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An Old Dog Teaches New Gratitude

An Old Dog Teaches New Gratitude

Photo: senior dog Pextra meeting one of the squirrels who had come for breakfast at the Wild Reiki Cafe. A very exciting moment for her. Squirrel was not impressed. Crow Rogue waits in the background for his breakfast. Rogue took my having a small barky dog at my side in stride when I eventually came out with the tribute of cashews.

My friend had a family emergency and no one to take care of her dog, so senior Chihuahua Pextra ended up staying with us for a few days. It was a learning experience for all.

It was the first time there had been a dog in the house since Puma passed over seven years ago. All of my previous canine companions have been 75 lbs. and up, so having a 5 lb. mighty mite around who was also elderly was a new experience. I’m already cat-trained to watch my feet, so that was not a problem. The biggest issues were that Pextra had never lived with cats, Night Sky had never shared space with a dog, and Manitou has been recovering from a health issue. Careful introductions were in order.

First introductions went well. Pextra was quiet and subdued, and I did my best to communicate the guest rules to her and the cats. Manitou is friendly with the small poodle next door, so he was mostly at ease. After an initual puff up, Night Sky’s curiousity emerged. By bedtime all three were in close proximity as I doled out portions of Gerber all-meat baby food to each in turn. Nothing says species relations like the diplomatic language of shared food, lol.

My concerns about 14-year-old Pextra’s ability to adjust seemed groundless. She settled right in, and was quiet all night.

However, the dawn of a new day gave birth to a new side of Pextra. I can now say that I understand why people love Chihuahua’s and also why they say they are difficult to train. As Pextra’s comfort level grew, so did her bossiness.

Claiming her territory meant barking at everyone who passed the front door, and both cats. Manitou stood his ground at first, but Night Sky ran. Big mistake—the chase was on. If I had not been so concerned for the balance of the household and the stress on Manitou, I might have laughed to see an arthritic 14-year-old, five lb. Chihuahua chasing muscular three-year-old, 14 lb. cat Night Sky. And Pextra could not even chase him throughout the house—she would stop at the edge of the rug because she found the hardwood floors slippery. In time, Night Sky might have figured out her limits, but for now Pextra was a scary, loud monster who was taking over his house.

I tried to logically put the situation into perspective for Night Sky, but had no luck. There are limits to animal communication and energy work, and he was convinced that she was going to eat him.

I did not have any better luck in creating boundaries for Pextra regarding the cats. I finally accepted that this was one old dog that was not going to learn a new trick and resigned myself to keeping Pextra apart from the cats as much as possible.

I did enjoy getting to know Pextra and discovering what she liked. As a senior, she did very well in adjusting to a completely new environment. I even discovered something about her that my friend did not know—Pextra loved to have her butt and thighs gently massaged. This made her so happy that she would do head stands and spin turns, finally flopping on her back so that I could also tickle her tummy, which sent her into further joyful wriggles, which made me laugh.

For a few days we all did our best to live in the moment. My cats were gracious in acknowledging that we were doing a good thing, but when Night Sky saw her leaving to go back home, he came out from hiding and stood in the window to watch. He did not hurl taunts her way, but I could feel him relax, and Manitou did the same. And while I definitely enjoyed getting to know Pextra, and supporting my friend in a dark moment, I also felt myself relax from a state of heightened vigilance.

As a “thank you” to the tolerance my cats exhibited for a small canine whirlwind, I built an early fire in the fireplace. As the three of us sat together, basking in the warmth and cheer of the dancing flames, it felt as though we had greater depth as a family. Together we had faced a challenge and emerged stronger.

And as I reflect on what I am thankful for as Thanksgiving approaches in a crazy year that has been filled with challenges great and small, I am very grateful to Pextra for shaking up the routines of our household and reminding me of the many moments of happiness that I sometimes take for granted.

This year, as I say a prayer of thanks for my wonderful friends and family (human and animal), and for my students, clients and readers, I will be including thanks for Pextra, and All My Relations, wild and domestic.

If you would like to join me, the prayer in Thanksgiving with the Animals is one that that can be said every day—not just on one special day. It offers gratitude for all our Relatives with whom we share this world: Stone People, Plant/Tree People, Animals, Earth, Water, Winds, etc.

And the Animal Ambassadors and I also hope you will join us for upcoming class Listening to Zoo Animal Ambassadors which is starting soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Rose De Dan, Manitou and Night Sky
Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing


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©2020 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.

Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.

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