The signal that changed my life

Well yesterday’s Animals & the Other Side webinar was a super cool thing. Even when I woke up this morning, I was still feeling the “afterglow” I always get after teaching a big class!

I love how many people in the world truly, wholeheartedly love the animals in their life. These are people (like you and me) who grieve just as hard for our dog/cat/fish who just crossed over as we do for our mother or brother.

It’s because we’ve experienced the unconditional love that animals have to offer!

But this gets me thinking about those animals who don’t outright offer unconditional love: abused animals, animals that are eaten, animals that are aggressive…

How do we experience their unconditional love – because it must be in there, right?

Well, it IS in there. And my own dog, Tuukka, is an example.

We rescued Tuukka from some place in Kentucky. By the time she got to us she’d already been with two different rescue organizations, three different families, and made the trek up to New England from down south. And she was only four months old.

Her early challenges created some interesting personality quirks. Like, no- huge. She does not want to be hugged. Does not want to cuddle up in a ball with us on the bed. Does not want to get in our laps.

But she’s full of love and we know it. So what to do?

Well, first, we don’t care about her past. In fact, I don’t think (even in my own head), I’d ever listed out her early challenges so clearly as I just did here in this email before. It’s just not a thing. It’s not that we are ignoring it, we just choose to look at her as who she is.

Which is a kind of weird dog whom we totally love.

And we found our own little ways around her personality quirks (as that’s what we call them.)

My husband wants nothing more than to hug her and she wants nothing less, but they found a happy medium. She’ll do the head nuzzle where Kevin rubs his head all over hers and she rubs his head back. It’s their thing.

I, on the other hand, love petting Tuukka because I’m not allergic to her. Plus, she’s so soft! But she’s finicky about her boundaries. She doesn’t want to be pet all the time, only when she wants to – so I taught her to gently put a paw on my hand or arm when she wants to be pet. And now that she can ask for her needs to be met, it all works out very well!

If we had, instead, started telling the story of a scared dog who had a hard life before coming to us, we’d be the ones preventing Tuukka from living a full life because we, as the humans in the relationship, have the power to set that energy.

Instead, by living in the present moment with our animals, (which is one of the biggest things animals want us to do!), we’re able to give her everything she deserves and loves.

Have you found a way to do this with the animals in your life? Meet them where they are? Tell me about it

8 replies
  1. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    Yes! I always see every rescue dog as balance and joy. Of course that isn’t usually the case, so I respect their preferences and see them as just right. Great article😊

  2. Janet Conway
    Janet Conway says:

    Several years ago, a “skin & bones” Pitbull stray dog showed up at my Mom’s house. She started living under the handicap ramp there. She would only come out when we fed my Mom’s dog. And, of course, we fed her too. She would wag her tail, but would not let anyone get close to her. After several weeks, she had a litter of puppies in the shed. She still would not let anyone get close to her. When the puppies were four weeks old, I gathered them up to take to my house. Once I had them loaded in my Jeep, I reached down and picked up the Mama dog and loaded her up too. It was the first time any of us had touched her. After a few days, she actually started letting me pet her and spend time with her and the pups. What I saw! She had an old wound which looked like a really long gash down one side. Her hips bones were somewhat crooked and the worst … all her teeth had been filed down. I instantly knew she had been used as part of a dog fighting ring. Time went on and I found homes for the pups. By then, the Mama dog, Ginger, had integrated well with my pack of dogs (8 at the time) and had actually started coming in my house when they did. I told her that I understood she had lived through really bad times, but those times were over. I told her she was safe with me and that she would never, ever go hungry again. The trust was coming, slowly, but surely. She would hunt with the others during the day and come in at night. Oh the joy on her face when they would come in after a day of playing/hunting in the woods. I never pushed her to do anything. She started sleeping on a bed on the floor right beside my side of the bed. I would reach down all thru the night just to gently pet her. I had gained her trust! The strangest things would cause her so much fear, i.e., when she heard the flick of a cigarette lighter, she would jump up from a dead sleep and run down the hall with her tail tucked. Who knows what horrible memory that brought back for her! Ginger’s been gone from this earth for 5 years now. She lived with me for about 4 years, before her kidneys started to fail. At that point, she was actually sleeping in the bed with me at night. My husband and I have rescued dogs for over 20 years. We currently have 11. We live in the country where dogs are dumped on the side of the road and left to starve and there is no animal control. Of all the dogs we have had the pleasure of calling our “children with fur”, Ginger was by far the sweetest, most gentle, most appreciative! She had seen and lived the worst in her lifetime, but I made sure she knew all the love and joy she could possibly feel. I am so thankful that God brought her to me and allowed her to teach me the lessons I learned from her. I can still feel her joy … just remembering the happiness on her face after coming in from a day’s hunt. It was magical and it still brings tears to my eyes to this day.

  3. Jessica P.
    Jessica P. says:

    Hi Danielle-
    I am sorry this is a bit off topic but I wasn’t sure where I should post this question or find where it has been answered. Maybe if you have not answered this you can discuss it in one of your blogs or webinars? When you are doing a reading with somebody’s pet, how do you differentiate whether the information you are receiving is from the dog or being projected by the human? I have always been curious about this.

