Here are some sobering statistics for you: In companion animals, about 50 percent of all disease-related deaths are attributed to cancer. One in four dogs will develop cancer. And cancer strikes about 30 to 40 percent of all cats.
Some of you may be struggling with this issue right now. Know that you are not alone. In fact, May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness and funds in hopes of one day curing this terrible disease.
One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time. —Madeleine L’Engle
Humility, as a human character trait, is a virtue sorely lacking in the modern world. If human beings learned to practice humility more often, it would heal and elevate the place of animals in the world. We would realize that animals are not just products for us to use as we wish. We would realize that we, too, are animals. We would awaken the joy of service, to be a steward—rather than a consumer—on the planet.
Meditating on the Reiki precept “be humble” is a wonderful way to let go of the ego and honor animals in a deeper spiritual way. When we learn to be humble and see animals as our teachers, we can soften the edges that separate us from other species and remember that we are all connected. Sometimes we think—well, I am the human and my animal can’t possibly understand things as deeply as I can. What I have learned over the years is that animals actually understand connectedness even more deeply than we do.
I remember sitting with my dog Dakota, while he was in hospice from lung cancer, and feeling all my sadness and grief overwhelming me. This was a problem that all my human reasoning, actions and money could not solve. The more upset I became, the more agitated he was. The only time he could relax in peace was when I would let go of all my worries and just meditate. Through meditation, I could remember that we would always be connected by our hearts, no matter what happened. To be humble in the face of death required surrender to the flow and wisdom of the universe, and this was something my dog could model for me.
Because dogs and cats still live in the original state of connectedness with Being, they can help us regain it. —Eckhart Tolle
By practicing humility, we can become more open to receive the wisdom of our animals. We can become better listeners and contemplators, able to discern the subtle aspects of right action. If we take time to meditate with our animals, learning to just “be” with them—then we can cultivate a heart-to-heart connection that will nurture a deeper awareness of the Oneness of the universe.
This might seem at first something very difficult to understand—and, yes, if we are trying to understand it intellectually then it might seem impossible to grasp. But we just need to drop our minds into our hearts and it all becomes very simple. Because our animals inspire us to open our hearts and LOVE to our fullest, they are the best partners to us to help us to explore the deep wisdom of Oneness of all things. The Oneness of the heart.
Humility is a simple practice that can heal ourselves, our animals and the world.
How has your animal been your teacher?
How do you feel about raw food for your dog or cat? Before I became a raw pet food believer, I was a little unsure. You hear so many negative things about it in the media—that it’s expensive, difficult to prepare, dangerous to humans and animals due to the risk of salmonella and other pathogens, that a lot of vets don’t recommend it and so on. But then, my beloved dog Dakota entered his golden years, and a host of medical issues began to creep up. Could changing his diet help? I liked the idea of switching him to a minimally processed food and was willing to try almost anything to improve his quality of life.
With a little trepidation, we decided to try My Natural K9. I’m so glad we did! He loved it and did so well for his last three years—his coat was shiny, and his energy improved. I really believe the raw, grain-free diet had a lot to do with it. (If you’re new to the idea of raw pet food and need guidance, check out this article on how to make nutritious home-prepared dog food.)
Apparently, I’m not the only one with such a positive experience. In 2011 (the most recent year for which I can find figures), raw pet food sales totaled $100 million. And in 2013, U.S. sales of raw and refrigerated pet food grew a healthy 25 percent. It’s no wonder why: Users often report improved health in their animals and fewer allergies.
In 2012, Robert Mueller, vice president and raw pet food guru at BARF World, spoke at one of our SARA member meetings. (BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food; the company sells frozen raw meat patties, supplements and treats for dogs and cats.) He was wonderful and had so much to say about raw food diets.
Even BrightHaven, the holistic animal hospice where I teach my animal Reiki classes, feeds their cats and dogs a raw food diet using Feline Instincts. They’ve reported to me that people who are usually very allergic seem to do OK when visiting BrightHaven: amazing!
I’ve heard good things about these raw food brands as well: Nature’s Variety and Stella & Chewy’s; both use high-pressure technology to prevent bacterial contamination, in case you are concerned about that.
What about you? What are your thoughts and experiences regarding raw pet food?