one! I am still looking for a reasonable, reliable communication that most cats can grasp. All I can share is keeping your own energy as calm as possible and encourage your wild feline to follow your example. I wish you all the best in this particular endeavor!

Longer days are glorious! Wildlife change their routines as the days become longer and those that hibernate through the winter will be hungry. Spring is also birthing/newborn season. We can help our pets by reminding them of their safety escape plan. Help them remember to be respectful of new life; new mommas will fight to the death to protect their young. Your practice communication can include holding the image of a charging deer, elk, bear, etc. Also hold the image of your pet staying by or returning immediately to your side and welcoming a leash or a scoop up into your arms. There are so many variations on communicating safety to our pets; you’ll need to come up with specifics according to your environment and training.

What had been frozen may be stronger in scent as it thaws and therefore becomes seemingly delectable. Previously frozen animal poop and thawing carcass are favorites of my guy. Even previously frozen bug remains are enticing to some outdoor kitties. Also enticing is the fresh, tender spring grass sprouting up. Many believe that dogs who dine on grass are doing so to settle an upset tummy. Yes, for sure this is true but some dogs just love the taste and smell of fresh grass and will take a nibble as the opportunity arises. Watch them for other signs of digestive woes and check with your Vet but if no other symptoms appear then let them enjoy. It’s like a fresh spring salad right from the garden for them! For the other I-must-eat-this-disgusting-thing items, I wouldn’t hold back on envisioning your pet eating it then throwing up, an upset stomach, and diarrhea. Immediately follow that vision with an image of them seeking out the offending smelly object and leaving it alone.

Enjoy the changing seasons, and help your pet enjoy it too!

How We Set Expectations

I often suggest in my consultations that clear, positive expectations can be used as reinforcement after our communication with the pets. The same is true for setting fresh expectations as new needs develop. Let’s focus on your role in setting expectations.

  1. What expectation do you want to set? Why? Is it realistic? There is no value in setting an expectation that falls short or is doomed to fail.
  2. Be clear with yourself first on what outcome is expected: a joyful use of the litter box every single time; loose-leash walking every single time; polite greetings of humans and/or other animals every single time. When you review what you have just crafted, do YOU understand the desired outcome of the expectation? If not, your pet won’t either!
  3. Relax, and know that expectations are usually met over time. There will be successes and challenges in meeting these expectations. Don’t give up after just one attempt. Be realistic and at the same time determined.

And now, the key element is a mantra to use:

Speak it; Envision it; BELIVE IT!

It really is that simple!set expectations

  • Develop the expectation you want to set and speak it with kind, positive words and intention (#1).
  • As you speak it, let your mind’s eye envision the outcome you expect (#2).
  • Most importantly, believe deep in your heart that this expectation is achievable. Trust that you and your pet are communicating and the expectation is coming through loud and clear. Experience the bond – the partnership – with your pet as you move forward with shared expectations which you work on together (#3).

Speak it.    Envision it.     BELIVE IT!

Honesty is the Best Policy

Our pets treat us as they hope to be treated – unconditional love, sloppy affection, never ending support, and it’s not in their nature to lie. We turn all of that right back on them, and yet it is human nature to want to protect our pets physically AND emotionally. That may mean withholding the truth in some circumstances. I hope this post can help us to reframe our view of protecting our pets vs. supportive honesty. honesty with pet

Example: We need to tell Fluffy that we will capture her tomorrow, put her in a crate, make her take a bumpy, hot car ride, and after all those fun and games she’ll also be poked, prodded, her ears cleaned, and have a shot in the rear end. Who would blame her for hiding under the bed for the next 24 hours and hissing at you when you find her? We may think it serves us and our pet to bend or omit part of the truth. It seems easier, perhaps even kinder, to instead tell her that tomorrow she’s going to see a very nice man and it won’t hurt a bit. It’s mostly not a lie but there is a lot of omission, and she may be skeptical the next several times you reach for her while she is under the bed. The fact is, you are already carrying the energy and intention of capturing her, taking her to the vet, and you may even be holding the energy of “I hope you aren’t mad at me for this,” all of which she is picking up on. By not being honest about what the day holds, you lose points in the trust department for next time.

Let’s reframe this scenario with honesty and support. “Fluffy, I love you very much and it is my responsibility as your guardian to help you keep yourself healthy. Tomorrow we are going to take a car ride together to the nice doctor so that he can examine you and give you medicine to keep you from getting sick. I know it might be a little scary and the shot will hurt for just a moment, but I’ll be with you the whole time and then we’ll come home and you can {fill in with what she loves – play with a toy, snuggle in your lap, have a favorite special treat} and we won’t have to do that again for a whole year.” Fluffy may still hide under the bed when it is time to put her in the carrier, but your relationship with her remains one of trust and respect. Many clients have reported that the whole experience is easier when they are truthful up front.