  4. Amy
    Amy says:

    I had horses when I was in high school and I thought I would surely get another one once I was done with school and was working. Well, I did buy one but it took me almost 25 years. During the time I was trying to find a horse the market was minimal for horses in my price range. I looked for six months and finally settled on a retired Thoroughbred mare who was 11 years old. She had run 10 races and raised two babies. The day I went to look at her was 98 degrees outside. She seemed very mellow and easy to ride. Sold. I brought her home and realized that she was not the horse the I first rode. She never lived in the country so everything was new and scary to her. Within the first week of having her, I took her to a horse clinic. This was a situation she never experienced before so she was not very trusting of anything, so she acted like a race horse — RUN!! It was probably one of the worst weekends of my life. The instructor told me I needed to sell her and buy a horse more “suitable” for me. I did try but each time someone was interested in her I changed my mind. This went on for six months. Finally, I decided that she was my horse for a reason and despite her “issues” I was going to keep her. I had lessons with a wonderful woman who showed me what a treasure I had. My mare (now named Barbara instead of her previous barn name of Barbie) just needed to be treated gently and calmly. I found out how smart she was, how much she wanted to please, but most of all how kind she was. She also could be moody and stubborn, but so can I. Her behavior wasn’t that of a “bad” horse but a misunderstood one. I have learned so much from her, not only about horses but how to treat people. I have learned I have to stay grounded, make sure my energy is strong, breathe deeply, relax, and take all the time that is needed. This meant I needed to take the time to show her that something that seemed so scary was simply a white plastic bag, a chicken or something that she had seen every day but now was terrifying. I’ve had her for 8 years and slowly she did begin to trust me and my leadership. I grew enormously in my horsemanship skills. Barbara is a wonderful horse and I’m so grateful she came into my life. One day my husband asked me how long I would be riding; my response was “as long as it takes”. There is a saying in the horse world but I think it applies to all pets and people, “You don’t get the horse you want, you get the horse you need.” I am so grateful that she came into my life even though it took me months to see her value. I can honestly say I am a better person because of her.

  5. Michaela Fetterolf
    Michaela Fetterolf says:

    My Maggie Mae Princess Pie was a couple years old when I got her. She was found in the middle of the woods by a friend of a friend. She couldn’t keep her because Maggie didn’t get along with her dog. Maggie was sweet with the rescuer and stayed with her without a leash. Then I take her home……granted there was a very spoiled dachshund, king of the house there and my roommates big oaf of a dog. She peed whenever you were loud, happy, sad, it didn’t matter if it was at her or not. I’d go to pet her and she’d pee. The walking while she peed. She wouldn’t come to me when I called her to come in from the fenced in yard. She was afraid of doors and I’d have to be behind the door and have it open all the way. I was very patient with her. For many years. And successfully converted her to a love bug where she would cuddle (for a certain amount of time), was a lap dog, we’d play and chase each other, she’d come when called. I wasn’t going to give up on her, I knew she was just scared. I had her for about 12yrs before I had to have her put down. Her heart problems got worse over the years that medicine couldn’t help anymore. Hardest thing I ever did. I’m so very proud of her to trust and love again. And let me spoil her like the princess she was.

  6. Debbie UK
    Debbie UK says:

    Mikey (cat) came to me as un-homeable from the CPL…with special needs like being deaf, partially sighted, brain damaged and inclined to yell for breakfast at 2 am (every day for all his life) he was a challenge. He was not fond of cuddles either but was one of the most loving little cats I have ever met. He exuded love just by looking at you and you only had to touch his coat and he would jump up and come over to see how he could help. He also loved driving in the car (safely in his basket)…until drives started to mean monthly vet trips and then he went off that past time, sadly.
    I confess I wasn’t Mother Theresa at every 2 am and didn’t realise that even though he was deaf he might be able to intuit my anglo saxon. But you only had to look at his precious face and melt with love all over again. His health issues escalated with time until his quality of life was unacceptable. I hope to make contact with him now he has passed, one day, and with Danielle’s help/teaching; partly to apologise for those times I was tired and ill and not into 2 a.m. breakfasts and to tell him just how much I will always love him. And would give anything to get our breakfasts at 2 a.m. again…

  7. Katja
    Katja says:

    Dear Danielle, I completely agree with you. We should pick up the animals from the moment and not from their past. This is such a human thing, to hang around in the past, feel sorry, pity or even their pain. But I also feel ,that they don´t want this. The want us to be in the moment and to live in the moment. And that means to leave the past behind. I had to learn that with my dogs and now the new puppy that came into my life. I know a bit about its past and her being only two months old, but I left the story outside my front door when we entered the house for the first time. And it is amazing to see how she behaves after a few days settling in: as if there had been no other home, she is confident, independent and happy. Funny enough, she doesn´t want that much cuddling either, but it is ok. I have to learn to accept that as well. And another point that I see: when an animal (with a past) comes into our home, we still need to show him/ her our boundaries, but when we think about its past and have pity, then we won´t be able to teach those to the animal and we will have a challenging life with him/her.

  8. Gloria Bassoli
    Gloria Bassoli says:

    Hey Danielle
    My own little rescue, Foxy, comes from the harsh and cruel Romanian streets. She was locked in with 400 other dogs in just one of many many holding areas, as part of the romanian auuthorities’ pledge to clear all street dogs. They were being slowly starved with only enough food (by which i mean disgusting slops) to keep them alive for 14 days. After that, they would be killed in any and every cruel way as he authorities would not spend money on euthanasia. Foxy is loving, especially with children, and is very vocal, but she would not play or go belly up for tummy rubs. Until recently, that is, and the day that she finally did that, and the fake biting that goes along with it, i knew that she felt really safe and part of our gang. He feeling i got was priceless!
    God bless


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