Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Animal Healers August 6, 2014

A couple of years ago I babysat a precious golden retriever puppy for three days so my son and his wife could surprise their sons with her on Christmas morning. During that time she developed some digestive issues and by Christmas day she was in obvious distress, needing to be let out of the house every fifteen minutes or so. Was it my fault? Had she eaten a poisonous plant in our yard or swallowed something she couldn’t pass? The thought that I might be responsible was agonizing and I wondered for the umpteenth time why we get so attached to animals and experience some of our greatest joys and deepest sorrows because of them.

Certainly mammals have body structures, nervous systems, organs, instinctual needs, and even DNA very similar to ours. So when they’re sick, wounded or in pain, we know how they feel. Moreover, although most animals can try to flee from danger, there are always forces—including humans and Nature herself—that are far more powerful. Knowing our own fears and vulnerability, we can relate to that aspect of animals too.

Then there’s the unconditional love some animals give us. It’s so comforting when your dog follows you around, your cat purrs contentedly in your lap, or your horse comes running at your approach. You feel known, appreciated, valued. A happy, thriving pet reminds you that you can be loving, nurturing and morally responsible. We crave these good feelings and love the animals who elicit them, so it’s only natural that we get emotional when they suffer or die.

Repression and projection have something to do with the magical relationship we have with animals too. All of us deny some of our unwanted qualities and project them onto people and animals.  For example, I once knew a tough-minded woman who showed no emotion when  talking about her own difficult circumstances, yet she cried easily at the thought of abused animals. To her it felt safe to sympathize with the pain and helplessness of a dog or cat, but she was unwilling to feel her own pain.

At the time I didn’t know if anyone else noticed this about her, but it was painfully obvious to me.  From where did this insight come?  Personal experience. When my parents divorced I cried my heart out. But when my father died three months later I didn’t shed a tear. I was so traumatized that I shut down emotionally so I wouldn’t hurt any more. Denying pain became so important to me that I even refused novocaine when I went to the dentist! For years I couldn’t cry for myself but I could use up a box of tissues watching an animal movie. I still can!

Animals mirror our unconscious, instinctual selves.   This is why we love our pets so much. As they are vulnerable, so are we.  As they suffer, so do we. We know how they feel, they seem to know how we feel. We think we understand them; they seem to understand who we really are. We know we have unlovable shadows, yet they love us anyway. We see their instinctual shadows, and we love them anyway. Because they  trust and depend on us we do not take their devotion or suffering lightly.  We deal with it as best we can, and we know we are better for having made the effort. In the process of learning compassion for them, we discover that we are as deserving of love as they are.

Over the years Miss Lottie, a sensuous Siamese cat; Peri, a perky little chihuahua/terrier mix; Shadow, an elegant, high-strung thoroughbred gelding; and Bear, a handsome and gentle golden retriever, have been my teachers, therapists and healers. Training and caring for them taught me patience and respect for the ways of others. Their simple joy in being alive taught me greater awareness and appreciation for my body and the life in it. Their love and devotion to me helped me feel and express more tenderness and love to everyone, including myself. And the copious tears I shed at their deaths softened my heart and taught me more compassion for others who suffer loss.

By the way, Isabella, or Izzy as Matt’s family called their new puppy, was fine the next day. Apparently her problem was caused by the rawhide puppy treats I gave her to keep her from chewing on my kitchen cabinets. I felt terrible about it, but she kept loving me anyway. And now that she’s come to live with me for the summer,  I remember something I forgot after Bear died.  Being with her makes me feel better about myself. It’s a mysterious thing, this healing power of animals, but it’s real.  And I’m deeply grateful for it.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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13 Responses to “Animal Healers”

  1. Helen Says:

    I loved reading this this morning, sitting on my porch, Gracie purring beside me! So true all that you say, Jeanie. Thank you for this reflection.

    • jeanraffa Says:

      And thank you, Helen. Few things are as healing and comforting as the conversations we’ve had on your porch, surrounded by the cool forest breezes while Gracie quietly surveys her enchanted realm.

