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World Animal Reiki Day: The inspiration and meaning behind WARD


dakota prasad an aussie shepard mix in his golden years stands on a beach in california looking up

This year's World Animal Reiki Day (2024) is extra special because it also marks the 20th Anniversary of when I started Animal Reiki Source! 20 years of helping animals all over the world heal and teaches others to help them too!


I'm also hosting a FREE 21-Day Animal Reiki Meditation Challenge that is open to everyone, worldwide, and consists of one 5-minute meditation each day that focuses on one type of animal and its symbolism and energy. Please join us if you can!


How World Animal Reiki Day got Started

In 2016, I organized and launched World Animal Reiki Day (WARD) with the help of volunteer members of my Non-profit Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA). WARD is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to help create a better future for the animals in our world. 


I believe that animals are wise and sentient spiritual beings who deserve our respect and kindness. In fact, this is the message at the foundation of all the Let Animals Lead® method teachings I've created in the last 20+ years and a big part of the inspiration behind this annual worldwide event and celebration meant to honor animals as teachers and healers.


We celebrate WARD to remind us all that we have a choice to treat animals with loving and compassionate kindness, and a choice to give animals agency in their healing, especially when we are being Reiki with them.


The Dog Who Inspired World Animal Reiki Day: Dakota Prasad


dakota prasad as a puppy an aussie cross who inspired kathleen prasad to start world animal reiki day

I chose February 5th for World Animal Reiki Day because it was our dog, Dakota's birthday, and he was the other big part of the inspiration behind creating and launching WARD back in 2016.


I rescued Dakota as a puppy from animal control and he grew up to be a true “old soul” who led me on my journey into holistic healing and Reiki teaching. Beyond being a faithful, loving companion, Dakota was also the dog who gave me my start in sharing Reiki with animals and he ended up being my greatest teacher.


“In their innocence and wisdom, in their connection to the earth and its most ancient rhythms, animals show us a way back to a home they have never left.”
― Susan Chernak McElroy

When Dakota was still with us (he passed away in 2007), I was still early on in my Reiki practice and hadn't really put together how beneficial Reiki is for animals. Back then, I was spending a lot of time giving Reiki to myself and my friends and family, but wasn't even thinking about sharing Reiki with animals.


But Dakota changed all that.


One day while I was in the middle of giving myself a Reiki treatment, Dakota came over and laid on my feet. I didn't think anything of it at the time. Soon it became a regular thing—I would start a Reiki session (either on myself or someone else) and he would show up, either wanting to be touching me or laying close by. And then, one day, the pattern of it and the energy of it just clicked into place for me and gave me the AHA moment that prompted me to start offering Reiki to animals regularly.


That was the day I became the godmother of the Animal Reiki movement and I've never looked back.


NOBODY was offering Animal Reiki back then and, when I started to offer it as part of my practice, Dakota continued to be my teacher and guide. He was the animal who taught me to let him lead the Reiki session and to let go of the idea of needing to use my hands to "beam" Reiki at him. He taught me that it was more important to focus inward and create a space of healing to invite animals into, rather than set an intention to beam healing at them. This is why my Let Animals Lead® method is so different from other types of Animal Reiki!

In his time here on earth, Dakota showed me the path I needed to take with Animal Reiki by responding to me while I was (back then) doing Reiki. It was the way he responded that really made me understand how important it is to give animals agency when inviting them into a healing Reiki space and, because of all his responses, he led me down the path to being Reiki and the precepts and practices I now teach and use with my method of Animal Reiki. My Let Animals Lead® method is completely animal led and allows every animal the choice to step into a healing space (or not) in whatever way feels best and most comfortable for them.


Creating a day to honour all animals was the most beautiful way I could think of to honor Dakota's lingering legacy in our lives and all the lessons he taught me in the 16.5 years we had together.


kathleen prasad offers animal reiki to her elderly dog dakota in the sunshine on her back lawn in california

To summarize, Dakota showed me that:

  • animals enjoy Reiki and benefit very much from the peace and healing space it creates

  • animals sense the space when we practice (even without physical touch or our intent to share it with them) and

  • animals know how to step into the Reiki space, for whatever they need, at their own comfort level.

Admittedly, it took many years for me to internalize these lessons enough that I could let go of human protocol and trust animals to lead the Reiki sessions I shared with them, but Dakota was the very first who led the way!


How We're Celebrating World Animal Reiki Day 2024


This year, we are celebrating WARD in two ways:

  1. My non-profit, SARA, is hosting a Zoom get together on February 4th from 10 AM to 11:30 AM PDT where we will be sharing stories of our animal teachers and ways we honor them, as well as doing a reading of the World Animal Reiki Day prayer for people all around the world to hear and participate in. What an amazing way to pay homage to Dakota and all the animals out there who teach us lessons and help us grow and deepen our connections to them! We hope you'll join us for this free and fun event!

  2. I'll be hosting a free 21-Day Meditation Challenge (based on my interactive 21-Day Let Animals Lead® Meditation Journal) with one short, animal-based meditation per day for 21 days, kicking off February 5th on World Animal Reiki Day! Join us for this free, worldwide Animal Reiki Meditation Challenge!


Here are some past ways we've honored animals during previous World Animal Reiki Day Celebrations:


Charlie's Acres Farm WARD in Sonoma, CA



Remembering the animals we've lost and a meditation for WARD with SARA teacher, Joan O'Connor at Charlies Acres Farm Sanctuary.



A special meditation for World Animal Reiki Day with Let Animals Lead® Certified Teacher, Wendee Walker at Charlie's Acres Farm Sanctuary



A Meditation with Reiki Sisters in Celebration of World Animal Reiki Day:




For WARD 2021 Celebrations:


As a special gift for my beloved animal community around the world, in 2021 we celebrated WARD with a special healing circle for the animals of the world, followed by a virtual, healing Reiju for all participants, led my myself. By performing Reiju, we create a sacred space of Oneness, where teacher and student are together in the light of the universe. In this light, there is no separateness, no giver and no receiver. By creating this sacred space, we will realize that in the light of the universe, there is nothing to do, nothing to give—only being together. By opening to this sacred space, we can more easily experience our own connection to Source and dive deeply into the essence of our inner light of wisdom and compassion. In this light, all healing possibility exists. In this light, we remember our essence. This ritual is a very powerful way to energetically experience the inner heart of spiritual energy, or Reiki.


Here are some other ways to celebrate animals and World Animal Reiki Day this year:



a young aussie cross with short hair looks up smiling with his big blue eyes

Help unite the world Animal Reiki community by sharing your thoughts, messages and pictures of your celebration of World Animal Reiki Day 2024 all week long on the SARA Facebook page. For Twitter: #worldanimalreikiday2024 and #WARD2024 and tag SARA @SARA_news. For IG: #worldanimalreikiday2024 and #ward2024 and tag @shelteranimalreiki and @animalreikisource.


I'm so excited to honor Dakota's memory again this year by celebrating all animals with all of you! Our animals are so precious, and although they never live long enough, we can continue to honor the gifts and lessons they have brought us by paying it forward through sharing Reiki with animals who cross our paths and share our lives.


Enjoy this memorial video I created for Dakota and may the animals light your way.



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