Big Ben

Big Ben was a big, handsome, black and red coated boy who’d lost his way. In his first home, he’d never received training or guidance. As a result, his sweet disposition, his polite nature, and his excellent obedience skills became overshadowed by his resource-guarding behavior. Without guidance, he became aggressive, guarding his people, his food, and his territory in general. And because of his size and power, Ben could be dangerous and unpredictable. When I asked him why he was aggressive, he said that he was worried about things getting out of control. He was simply trying to establish order and structure.

When he came to rescue, we paired him with a trainer and reinforced his training with a team consisting of our most savvy volunteers. In time, he settled into a more peaceful routine. But his past was imbedded in his character, and Ben would need a home with structure, gentle but constant guidance, and strong yet compassionate leadership.

Ben was a stunning, commanding boy. He tipped the scales at 100 pounds and his long, luxurious coat made him seem even bigger and more imposing. He was with us for just a few months when he found his first home. But after eighteen months, divorce shattered his family. And Ben was returned to rescue. And we were back to square one. BigBen_1Ben’s training had been neglected. So we placed him in training again to rebuild the foundation we’d once built with him. And he needed a makeover. He’d gained twenty pounds while he was with his first family, so Big Ben was huge now.

Despite his aggression issues, Ben was loyal and devoted and generally great with people. And despite the lack of training in his previous home, he had retained his knowledge of basic commands like sit, stay, down, up, and shake. All we needed to do was tune him up and look for a savvy and communicative home. Why? Ben was a talker. He loved to express his point of view via his vocal stylings!

After a one-year wait, Ben found a family. A husband and wife team came to meet Ben with their five-year-old GSD Baron in tow. They were smart, savvy people undeterred by Ben’s size and challenges. Baron was huge, big-boned, and also coated; he could have been Ben’s twin. Now Ben had a family and a brother.

Sometimes when we have a dog like Ben, we wonder: will we ever find him or her the right home? Will we ever find a match? But we have faith that there’s someone out there for everyone. There’s someone looking for this dog. There’s someone willing to take on even the most challenging dogs. And it happens. The right family steps up. It’s all about timing. And when it happens, it is wonderful and inspiring.

Ben now has a home where he knows exactly what to do. His boundaries are clear. He is lovingly guided and accepted. His mistakes are seen just as that, just mistakes that are correctable. His humans are committed to giving Ben the best life possible. They pay attention to everything and let Ben know he is home…finally he was really home.

 

Kona’s Search for Acceptance

An impressive black and tan German Shepherd dog, she was named after the small town of Kona, located on the big island of Hawaii. Its meaning, leeward, refers to the dry side of the island, and it’s an expansive section of coastline.  Her family had fond memories of their time on the island. Now four, she had lived with her family since she was eight weeks old. Sadly, her human mom had contracted a progressively debilitating disease. And Kona’s love of being glued to her mom now meant that even a slight unintentional bump from Kona could cause her mom to fall and be injured. After much anguished soul-searching, the family finally knew that they must relinquish her to rescue. When they brought her in, they shared a huge album filled with photos documenting Kona’s world so that our volunteers would know her history and her life. The couple tearfully shared story after story about their beloved dog and their memories of her. And when it was time to leave, they walked away with their heads hanging and their hearts heavy.

We quickly placed Kona in a foster home with an older dog and a cat. Cats were new to Kona, and she tried to practice restraint, but if the cat ran, Kona would follow! But she adored her new foster mom and was always at her side. Kona tipped the scales at about 100 pounds, so you can imagine the challenge of navigating your home with a large dog underfoot. In addition, Kona was a pro at counter surfing, hand mouthing, couch jumping, and dinner stealing. So a refresher in House Manners 101 was in order. But she was smart and willing and fast to learn, and she flourished in her foster home. She loved car rides, long walks, fun toys, and napping in her cushy crate.

I tuned into her and asked her what she was looking for in a home. Her answer: to be accepted for who she was. On her terms.

As we got to know her, we learned that she had a special talent for opening gates. And on her occasional visits to doggie daycare, it wasn’t uncommon for her to open the gates connecting the play areas of the big dogs and the little dogs to let them mingle. She also managed to let herself out of the playground by opening two gates in succession. Maybe she was channeling her inner Harry Houdini? Unfortunately and perhaps due to missing her original family, Kona developed separation anxiety, and it was challenging for her to left alone.