I have so many examples of humans, myself included, sheltering our pets from bad news. It’s all done out of love and with the very best of intentions. Many clients say “I haven’t cried in front of him – I don’t want him to know that I’m so very sad that our days are numbered.” In fact, they know already, so by hiding away when you need to cry isolates you both and sometimes our pets think they have done something wrong. Reframe: “I know your body is changing, and that might feel scary for you. I’m sad and a little scared that your body is changing too, and sometimes I’m going to cry. But I promise I will be here with you every step of the way. I want us to have as many adventures, cuddles, and special treats as we can for as long as we can so that when it is time to say good-bye to each other, we’re more prepared and we’ll face that together too.” Frequently I feel a tangible shift in the animal’s emotional relaxation when their human conveys their love and support along with their honest emotions.

From now on when you have news to share, do so honestly. Upcoming vacations without the pets, preparation for surgery or medical procedures, acknowledgement that your rambunctious and extremely affectionate grandchildren are coming for a visit – they all fit into the template of empathetic truthfulness with your promise of helping your animal companions cope with whatever the circumstance. Try it – I bet it makes you feel better too when you aren’t trying to juggle all the secrets!

For the Love of Zeus

I am pleased to provide a guest article by Antonia Madunic, a client and holistic resource for me. I have been honored to work with Antonia and her Boxer, Zeus, for several years. I am in awe and appreciation of their partnership, especially through Zeus’s several health projects. He was always very clear with her – directly as well in our communication consultations – when the combination of supplements and nutrients were hitting the mark for him, or when there needed to be adjustments. Rest in Peace, sweet Zeus, and know that your wisdom continues on! Following is her introductory blog post (edited) regarding her journey into holistic and natural practices.

On February 9, 2003, a puppy was born that would change my life. Zeus was the most amazing companion a person could have. A few months prior, I was morning the loss of my beloved Boxer, Brutus. When Brutus was just seven, he was diagnosed with anal gland cancer. The prognosis was one month to live without surgery, potentially six months with surgery and chemo. I chose the route of least pain and suffering on Brutus and elected not to do surgery/chemo. At that point, I was very emotional, but I couldn’t give up on him. I was fortunate to have a mother who had extensive knowledge of alternative medicine so she took the reins. By strengthening his immune system, we were able to fight the cancer and he lived a full and happy life for three years.Zeus on 4wheeler 2

Our bodies, as well as dog bodies, are equipped with an immune system that is constantly working to keep invaders out. When we have the challenge of being predisposed to cancers and other diseases, you need to keep ahead of the game and keep their immune system in excellent shape to take on the extra burden. Because we and our pets are constantly exposed to chemicals, pollutants and stress, it can be difficult to constantly fight it off. Inflammation develops and over time, it can turn into disease.

Zeus lived to age 14, which is not only amazing for a Boxer, but a dog who had some challenges and was extremely active. When Zeus was two he was hit by a car and badly injured. The emergency vet didn’t want to operate on him, but we demanded. He completely recovered, but in the back of my mind, I always thought about what impact that would have on him later in life. He also was very active; he would run for hours a day if he could and because of that, I would take him on two hour walks just about every day to get his energy out. At the age of five, I started him on glucosamine and chondroitin, a supplement for joint health. At the age of 14, we had x-rays and he had very little arthritis, which was amazing. The thing about prevention is that you may never know what you prevented, but it does work and you need to trust that your intentions and instincts are helping your pet. I was fortunate to see one of the results of my prevention for Zeus and share this as an example of little things to incorporate.

I will also say that in my experience, it was difficult to find a veterinarian who actively recommends supplements. Through a lot of research, I managed to find one, as well as a pet herbalist, in addition to my mom helping to keep Zeus healthy and happy until the day he passed away. It’s important to find a veterinarian who aligns to your beliefs and supports the way you choose to care for your pet.

Zeus also had a string of mast cell tumors, something that Boxers are predisposed to, among other health issues. Sometimes even supplements and doing all the right things can’t prevent genetic diseases, but I’ve learned you can certainly keep the inflammation down, as well as keep disease from spreading. Zeus had so many mast cells that I lost track of the number of tumors we removed. After the first few I started Zeus on supplements that would starve the cancer so it wouldn’t metastasize as well as keeping inflammation down.  Eventually I realized that, since starting the supplements, I didn’t necessarily need to remove them all since the protocol was working.

