On your most challenging days you can always count on your pet to greet you at the door when you come home or cuddle up in your lap in the evening. They are a vital part of your home life all year long, but when your life takes you away from home — as it often does during summer travel — are you thinking of them before you head out the door?
With so much to pack and prepare for your trip, it’s easy to forget about those you’ll leave behind, like your pets. That’s why if you're planning to leave for a day or longer, you should make sure to employ these five tips to make sure your pet is happy and safe while you're away.
Having a pet doesn’t mean you need to put your summer plans on hold, it just adds another layer to your planning process. Apply the tips above, and you and your pet will be happy and comfortable until the trip is over and you’re reunited.
Supporting an animal’s natural ability to self-heal
By Karen Thomas, RN, Healing Touch for Animals Practitioner
Many of you have or know of an animal who is suffering from injury or illness, or is struggling with behavior challenges. Often animal lovers easily recognize these challenges but do not know how to help their beloved friends. Our animals’ inability to verbalize what they need can leave their human companions feeling stressed and helpless. As a Healing Touch for Animals Practitioner I am dedicated to helping these animals by using a language they both understand - energy therapy.
Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) is a holistic approach influencing the health and well-being of animals through energy and intention. Heart-centered energy therapy restores harmony and balance to the animal’s energy system while providing physical, emotional, mental and instinctual stability. Stabilizing the energy system allows the natural flow of the immune system which supports the animal’s natural self-healing process and promotes well-being.
HTA can be used on all species of all ages, small and large, and benefits our animals in many ways:
What happens during a Healing Touch for Animals Session?
Upon meeting the animal in person or through distant communication, I assess the animal’s energy system and connect with his or her spirit. I will then utilizes appropriate HTA techniques using touch and intention to clear, balance and strengthen their energy system. This treatment may include aromatherapy with therapeutic-grade essential oils, sound and/or vibrational therapy with the use of tuning forks. Usually the first response noted is relaxation which is the foundation for optimal health. I will often receive messages from the animal in the form of pictures, words and feelings through animal communication which assists with the healing process as well. A single session can take up to an hour depending on the animal and situation.
Healing Touch for Animals works in cooperation with traditional veterinarian medicine to provide the best care for our animal companions. HTA practitioners will work in conjunction with any veterinary diagnosed and prescribed treatment plan. As a cooperative practice this modality serves to bridge holistic animal health care with traditional veterinary science.
In home and distant therapy sessions
I offer Healing Touch energy work in the comfort of the animal’s home or the environment where they’re most at ease. My range of travel, at this time, is open to all of the Florida Keys.
If you are outside of the travel range or the home environment is not suitable this work can still be done distantly since energy is not limited by time or space. During distant work it is helpful to create a quiet and relaxed atmosphere for the animal during the scheduled sessions. The session will take place during an agreed upon time and be followed up by a telephone or email consultation for feedback and questions.
For more information on Healing Touch for Animals or to book a session please visit my website at www.pawsitivetouch.org
Reference: Komitor, C. CMT, HTCP/I, CHBMT, HTACP, ESMT (2013). Healing touch for animals level 3 workbook (6th ed.). Highlands Ranch, CO: Komitor Healing Method, Inc.
By Karen Thomas
Losing a pet is never easy, no matter how much we think we’re prepared. Our faithful companions give us so much unconditional love and joy, and it’s comforting to know that there are many ways we can support them during the last phase of their lives.
My partner, Daashia, and I recently lost our beloved nine-year-old Mastiff/American Bulldog mix, Phoenix, two months after he was diagnosed with oral cancer. As painful as it was to let go, I can now reflect on how very beautiful the end of his life was.
For years I would volunteer at local animal shelters and find myself gravitating to the senior, sick or otherwise ‘difficult to adopt’ animals. In one way or another they were nearing the end of their lives, and I wanted to contribute to giving them the love, respect and gratitude they deserved.
