5 WAYS TO GIVE BACK
In times of struggle, we rely on our companion animals to carry us through. During this pandemic we have all experienced a rollercoaster of emotions; from joy to sadness to fear and frustration. And our animals have been alongside us, supporting us every step of the way. They have not only lived out their life roles as our companions, they have chosen to be with us at this time in order to aim to take our pain away. Even though they cannot fully take our pain away at any given moment, they strive to be the kind of unique support for us that each and every one of us needs. They relentlessly give of themselves, selflessly so that we have even a moment of peace on our journeys.
Though there is a vast myriad of ways that we can give back to our animals, here are five easily attainable ways that we can give back the kind of love to our animals that they need in order to feel healthy and at peace as they live out the challenging task of taking care of us.
- SPECIES APPROPRIATE DIET– One of, of not the most important aspects of caring for our beloved companion animal friends is to ensure that they are well fed and adequately nourished. While some of us may be rolling our eyes out of certitude that we are indeed properly feeding our animals, we may want to think again. There are several main staples of knowledge of animal food that must go into every meal. Proper nutrition is an integral component in giving back to our animals. Ensuring that your animals are eating whole foods and not by-products, ingredients that you cannot pronounce or worse; ingredients that are labeled with buzzwords such as “powdered cellulose” (sawdust) or “corn gluten” (weed-killer). Choose foods that list whole foods such as “deboned chicken”, instead of “ocean fish” (the dregs of the ocean; i.e. the most polluted, non-specified fish in the ocean). Choose to research what your animals can and cannot digest. As an example, many cat parents are completely unaware that cats lack the digestive enzyme responsible for the breakdown of grains in the digestive system. This means that they are literally unable to digest grains. Most store-bought cat food is high in grains such as human grade cereal. What happens to our kitty friends when they eat the grains they cannot digest? They get metabolized as sugars and mess with their insulin levels, causing insulin spikes and troughs which very often leads to diabetes and obesity. Research a species appropriate diet. This is to say, research the types of diets that your animal friends ate as wild cats and dogs in nature. Research what their gastrointestinal systems thrive on and what will send them into ill health. Research why veterinary recommended brands cause more harm than good to your animal’s health because of their mainly preservative filled ingredient list. Read as much quality information as you can about what is healthy for your cats and dogs. Do not blindly trust your vet or food brand company. Look into where your food was sourced; the distance it had to travel to get to your store, the nutrient quality of the food, what whole foods are and any other information you can find from a credible source. By feeding our companion animals nutritious diets, they will be more resilient in times of stress, building up resistance to it; stopping illness from penetrating their immune systems. Healthy eating means a longer life and a better quality of life.
- ENSURING OUR HOMES ARE AS QUIET AS POSSIBLE– Though the struggle of parents with young children during the Covid-19 pandemic is very real, we must also pay close attention to how our home environments are affecting our companion animals. Of course it is next to impossible to expect our young children to sit still and be quiet at this time; especially when they are stuck at home with no school, no recess and inadequate physical activity. That said, animals are extremely noise sensitive. They are also fearful of the unpredictable behaviours of children. It is extremely valuable, when planning out our days at home to be mindful of how our household noise will impact the health and well being of our animal friends. While this is a touchy subject and not meant to place additional pressure on parents, it is meant to invoke the concepts of understanding the animal’s perspective of the pandemic. At this time, allowing our companion animals a “time out” by putting them in a bedroom or den behind a closed door for an hour or two per day will allow them a safe zone where they will not feel overwhelmed by loud children or by children who climb on them, and pull their ears and tail. Moreover, if you do have children who are unable to respect the boundaries of your animals and do pull their ears and tail. Do not be surprised if your animal defends himself by lashing out with a bite or scratch. THIS IS HOW ANIMALS COMMUNICATE BOUNDARIES. Please do everyone in your household a favour and teach your children to respect the boundaries of your animals. By giving your animals a time out for an hour or two per day behind closed doors, you are allowing your animals a short time to relax in peace and harmony.
- ENSURING OUR HOMES ARE CLEAN & TIDY– Naturally speaking, companion animals are very clean beings. Let us remember that we share our homes with them. They are unable to clean up after themselves. More to the point, they are unable to clean up after us. Companion animals find dirty environments to be very uncomfortable. Dirt and clutter can seriously impede a companion animal’s sense of inner peace. Additionally, many companion animals develop allergies and other respiratory issues that stem from dusty, bacteria ridden and mouldy homes. It is their role to care for us; to keep our emotional, mental and spiritual balance and it is our role to keep their homes clean and tidy. Though regular cleaning of our homes can become labour intensive, remember you’re not doing it for you, you’re doing it for your best friend and emotional support system.
- ENERGY WORK– For many reasons, energy work is a MUST at this time. In addition to its well-known promotion of relaxation and inner peace, energy work such as Reiki provides an outlet for animals’ stress. Animals are highly spiritual beings. They are also very physical beings. Particularly in homes where during this pandemic we have limited outdoor access, it is crucial to provide our companion animals with an outlet for their stress. Because companion animals feel that it is their role to remove our stress in every way shape and form, we must acknowledge the reality that they can and do easily fall into illness. When animals become stressed and overworked as a result of their home lives, they will harness the stress within their small bodies. Ordinarily, activities such as exercise will allow the animal mostly adequate release of this stressful energy. However, in times like these we have limited access to the regular forms of exercise in which we engage with our animals. In times like these when we are infinitely more stressed out than usual, bearing in mind that our animals are like little energy sponges and absorb the stresses of their people and environments, it is vital to the health of our companion animals that we create regular intervals of experience where our animals are able to release their stresses. Should we choose to ignore the stresses of our companion animals, what will happen to them? Simply put, their bodies will react exactly the same way as ours would under repeated and prolonged exposure to stress. Their bodies will eventually give in to the toxic energies and fall into poor health and eventually disease. Engaging in regular energy work such as Reiki is an ideal way to promote the release of pent up stress from within our companion animals, especially when exercise and long trips outdoors are not an option. Energy healing allows for the stable peace of mind and inner harmony that comes along with removing the pockets of ill (stress) energy from the energy field and body of your companion animal before it becomes detrimental to your animal’s health. If you are not practiced at energy work with animals on your own, connecting with a professional animal energy worker is helpful, even if she/he is unable to come to your home. The professional energy worker should be well versed at the art of distance-energy work and will be able to discuss with you the benefits of energy healing from a distance.
- TELL THEM HOW YOU’RE FEELING– By keeping our animals informed about how they are healing our hearts and souls, they will feel like they are a valuable presence in our lives. Sure, we know they are but how often do we tell them? True, most companion animals do not understand most human language. However we must not underestimate their ability to understand the energy behind our words. In the companion animal mind, it is their role to keep us balanced and joyful. If they are unable to do this, they feel as though they are not doing their job. By telling our animals how much we appreciate them, by telling them how much we love them and that they ARE helping us to feel better, they will feel that there are doing a job well done! Of course they are here to listen to us when we are feeling down, and we can tell them this as well. We may even be surprised at their reaction when we do tell them we are feeling sad!
These are five of many ways that we can give back to our animals during this pandemic and at any other given time. All our animals want to do is to love us. Though they will never ask us for anything in return (except for maybe food!), we can be continuously inspired by their generosity of spirit and give them the kind of love and respect that they deserve.
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