As much as it was unbelievably painful losing Zeus, it was an honor to have him in my life and I learned so much from him. After having my first Boxer go through cancer and pass at age 10, I knew what I was getting into with getting another Boxer, but I wanted to figure out a way to defy the law of Boxer. These angels are predisposed to a lot of genetic challenges, just like a lot of other breeds, but I wanted my next Boxer to live a very long, healthy and happy life. I am writing as a tribute – to honor my angel Zeus. I know he would have wanted me to share my knowledge with other dog parents so they can help their pets live long, healthy and happy lives.

The complete article is available on the For the Love of Zeus blog. She continues this series with topics including cancer prevention and treatment, natural products for senior pets, skin/coat health, immune system, muscle injury, joint health, oral health, and pest prevention. Antonia is not a professional health practitioner and her story should not be taken as medical advice.

Animal Communication Basics for Daily Living

With a new puppy in the family I find myself returning to basics – basic puppy training and basic theory for communicating effectively. Perhaps a review of the basics is in order for all of us! wp_20160818_07_34_15_pro

We are communicating to our animals all the time. Whether we are intentional or unintentional, our pets are picking up on our energy and our telepathic communications. If you are intentional about just one thing on a daily basis let it be this: be specific and direct about what you are asking for. If we start with this premise, all other basic reminders follow naturally.

  • Say what you want, avoid communicating what you don’t want. Ex: “Be quiet” or “stay calm” is much easier to express and more likely to be heard and understood than “stop barking” or “don’t jump on me.” Give them direction so they can succeed; phrase in the positive of the outcome we are seeking.
  • Go ahead and set expectations, and do that BEFORE you need to make a correction. Ex: “Today I expect you to use the litter box every single time.” You can say this to your kitty first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed, and continue to reinforce and remind through the day.
  • Corrections are part of your life together, even when our animals are mature and have lived with us for a long time. Learning is an ongoing process. Ex: If your horse continues to have challenging trailer loading behaviors, remind her as you approach the trailer that this is a new day, and a new opportunity to load quickly and easily. A quick and easy load means getting to the destination for your trail ride that much faster, and won’t that be glorious!
  • All day, every day, share your appreciation for your beloved animal companion’s role in your life. You can be specific about how they keep you calm, teach you patience, help you laugh, or your appreciation can be general with a simple feeling of “I love all that you give to me and the family.”

How do we communicate? I like to speak my communications aloud. It helps me formulate exactly, specifically, my intended communication. Sometimes saying a phrase out loud alerts me to a better, more productive way to express my intention. You can speak silently to your pets if that is your preference. Again, the key is to formulate specific intentions then simply feel them in your heart, body, and soul.

Communicating with Wildlife

I am blessed to live in an environment with regular wildlife encounters. Just this morning I watched an elk cow and her newborn calf cautiously make their way around my house in front of my office windows, disappearing into the heavily wooded area to wait out the heat of the day. Not everyone lives with elk, deer, or fox as regular visitors; however wildlife is all around in the form of squirrels, birds, and butterflies, even in the busiest of city parks.

newborn elk calf

newborn elk calf

Is it possible to communicate with wildlife? Yes, of course, with caution. There are many valid reasons we may want to communicate with animals living in nature, and a couple communications that we shouldn’t make:

  • We can express our gratitude and appreciation for their presence. This morning I commended the momma elk for her nurturing skills and ability to guide her teeny weeny to safety; more generally I express my awe and appreciation for their magnificence.
  • I don’t ever communicate a desire for them to come closer or to trust humans more than they already do – this is not safe for them. I always appreciate and communicate at a distance and encourage them to remain at a distance as well.
  • momma elk and calf

    momma elk and calf

    It’s important we keep their instincts in mind. They need to eat, but are the potted flowers on or near our patio their only viable option? Usually not, so encouraging them to find excellent nourishment *which is meant for them to eat* is valid. As a counterpoint I explain that any plants very near a human dwelling has risk factors. Again though, I would only make this communication if I know there are other viable food options which are safe for them to find.

  • I’m always fearful when I see wildlife near heavily trafficked roadways. It’s so tempting to tell them to run away from the road, but I would feel terrible if that communication put them in some other harm’s way. Be aware of the surroundings and do your best to encourage them to move “up the hill” or “into the trees” – encourage them toward something safe but only if you know where safety is.
  • In the fall I send out a general communication to the birds as they fly to warmer climes letting them know they are welcome to return in the spring if they choose. Similarly, I tell other wildlife “have a good nap” as winter approaches. It probably doesn’t really do much for them, but I like feeling like I’m connected with nature in this way.
Black fox

Black fox

Communicating with wildlife is exciting and a great way to practice. Be clear what you are communicating and keep their instincts in mind. Enjoy!


