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Wagasana, greeting the day

 with gratefulness and curiosity!

Have you had a doga moment today?



"Everyone has a doctor within him or her; we just have to help it in its work.

The natural healing force within each of of us is the greatest force in getting well." ~ Hippocrates

Reiki and Healing Energy:  When I visit hospitals with my therapy dogs, it is becoming more common to see a Reiki Practitioner soothing cancer patients ... alongside someone offering Reflexology (foot massage). Reiki is being used with dogs in shelters, veterinary hospitals and alternative healing practices. With experience, Reiki can be effective for long-distance healing.

Energy is powerful! We are bathing in it everyday. The universe (and mother Earth) is made of energy. Without it, we wouldn't exist. There are many therapies that offer healing touch (
TTouch, Quantum Touch, Polarity Therapy, Massage, Acupressure, etc). They all offer the recipient an opportunity to receive help in balancing energy, enhance healing and reduce stress.

I have been the receiver and giver of healing touch, and know the power of long-distance well-being. I have witnessed the benefits on dogs and horses by using hands-on (or off) energy balancing. Using healing touch of my own that combines acupressure, massage and stretching to desensitize puppies or fearful dogs, and balance energy in my dog pack, I know that it works.

As a behaviorist, desensitization and modification, along with Reiki can improve the relational bond between human and dog. It helps to ease the transition for new puppies leaving their familiar mom and littermates. It can help dogs and people overcome traumatic life transitions.

I do not advocate the use of Reiki as the "sole" predictor of behavior modification outcomes, especially with dogs. Anyone working with dogs needs to be tuned into self first, and then to canine body language. It is important to know the difference between chronic and acute behavior and illness, especially if you are working with dogs that you are not familiar with. Used alone, Reiki can make a difference. Used in combination with training and behavior modification, and with your Health Care Professionals, it is an empowering adjunct therapy.

It is important to understand that healing energy does not come from the healer. It flows through the healer, as a conduit, just as medication may flow through an IV or syringe. Waves naturally flow into sand and back again. The skill of the healer to be aware, cantered and know how to shield themselves is essential. We would become exhausted if we took our own vital energy to offer healing, and/or, inadvertently transferred our stress to the dog. If we are stressed and imbalanced, we do not want to make a dog feel worse. When dogs (or people) are calm, they learn and recover more quickly. I look at it as a gift, and a skill, that we need to use with integrity and in collaboration with the individual cause!

The Reiki technique was developed in Japan in 1920. It was brought to the US in 1937 by Hawayo Takata and has gradually gained in popularity. A study done in 2007 by the National Health Interview Survey indicates that 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children received one or more sessions of energy healing therapy such as Reiki in the previous year. According to the American Hospital Association, in 2007, 15% or over 800 American hospitals offered Reiki as part of hospital services. A student can learn to give Reiki sessions during a weekend class, although advanced skills require additional training. Again, even more advanced training is needed to work with dogs, who are a different species. Their body language and cues for level of tolerance may be harder to discern, if one does not know what they are seeing. A person may be able to tell us, a dog may look away, lick, or get up and walk away. A missed cluster of cues (lip flicking, eyes and hackles raised, tail tucked, hard eyes) may get the healer -- needing healing (a bite).

The popularity of Reiki in hospitals has been largely driven by requests from patients, nurses and doctors who have experienced its value. They report that Reiki reduces stress, decreases the amount of pain medication required, improves sleep and appetite, and accelerates the healing process. It has been reported to reduce many of the unwanted side effects of radiation and drugs, including chemotherapy. This is true for dogs as well.

Reiki is a technique for stress reduction and energy balancing that gives the body an opportunity to heal. During a session with a dog, the practitioner’s hands are placed near or lightly touching various parts of the body, including areas around the head, shoulders, stomach, legs, and paws. Most (human) patients report feelings of relaxation, and often fall asleep during a session. Most dogs do too, but tell the practitioner by resting comfortably, accepting more touch and oftentimes, falling asleep. Sessions can last from ten minutes to an hour, depending upon available time, and the acceptance of the receiver.

All dogs, whether shelter dogs or dogs in happy homes, can benefit from the healing aspects of Reiki from a distance or hands-on when appropriate. For healthy dogs, Reiki can help maintain energetic balance and promote health and well-being. For dogs suffering from illness, injury and stress, either physical or mental, Reiki is a powerful complement to conventional and alternative healing methods. For dying animals, Reiki gives them gentle, loving support in this process, an energy to help them let go and move on.

For a person who has a dog, works with dogs, or volunteers at a shelter, Reiki is a wonderful healing tool to help create relaxation and lessen fear. Again, I caution anyone who is working with dogs they do not know, to be aware, and remain safe. It is okay to sit away from a dog, at a shelter, in front of their kennel, to get to know them first. Dogs WILL TELL you when they want or do not want to receive healing energy. In some cases, it can frighten them, and make matters worse.

Embrace the slow and easy approach. Gathering information about the dog first is the number one step. If you cannot gather the information, then you need to take time to prepare yourself first, centering, grounding and shielding before moving forward.

To learn more about Reiki with animals, find a Reiki Master near you.  

An example of a Reiki Healing Session is as follows:

Prepare yourself and the environment:  Center, ground and shield yourself.  

Recommended Readings and Sites:
Reiki Masters
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
International Association of Reiki Professionals
Bancroft School of Massage
Energy Healing for Dogs by Nicole Wilde, RM, CPDT