What always restores my faith in humanity? When I see humans going out of their way—and sometimes even putting their own lives at risk—to help animals in need. Thanks to the heroic actions of these kindhearted individuals, the following creatures were saved from harm’s way in 2015. In case you missed these stories in the news last year, here are 12 of the most dramatic (and heartwarming) animal rescues from 2015:
1. Two dogs rescued from the rubble following a tornado
Two days after tornadoes devastated Texas right before Christmas, a family’s two dogs—a Golden Retriever and a Miniature Pinscher—were pulled from the rubble of their home, alive and miraculously without any broken bones.
2. Woman buys 100 dogs to save them from the dog meat festival
Every year in China, about 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for the annual dog meat festival, known as Yulin. This 65-year-old woman, an animal lover and shelter owner, was able to save $1,100 and drive 1,500 miles to buy 100 dogs, saving their lives and now giving them a second chance at life.
3. Dog rescued from icy waters
The U.S. Coast Guard saves lives—of both people and animals. Here’s the dramatic rescue of a dog that fell into icy waters in Michigan. The dog was later reported to be doing well while recovering at a local animal rescue.
4. Frozen kitten brought back to life
A family discovered a frozen kitten in the snow in their yard on Thanksgiving morning. They rushed into action—performing CPR and warming the kitten for over an hour.
5. 200-pound pig rescued from manhole
When the pig, named Rick Ross, fell into a 10-foot manhole, he was stuck for two days before firefighters were able to rescue him. Click here for dramatic video of the rescue.
6. Dramatic sheep rescue from a cliff in Wales
The rescuers from RSPCA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had to rappel down dangerous cliffs to bring the ewe to safety.
7. Donkey stuck in deep floodwaters surprises rescuers
When the donkey got stranded in floodwaters in Ireland, rescuers led by Animal Haven Animal Rescue were able to pull him to safety—and were rewarded with a huge smile!
8. Firefighters rescue kitten from storm drain
When Maren Swanson saw the amazing footage of a kitten rescued from a storm drain in Miami, she knew in her heart she just had to adopt the baby cat. So she flew to Miami to bring little Storm home. Here’s a heartwarming video of Storm’s long journey—from a storm drain in Miami to her new home in Los Angeles:
9. Horse pulled from well
When Daisy the horse got stuck in a deep well, a team of local rescuers, including a vet, spent more than two hours extricating her from the large hole in the ground. Luckily for Daisy, she escaped with no injuries. Click here for unbelievable video of the rescue.
10. Whale trapped in rope rescued
When a humpback whale became entangled in a lobster trap off the coast of California, a team of rescuers from SeaWorld hurried to save the creature, who would have died without help.
11. Dog rescued from fast-moving LA river
After the little brown dog was swept a mile downriver, a firefighter lowered from a cable attached to a helicopter rescued the little guy, who escaped without injury.
12. Motorcyclist stops traffic to save a kitten
You’ll sit on the edge of your seats watching this dramatic rescue! When a tiny kitten is seen running across lanes in the middle of a busy highway, this heroic woman on a motorcycle stops traffic and waves down cars until she can scoop up the little ball of fluff (which she named Skidmark) and take him to safety. (All caught on her GoPro.)
I have been honored to share Reiki with thousands of animals around the world. And through this work with animals—many of them in shelters—I’ve seen firsthand how Reiki always finds a way to heal the animal on some level, even if what needs healing isn’t readily apparent at the time. The following stories illustrate three powerful ways Reiki can help animals in need:
A story of physical healing
There was a kitten one day in the shelter where I was volunteering. He had been poisoned. His mother had somehow ingested poison, and then the babies had nursed, and so there were three kittens and the mom. By the time I got there, two of the kittens and the mom had already died, and there was this one kitten left, and he was in pretty bad shape. He was very listless and couldn’t open his eyes. He couldn’t stand up and was just lying there. The staff person said to me, “Well, we’re not sure he’s going to make it, but we want to give him a little time; can you sit and do Reiki?”
What is more powerful than being present with an open heart and compassion for another being?
So I sat outside the cage, and after several minutes, the kitten tried to open his eyes and tried to move his head, and he leaned forward, and I could see he saw, he knew. He could sense I was there because, of course, animals are much more sensitive than people, and he was asking for more healing. So I opened the cage door. I put my hands in. I cupped my hands around him and he leaned his little head on the side of my hand, and he was tiny enough that I could easily fit him just within my hands (and I have very small hands). He was just a teeny, tiny little thing. He curled right up and leaned his little head against me and slept.
After about 45 minutes, he woke up. I moved my hands away. He opened his eyes and looked right at me with his very bright eyes, meowed a teeny, little meow, stretched, and went over and drank water. Amazing, and with just one treatment of 45 minutes! It was literally as if he had come back from the brink of death, with nothing except Reiki.
What is more powerful than being present with an open heart and compassion for another being? Isn’t that the ultimate healing? And this is what we do as Reiki practitioners!
This is a beautiful example of how Reiki touches our most inner heart and spreads out in a beautiful ripple effect, and this is why we see these kinds of physical healings, as with the kitten. It is so beautiful to see.
A story of emotional healing
Another day at the shelter, they asked me to work with a dog who was very, very ill, but also had been severely abused and was basically shut down. If you’ve ever seen an animal like this, it’s where they are unresponsive; there’s just basically “nobody home.” He was lying in the back of the kennel, his head down. His eyes were open, but they were glazed over with no expression; he had absolutely no response to people walking through, or to all of the loud noise at the shelter. There were dogs barking next to him and jumping around, but he had absolutely no response. He was completely shut down emotionally.
Even he could not resist the beautiful power of love and compassion that is Reiki.