It Can Be Magic! Finding THE Companion

By guest blogger Jackie, a client with a wonderful story to share.

There are pets and there are pets. We love them all, but occasionally we may be blessed with a magical connection. This time round, I wanted THE cat vs A cat.

My two cats and I have been in transition since Alfie arrived two years ago. He is smart and too clever, but as a result, was bored and restless. Pip was not interested in entertaining him. Although we were all content, the energy felt unsettled.

It seemed to me that a new being was the answer; I always enjoyed having a trio. Through Kelly, the boys’ needs were clarified, but this would be a challenge – we have two strong kitty personalities, plus my need for a soulmate, and a small NYC apartment – no room for conflict. Since Pip had a traumatic experience with an adult cat a few years ago, this needed to be a kitten.

Alfie, 2 years; Tess 6 months; Pip not pictured

Alfie, 2 years; Tess 6 months; Pip not pictured

The mission began in September. Fostering made sense, but neither of our two attempts was a match for all of us, and saying goodbye at the end of the fostering period was heartbreaking.

I moved on to shelters, websites, pet stores, Craig’s List. So many kittens – I kept a research notebook. I was frantic in my efforts. Nothing worked out, nobody felt right.

Kelly had one word of advice – patience. She assured me that the universe will send me this being. This virtue is not one of my gifts, but I gave it my best shot. Weeks passed. No cat in my Christmas stocking? Nobody called about a kitten in the blizzard? Seriously? How could he/she not want to be in my arms? If there were A cat for me, how exactly was this going to happen? JUST WAIT.

During this waiting period, I had two insights. First was the fact that the cats with whom I had meaningful relationships in the past chose me. Then, I realized that I was not paying attention to what really mattered – the big picture. Whatever that was, I knew I had not experienced it. JUST WAIT.

Then – I received a call from a rescue group I had met on line about a “special” four month old rescued kitten who had a rough beginning. They were looking for an owner who would be willing to work with her. I met her a few days later – I felt like I had known her forever. It was so calming, like being with an old friend. I knew her name would be TESS, and that I would be able to be patient and give her the time she needed to settle in.

Now a couple months later, Tess has completed us. She fills in our spaces. The energy in our home feels balanced. Alfie is happy to have a trainee for his many hobbies. Pip appreciates simply being admired. I have the lapcat who cuddles and looks deep into my eyes. Three cats seem easier to manage than two. They all walk around smiling and purring.

I choose to believe that Tess is THE cat for us. I also know that had I fought the timing, this may not have happened.

Introducing Young Animals

There are special challenges when introducing a puppy, kitten, or any young animal into an existing animal family. Every circumstance is unique and requires individualized solutions, and there are two recent client consultations which we can use as general examples. puppy w elder

A cat family is ready for a new kitty companion. The existing cats have been consulted before and during each foster experience which has helped the human to know what characteristics are most likely to work for all. Both existing cats have preferences: the younger of the two wants to be adored and in charge of the new addition; the elder prefers a female and needs his space. So now the human knows to focus more on female kittens, but how to assess if the kitten is capable of adoration of one and respect of the other? One of the existing cats has agreed to give a signal to his human when she returns from a kitten meet-and-greet. He’ll be able to pick up on scent and assess the kitten’s energy through his human. The human trusts her adult kitty and is grateful for his assistance.

A dog family has introduced a puppy to their two existing adult dogs with mixed results. The now “middle child” wants to get along with both, but seems to believe this will offend his existing companion. The other existing dog is feeling a bit put out and not appreciative of all the time the humans need to spend with the puppy. The family dynamic has shifted and this simply is not okay with her! After explanation and reassurance to both existing dogs that their place in the family has not changed, the family will be more conscious of spending individualized time with each dog in turn. Additionally, they will give supervised play time to the puppy and the middle child-dog separately when the offended one is out for a walk.

Whether the existing animals are feeling left out with less attention from their humans, are overwhelmed with all that never-ending youngster energy, and even for those who are thrilled with a new playmate/companion – reassurance of the existing animal’s place in the family is always helpful. Follow that up with the expectation that the routine and family dynamic WILL stabilize and become more predictable in time, and you are well on your way to a harmonious and happy animal family!