During my Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) training, I learned techniques to utilize during a euthanasia procedure. These techniques serve to bridge this lifetime to the next realm using love and compassion. I had the honor of supporting several animal clients through this process of crossing over the rainbow bridge.
Around the end of my formal training I attended the American Animal Hospital Association conference and listened to a presentation by Dr. Kathleen Cooney, DVM, president of The International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). This concept of animal hospice resonated with the very core of my being, and I knew I needed to pursue this area of study. As a registered nurse for over twenty-three years I’ve had much experience with hospice for humans, and always thought the philosophy should apply to our animal companions as well. I began utilizing the concepts in my private practice and saw how bonding was enhanced and spirits were lifted.
In September, 2015 Daashia and I decided, rather spur of the moment, to pack up our RV and take our three dogs - Phoenix, Libby and Skylar, on a road trip to Arizona. Our schedules somehow opened up in such a way that we had more than three weeks to enjoy time with our dogs camping, hiking and exploring new places. We found something exciting in every place we stopped to enjoy as a family.
One evening a few weeks after we arrived home, near the end of October, Daashia and I noticed Phoenix was having trouble swallowing. Upon closer inspection we found a walnut-size mass on the back part of the roof of his mouth, which seemed to have come out of nowhere. When our skilled and accomplished vet, Dr. Dunn, said the mass appeared too deep for him to remove and referred us to specialists in Miami, my heart sank. I knew this wasn’t good.
The next day we drove to Miami where two different specialists examined Phoenix. They both concluded that this tumor was indeed cancerous and could not be successfully removed due to its size and location. The oncologist discussed radiation to try to shrink it. The thought of putting Phoenix through that did not resonate with us at all. At that moment we decided to skip the suggested biopsy, take him home and treat him palliatively.
After a few days of letting this reality sink in and witnessing this tumor grow before our eyes, Daashia and I made peace with the fact that we could not ‘fix’ this. We surrendered and then embraced the idea that Phoenix was now an official hospice patient, and we were going to make the very best of his days left on Earth.
Over the next two months our lives shifted rapidly as our daily routine focused on Phoenix. Collaborating with our amazing vet we put together a holistic plan of care. In addition to his already healthy lifestyle I added Raindrop Therapy (using all organic, therapeutic-grade essential oils) with massage almost daily to support his immune system. He was taking Frankincense oil internally along with a mushroom complex, CBD hemp oil and supportive herbs. I also gave Phoenix HTA treatments daily and alternated sound and vibrational therapy.
Within the first couple days of this new routine Phoenix caught on quickly. He would joyfully saunter into the healing room around the same time each day to happily receive his therapy. I also prepared home cooked meals for him and pureed them for ease of swallowing. Phoenix was enjoying organic chicken, beef, eggs and freshly caught fish, along with a variety of veggies and complex starches. To say he was over the moon about all of this is quite an understatement. Our other two dogs, Libby and Skylar, truly understood and accepted what was happening. They gave Phoenix plenty of space to rest and offered a beautiful calm healing presence when I was working with him.
Phoenix loved swimming at the beach, shredding coconuts and most of all riding on a paddle board with Daashia. She would take him out on calm days, and he would be willing to stay on the board for hours. Jumping off the board for a short swim then climbing back on quickly became a favorite activity. When he wasn’t resting, swimming or receiving treatments, Phoenix enjoyed frequent car rides, trips to Home Depot and pet friendly restaurants. Many friends and family were praying for him and the energy was palpable. Our entire household felt protected by a legion of angels.
As the days went on, Phoenix became increasingly tired and was losing weight (despite an excellent appetite) while slowly adjusting to the rapidly growing mass in his mouth. We thanked him every day for the gift of his beautiful spirit, and he returned the sentiment through his soulful eyes filled with gratitude. Every couple weeks we checked in with Dr. Dunn who was quite impressed with Phoenix’s good spirits despite the advancement of cancer. We continued with our routine and counted each day that Phoenix chose to stay with us a blessing.