I sat outside his kennel and offered Reiki. For me, what this means is, it’s really about feeling the love, opening my heart, sitting in compassion and just inviting the animal to share that space. So I sat there for about 45 minutes to an hour. At that time, I had to move on. So I stood up and thanked the dog. I could hardly believe my eyes: As soon as I stood up and thanked him, he got up, too. He walked over wagging his tail. He walked up to the front of the kennel, rolled on his back and offered me his tummy, all the while wagging his tail. It was the most amazing transformation from just one treatment.
This healing didn’t happen because I was thinking I need to heal this and that problem. It wasn’t because I was directing energy to do this and that. It was because an open heart with compassion is the ultimate healer! It doesn’t matter how bad something is—Reiki can transform any condition. In essence, Reiki is really love and compassion, and thus it can reach any problem. So I always feel there is always hope, especially because of what I’ve seen over the years.
Reiki is so powerful, and yet it is completely noninvasive and very, very gentle.
A story of spiritual healing
Despite the beautiful things I have seen, I know that Reiki is not a cure-all. Just because you do Reiki doesn’t mean you will never get sick or that you won’t die. But over time I have come to realize that it’s the peacefulness of Reiki that is really what’s important.
In this sacred space, all things are possible.
There was a dog that came into the shelter one day, and the dog was very vicious and they were going to have to euthanize him. I happened to be there a few hours before that, offering Reiki, and the staff said to me, “Oh, can you at least sit with him? He’s very aggressive and nobody can really do anything with him. Maybe it will help somehow?”
I knew that this dog’s path had been decided and there was nothing I could do to change it, and yet with Reiki, I knew I could do something.
So I went and sat outside the kennel. I could see that this dog was very vicious and out of his mind with rage. I sat a bit away from the kennel and turned to the side so that I wasn’t making him feel even worse (although that would have been hard to do!). He was pacing and snarling. Every person or dog or movement that he saw, he would lunge, snapping and barking.
So I just closed my eyes, went inward, and created that Reiki space. I focused on the peace of Reiki, and just sat. I thought to myself, I’m just going to shine my light, and I hope it helps. I knew that was all I could do. After about 20 minutes, I opened one eye because I could tell things had quieted down. I was afraid to look because he was so sensitive to any movement or any eye contract at all, but I opened one eye just to glance at him. He had actually stopped pacing, stopped barking, stop growling. He was standing. He would not lie down, but he was standing, leaning against the side of the kennel. His head was down and bobbing up and down slightly because he was falling asleep standing up. Even he could not resist the beautiful power of love and compassion that is Reiki.
Even though he was euthanized later that day, I could feel that his spirit really received a beautiful peacefulness that he otherwise would not have felt in this lifetime. I feel that that was important for his journey. In fact, for each and every one of us, it is very, very important to have that peacefulness, even if it is only for a short time. Yes, perhaps the dog’s life here was ended, but this brief moment of rest for his body, mind and spirit was a profound gift.
It’s amazing to me that by simply relaxing, being quiet, breathing and having a heartfelt intention to help another being, you create a sacred space. In this space, all things are possible.
Do you have any powerful animal Reiki stories to share?
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years in animal shelters, so I know all about the misconceptions surrounding shelter animals. For instance: Many people think shelter animals are put there because of aggression or behavior problems. Wrong! According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the top two reasons for an animal to end up in a shelter are (1) moving/financial and (2) landlord issues. Here, I’d like to clear up some of the myths and point to my top five reasons why adopting from a shelter is the absolute best decision you can make:
1. You’re saving TWO lives: You save the life of the animal you bring home, plus you make room in the shelter for another animal to take their place. This is true even if you’re adopting from a no-kill shelter. The no-kill shelters save animals from the kill shelters whenever they can.
2. You have a better chance of knowing the animal’s personality: Animals in shelters sometimes live there for months or even years. That time gives the caregivers a good handle on the dog or cat’s personality: if they’re sociable, loving, shy and so on. When you buy a puppy at a breeder or a pet store, you truly don’t know what you’re getting until they grow up and their adult personality emerges. Shelters are also invested in helping the animals find forever homes, so there will be many opportunities for you to spend time with the animal before bringing them home for good. (I encourage my readers to please not support pet stores. You can read about puppy mills here.)
3. Shelters offer more options: What do you want, a puppy or a kitten? A calm dog that has outgrown the tiring puppy stage? A cat in her senior years? A purebred golden retriever? Whatever kind of furry family member you’re looking for, you can likely find the perfect fit at one of your local shelters. You’re not limited to just puppies or kittens. And, yes, plenty of purebreds end up in shelters, too. Next time you go for an adoption, keep this startling fact in mind: Black cats and dogs are most often overlooked in shelters, so give special consideration to these little cuties, which are more difficult to rehome.
4. Shelters save other animals, too: Maybe you’re not a dog or cat person; you’d rather save a rabbit, hamster, ferret or bird. Yes, cats and dogs make up the majority of available animals at the rescue—but don’t forget there are other critters, too!
5. It’s less expensive and a good value: Breeders charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single animal. When you adopt from a shelter, they’ve had a health checkup, their shots, may be spayed or neutered (or even microchipped!), come with a collar and ID tag, and sometimes they’re even potty trained.
I hear all the time that rescued pets make the best animal companions. Did you adopt from a shelter? I’d love to hear your story!
One of the best parts about adopting a new animal into the family is naming him or her! It’s so fun to play with words, read baby name books and even hit the web in search of the perfect fit. My youngest sis recently did just that: She and her husband welcomed home two eight-month-old sister kittens from the local shelter. They finally decided on two beautiful names: Tig (the alpha kitten, after the comedian Tig Notaro) and Quinn (they wanted a beautiful one-syllable Irish name).