Could A Dog Improve
Your Spiritual Health?
By Allen and Linda Anderson
Studies have shown recently that living with an animal companion improves a person's physical health and well being. Having a pet can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and release endorphins. Many people also believe that connecting with animals improves their spiritual health. Animals with their seemingly boundless capacity to offer spiritual qualities such as unconditional love, gratitude, patience, and joy, are what we call "angel animals." They bring us the angelic message that we're loved and miracles are possible.
Nancy Hanley, from Walpole, New Hampshire, wrote the following story, published in the Angel AnimalsŪ Newsletter. In it she shares her experience with an "angel animal" named Missy, a fifteen-pound dachshund who she calls "an integral part of my healing process". After Nancy was separated from her former husband, an eleven-week-old, five-pound bundle of joy, Missy, entered Nancy's life.
Missy helped Nancy to heal physically. Nancy used to suffer with migraine headaches. When she couldn't tolerate light, noise, or even thinking, Missy would cuddle up on the couch and lick Nancy's tears as if to say, "It'll be all right, Mom. Just you wait and see." Having Missy on Nancy' chest allowed her to hear the dog's heart beating so strongly that it reminded her to do some deep breathing. Oxygenating the blood vessels in Nancy's head was a very important step toward relieving pain and healing from her headaches. Eventually, Nancy would fall asleep and feel better when she awoke.
A year and a half ago Nancy was diagnosed with a severe case of Candida which caused her to be out of work for weeks. Through extremely high fevers and other traumatic physical symptoms, Missy comforted Nancy with what she calls the dog's "endless dance of joy," always putting a smile on Nancy's face no matter how bad she felt. Nancy writes, "Missy's companionship during those many rough days was such a comfort. I'd often talk with her and know deep within myself that she understood everything."
Missy and Nancy Learned to Communicate Spiritually
Nancy says that over the years of sharing her life with Missy, she and the dog developed an ability to communicate spiritually, "soul-to-soul." She says, "I've worked diligently to increase my intuitive perception so I can receive feelings from Missy and know when she's in pain or needs to go for a walk. She's very good at getting my attention. She looks straight into my eyes to let me know what she needs and usually I understand."
Then, one day, it was Nancy's turn to help Missy heal.
A dog almost ten times Missy's weight attacked her. While Missy had to undergo surgery for the puncture wound in her neck and a torn ear, Nancy was the one who needed comforting. The shock of such a vicious attack on her precious friend was almost too much for Nancy to handle. But Missy was brave and she trusted Nancy to do the right thing with her.
Nancy hated leaving Missy at the clinic, but the vet reassured her that the dog would be fine. He cleared his waiting room full of two- and four-legged patients and rescheduled all his appointments so he could focus his attention on Missy and her injuries.
As Nancy held Missy in her arms on the examining table, she prayed for her quick recovery. She sent Missy all the healing energy she could muster from deep within herself. She begged for assistance from all angels in the universe and for the help of Spirit to guide them that day and following the surgery. Nancy writes, "I wasn't ready to say 'good-bye' to Missy so soon. We'd only been together a little over two years. Most of all, I couldn't bear the thought of losing my best friend."
Missy sat on the examining table looking frightened. She bled while the vet examined her, but the whole time, the dog licked Nancy's face over and over again. Nancy writes, "I could hear her saying, 'Mom, I'll be fine. You can go home now. The doc will take good care of me. I promise I'll be okay!'" Nancy was astonished to realize that it was Missy who was reassuring her. She says, "I vividly recall standing in the parking lot feeling overwhelmed with heartache while tears streamed down my face. I was numb all over, asking myself why and how could this be happening?"
Nancy had to keep a very important appointment that day and couldn't' reschedule it at the last minute, so she hurried away from the vet's office having little time to reflect. Before she left, her sister, Patti, offered to bring Missy home after the anesthesia wore off. While at her appointment Nancy could think of nothing but Missy's pain. She rushed home to find the dog a bit groggy but as happy to see her as ever. Missy's tail was wagging as well as it could. Nancy bent down to cuddle with Missy and the dog gave her little kisses which warmed her heart. What a trooper! That's my Missy Girl! Nancy thought.
The days that followed Missy's surgery were extremely hard for both the dog and Nancy. She hated to leave Missy to go to work. It was obvious that Missy was uncomfortable and in pain from the wounds and stitches. Because Nancy tended to be a bit squeamish, she had to dig deeper than ever before to find the courage and strength to clean the dog's wounds. Missy was incredibly understanding and Nancy's sister supported her when they needed help.
How Missy Helped Nancy Heal Spiritually
Nancy says that her relationship with Missy has helped her extend the doorway of awareness for herself and others. Missy, like all animals, truly lives in the moment and loves unconditionally. Nancy writes, "Whether I'm happy, sad, angry, or moody, her love for me is constant and consistency is a spiritual virtue I've needed to incorporate into daily living. Missy reminds me to be consistent in all my relationships, especially with myself."
Missy has also taught Nancy to trust, another big hurdle for her. In the seemingly endless search for her life partner, Missy taught Nancy that trust has a domino effect. When Missy trusts Nancy (i.e. carrying the dog down a flight of stairs without injury), Nancy realizes that she can, in turn, trust others (i.e., a possible spouse).
Missy has helped Nancy have faith in the power of prayer to help us heal. When Missy was attacked and seriously injured by the bigger dog, Nancy turned to her Higher Power for strength and encouragement. She and others prayed for help. A miraculous healing happened as a result of the love in their prayers. The vet who x-rayed Missy was astonished because he'd said she'd be unable to walk for six to eight weeks. Within two weeks Missy was running and jumping joyfully like her old self. Coping with Missy's injury deepened the relationship between Nancy and her Higher Self and gave her first-hand experience with the benefits of prayer.
Nancy writes, "Parents always say that children are our best teachers. I'm not the parent to a human child; my child is the canine type. Missy is paving the road to motherhood for me. She's helped me build inner strength." Nancy says that she's not nearly as squeamish now that she's tended to Missy's wounds. And she believes that she's always learning another important parenting skill from Missy - patience. Missy can wait endlessly until Nancy is ready to walk her if she's on an important, unexpected phone call. Nancy says, "I aspire to have her kind of patience, especially at work. She's taught me to take a deep breath and know that all is well."
Missy reminds Nancy that there's a Greater Plan for all of us. Nancy writes, "I believe that nothing in my life is a mistake. There are many lessons to learn every day if only I'll take the opportunity to see and reflect on what I'm becoming aware of; then I can reap the benefits of each experience. From my relationship with Missy, I have learned that Spirit would not give us anything we can't handle."
Missy and Nancy are becoming whole and healthier together. Nancy says, "Getting through pain is no longer the main focus of our relationship. My dear canine companion teaches me patience, compassion, trust, faith, and most of all, unconditional love. Thank you, Missy!"
Could you have made a spiritual agreement with an angel animal to help each other as friends along the way of life? What spiritual messages are furry, fuzzy, flowing, and flying creatures giving you?
Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of the Angel AnimalsŪ Newsletter. To subscribe to this bi-monthly publication filled with inspiring stories from around the world of how animals help people in amazing ways, call 1 (888) 925-3309. Their book, Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals is being published by Dutton-Plume in September 1999. Visit their web-site at www.angelanimals.com.
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