So we searched for a quiet home with another confident dog and humans who were home a lot. The brilliant part of this story is that a couple became interested in Kona as a companion for their dog Buck. They had tons of experience with separation anxiety since Buck suffered from it, so Kona’s issues wouldn’t be daunting for them. Here’s the twist. The couple thought that Buck wasn’t very playful, and they were looking for a mellow companion for him. Turns out the reason Buck wasn’t playful is that he never had another canine to play with! Things are party central in Buck and Kona’s home now, and from reports the first night was pretty wild. But all is settled now, and everyone is happy and in love. And no more separation anxiety for Kona! In addition to opening gates, Kona loves water. Her new home has a fish pond, and splashing around in it has become one of her favorite things, although Buck was always a little indifferent to it.

We hear that things in her new home are going beautifully. Kona and Buck are bonded playmates. And that fish pond that Buck never was interested in? Well, apparently Kona showed him how much fun that could be. Luckily, Kona’s new family thinks that the dogs’ penchant for the pond is adorable!

When I tapped into Kona to ask her why she thought her new family chose her, she offered me one word. Adequate. Which means acceptable in quantity or quality. I’d always thought of the word in terms of “that will do.” I now have a different understanding of it. In Kona’s world, it means to be accepted for what you are. Wholly accepted. Worthy. What a beautiful word. And exactly what she was looking for.

What Dogs Know About the Power of Empathy

Empathy is a powerful emotion, it gives us the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. The importance empathy plays in our lives is that it allows us to treat the people we care about the way we wish they would treat themselves. And it allows us to better understand the needs of people around us, and to more clearly understand the perception we create in others with our words and actions.

Dogs are masters of empathy. They know when we are sad or blue and they communicate that to us through physical contact. And we’ve all seen photos of dogs laying on the grave of a departed human companion or keeping watch over an injured friend. Scientific research has established that dogs are empathetic to human feelings; in a groundbreaking 2016 study, researchers evaluated dogs’ empathy for other dogs. Study results suggest that not only do dogs empathize with the distress of other dogs, but they also show sympathetic concern. Anyone who’s ever loved a dog can testify to their ability to read our moods and celebrate our highs and support us through our lows. Here are 3 things that dogs know about the power of empathy.

  1. Empathy is an act of love. It requires opening our hearts to the feelings someone else is experiencing. It’s especially important to practice empathy when your life is flourishing in all areas. Opening ourselves at a time when everything is going our way allows us to give back to others who aren’t in the same place and offer our own personal fulfillment to be poured back into the greater whole.

 

  1. In the spiritual sense, it allows us to open up our chakra’s or our energy centers, particularly the source of our intuition. When we do, we are more awakened to feelings of love and devotion for those who need us and ultimately all humanity.

 

  1. To show empathy is like offering a burst of spiritual sunshine that encourages others to replace the darkness of a troubled mind and soul. It creates a bridge of compassion and understanding to everyone who shares your life path.

What Dogs Know About the Power of Love

Anyone who’s ever been loved by a dog knows that dogs are the essence of love. They love with their whole heart and being, unconditionally and without boundaries. You can see it in the way their tales wag their entire body, in the joyful abandon with which they celebrate our return home after a long day, and in the gentle way they lean into us when they know we’re hurting. Dogs are the masters of pure love.

As an animal communicator, I’m often approached by someone who has just lost a beloved dog, to do a final reading to connect, seek closure, and attempt to begin the healing process. The first thing every dog tells me is how deeply they loved, loved, loved their human. And they tell me about the beautiful life they had with that person. Teachers of sacred geometry and dimensional healing have told me that each animal on the planet is here to teach us and to help us evolve. Dogs are here to help us transition from the third dimension to the fourth dimension which is connected to pure love. But one of the most important things about love is that it must start with loving ourselves. Here are 5 things dogs want us to know, not just about love, but how the power of self love opens us up to all things about love.

  1. To give it freely and to never hold back. Lean into the power of sharing love without expectation.

  2. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Find the wonder and beauty of even the tiniest thing and let it fill your heart until you are overflowing with love.

  3. Create sacred space and a sanctuary for yourself—a place where you can go within and seek inner peace, clarity, and vision. When you do, you open yourself fully to love.

  4. Love is the infinite and ultimate potential of the human race and the path that allows us to manifest for the greater good of all.

  5. Love is the ultimate path that awakens and connects us more deeply to the unity, grace, and spiritual treasures in our world.