  2. Darla Says:

    This is a lovely post chock-full of subtle insights and expanding interpretations; thank you. I often invite the experiences of the animals living with me into writing portals; placing myself into their situations often opens up a niche I hadn’t realized was within. And by writing through this animal-window, I realize how easy it is for me to become caught up in mental attachments to beliefs surrounding what really, simply is a state of being … I’ve always loved the term “Guardians of Being” for animals (I read it in the teachings of Eckhart Tolle though it may have been used elsewhere as well). [Interesting; I experienced a strong deja vu while reading/writing this!]

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Thank you, Darla. I’m very interested in your comment that you “often invite the experiences of the animals living with me into writing portals; placing myself into their situations often opens up a niche I hadn’t realized was within,” That’s not something I’ve ever thought to try, but i it sounds like a very effective way to get closer in touch with one’s instinctual self! This has been my goal of late, especially since I read Anne Baring’s The Soul of the Cosmos, in which she says that our instincts are the seat/source of our creativity! This is something I will definitely try! And I love the term “Guardians of Being.” I’ve never heard it before but it feels absolutely right! Many thanks for these new insights! Jeanie

      • Darla Says:

        I’m so very pleased to have shared something new with you, Jeanie. You’ve opened so much perspective for me through *your* writing — here and in your books — that it’s fun to reciprocate a little. :-) Perhaps you will post one of your “animal instinct” writings here! I usually write through their illnesses or imbalances because they are so present and accepting; it’s remarkable what I can feel when attempting to reach into myself through them and I feel a different kind of connection to them when this happens. On the flip side, if I write into a difficult situation that *I* had but try to see it through *their* eyes, that’s enlightening as well. An example of this is my on-going serial called “The Guardian” … which is seeing through my dog’s eyes an intense relationship that I had in the past. If you’re curious, the link to that is here (you’ll have to scroll to the bottom for the first entry): http://kitsnk9s.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Guardian

      • jeanraffa Says:

        I like both perspectives: seeing through their difficult situations with their eyes and your situations through their eyes. Either way, their closeness to nature and inability to lie would seem to be a marvelous balance to the ego’s normal lack of objectivity! I love it!! Thanks so much. I look forward to visiting The Guardian to see how it works asap!. Thank you, Jeanie

  3. Annette Gluskin-Habin Says:

    Hello Jeannie: This was a particularly touching posting to me, since Ron and I are dealing with the decline of one of our “twin boys”. We have two golden tabby cats, Tony and Bennett (-: . Tony has blood cancer which has spread to many organs, including his liver. We’ve loved them and they’ve loved us for 13 years. Miraculously, about a month ago we thought Tony was about to leave us. He had stopped eating, and slept most of the day on one particular rug in a back room. We prayed and took care of him and gave him permission to leave when he was ready. We also gave extra attention to Bennett who was feeling very needy. All of a sudden, it seemed that Tony made the choice to keep living. We are clear that his cancer is still there and can see the tumors in his body, now under six pounds from 15 pounds. He started eating and drinking water again and began interacting with all of us, despite his fragility and weakness. We are enjoying every precious moment together, for however long we have together. Thank you for your beautiful posting.

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Hello, Annette, It’s good to hear from you. I’m so sorry to hear that you and Ron are facing the decline of your beloved animal friend. I know how tough that is. Your description of his amazing comeback is fascinating. Wouldn’t you love to know what that’s all about? Perhaps one day you will….. I’ll be thinking of you in the days to come, and hoping that when it’s time to go, Tony will have a fast and peaceful death. My best to you and Ron, and thank you for writing. I’m glad this post was meaningful to you. Jeanie

  4. FARID Says:

    DEAR JEAN
    DID YOU READ LIVING IN BORDERLAND ,JEROME S BERNSTEIN?THANK YOU

  5. frankramer Says:

    Beautiful, Jean. I really liked this blog.


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