On December 30 Phoenix awoke with swelling around his eye, as the tumor had grown so large and was causing pressure. When, for the first time in two months, he didn’t finish his gourmet breakfast, we knew by the look in his eyes that he was ready to leave his tired body. We made an appointment with Dr. Dunn for that afternoon with a knowing that this would be his day.
Daashia and I took him to the beach for a final time and walked together along the shoreline, our hearts and steps in sync. The water was rough and he had no interest in swimming. We then gave him a good bath which not only felt good to him, but honored his desire to always be clean and handsome as ever. For the next hour we laid with him on the floor under the dining room table - one of his favorite places. We fed him his favorite snack of cheese while sharing stories of our adventures together. Our hearts were overflowing with love yet felt so heavy at the same time.
When we arrived at our appointment Phoenix put his nose in the corner of the exam room avoiding looking at Dr. Dunn, as if to say, ‘let’s not discuss this, let’s just do it’. Knowing Phoenix for so long Dr. Dunn agreed that yes, he was ready. We sat on the floor with him for the procedure and cocooned him in love and light. Within seconds Phoenix passed peacefully in Daashia’s arms.
Though we miss Phoenix terribly and his magnificent presence, we know his spirit remains with us. Looking back I know everything was in divine and perfect order, and we wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Realizing that healing isn't always about curing, but providing a safe, soft place for our pets during the last chapter of their lives is very consoling. Seeing dying as a normal process, as animals do, is an opportunity for growth. Allowing our deserving companions to live as fully and comfortably as possible is one of the most compassionate ways we can give back to them.
For more information about The International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative care, or to find hospice service providers in your area, please visit www.iaahpc.org
Karen Thomas, R.N., is a Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) Practitioner in the Florida Keys. Healing Touch for Animals is a holistic approach influencing the health and well-being of animals through energy and intention. HTA techniques restore harmony and balance to the energy system while providing physical, emotional, mental and instinctual stability, thus supporting the body to self-heal. This work can be done in person or distantly. Karen can be contacted through her website www.pawsitivetouch.org or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Angela J. Willard (Richards)
When Hazel Smith decided to bring a friendly special needs Chihuahua into her home, she never imagined how he would change her life.
A retired police officer, Hazel suffered from agoraphobia where even going outside to cut her grass was challenging. She was on several medications to help manage the symptoms of agoraphobia. She was a prisoner in her own home.
During this season of her life, her elderly Dalmatian "Binky” crossed over the rainbow bridge. The loss sent Hazel in search for a new companion. Hazel checked ads, visited humane societies and SPCAs in search for a new dog.
“One day when my husband and I were out looking we came across ‘Gunny’ a Dogue de Bordeaux. and we adopted him for my husband.”
Then finally Hazel came across an ad on Craigslist. A military family was being relocated and needed to rehome their 1½ year-old Chihuahua, “Hercules”.
“I called immediately,” explained Hazel. “I told the lady I would be out to get him when my husband got home from work. She said if he was still there I could come get him. Worried someone else might get him I told her to hold him for me and that I was on the way. I called my best friend and told her I needed her to take me to get him. When we arrived I fell in love with him right off.”
Hazel claimed the five-pound Chihuahua as her own and renamed him “Hooch”. “I thought it would be funny since we had a Dogue De Bordeaux”.
Hazel soon learned the meaning of the term “Velcro dog” but Hooch had very good reason to not want to leave Hazel’s side. Hooch is deaf.
Because Hooch wanted to be carried all the time, this made it difficult for Hazel to get things done around the house. “I tried carriers on the market for pets and babies, nothing worked for both of us.”
In her desperation to be able to be hands-free and still care for Hooch with his special needs, she decided to create a solution to her problem. “One day I picked up a canvas [remnant] that I had left over, and the Dog-On Bag hands-free pet carrier was born.”
With her new invention, Hazel and Hooch were able to not only get things done around the house, but leave the house as well. “When I had Hooch with me I discovered I could venture outside, away from home and even on short trips to a friend’s beach cottage, ALONE.”
This was a huge accomplishment for Hazel who could barely be in her own yard without anxiety setting in.
Every day Hooch and Hazel would go out for a bike rides and people would ask about her homemade Hooch carrier. She decided to venture out even more and make more carriers in different designs and then set up a table at a local Bark in the Park event. By the end of the day she had nearly sold out of her Dog-On Bags. A business was born.
Now, Hazel and Hooch have an in-home business, a website, and several retailers carry the Dog-On Bag. She has even expanded the reach of the Dog-On Bag as far as Italy. Her new-found strength and courage even set her on stage to audition for Shark Tank in seeking help for her business.
“Because of Hooch, I went from being medicated and scared to leave home, to no more medication for agoraphobia and panic attacks, and standing up at pet expos in crowds, and even auditioning for Shark Tank. Hooch saved me, gave me my life back, and more.”
By Angela J. Willard (Richards)
for Paradise Pets Magazine, Key West, FL
Many pet owners are not pet “owners” at all, we are pet parents and our pets tend to own us. When my children were teenagers, I saw less and less of them and became increasingly attached to our family pets, Joey (a Chihuahua mix) and DJ (our long haired Dachshund). As a mom, I wasn’t ready for my children to need me less and I became a “mom” to our dogs. Laugh all you want, but I know I am not the only one who loves our pets like children.
Several years ago our family moved to Florida, and during the planning I could not bear the thought of leaving our fur babies behind. So, we paid astronomical fees to prepare them for travel and flew them across the country with us. Sometimes I wonder if we did the right thing by taking them out of their environment in Ketchikan, Alaska and moving them to unknown territory in Key West, Florida.
While in Florida, Joey and DJ enjoyed fun in the sun, playing at the beaches, and chasing iguanas. We had to protect their nosey noses from trouble with snakes and scorpions—and other things we don’t have to worry about in Alaska. At one time, DJ had gotten stuck under our deck in the back yard, and my son, Chris, had to climb under and drag him out because he was unable to move—he had been paralyzed by a Cane Toad (of all things). With many prayers and healing touches, DJ escaped death by the toad and lived on to run around enjoying fun in the Florida sun. We, being Alaskans, were unprepared for the dangers that our beloved fur babies would be faced with in such a different climate.
Within a year of moving to Florida, we were faced with housing challenges, like many in Key West are, and had to make the difficult decision to adopt our pets out to new pet parents who were able to provide a stable home for DJ and Joey. That decision was a painful one, but also an inescapable one. We had no other choice.
The people who graciously accepted our fur babies into their lives, made it very clear that at any time we were able to have them again, they were more than willing to foster them for us. But that time did not come. It has been a couple years now since we had to say goodbye to our beloved pets, and now we are back in Alaska. As I look back, I see that I should have left them in their home environment in Ketchikan, rather than selfishly taking them across the country where DJ almost lost his life, and where we ended up losing them completely.
If we had adopted them out before we moved, they would have been well cared for in a loving home with no snakes, scorpions or poisonous frogs to deal with. And they would have most likely still been in our home town of Ketchikan when we returned and we would be able to see them once again.
Even though a piece of my heart went with DJ, and most especially Joey (my baby), I always have the peace in knowing that the people who adopted them were a perfect fit.
I will never forget seeing DJ run and play with his new Dachshund siblings, having the time of his life at the home of his new “Dad”, or seeing Joey in the arms of his new loving mama at the Kmart in Key West. I could see on her face that, like me, she couldn’t bear the thought of losing him, and I had to completely let him go. It was the best thing for us all.
In the past year I have traveled through many states, from Florida to Montana and then back home to Alaska. This was not planned, like many things in life, and I would have had a very difficult time traveling with even just Joey in my arms. Adopting him out to a stable home was the best thing for him, even though for me it was heart wrenching.
I may have been late in making the difficult decision to adopt out our family pets, my beloved fur babies, but in all things, God works all things out for the good.
This article was originally published in the Jan-March issue of Paradise Pets Magazine, Key West, FL
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Paradise Pets Magazine