Crowds, long lines, delays, lost luggage: Navigating a busy airport can be stressful in the best of circumstances—and it’s even worse during the busy holiday season. Luckily, at a number of airports nationwide, you can now find various animals on hand to reduce stress and anxiety, boost happiness—and, in some cases, even keep us safer.
At my local airport SFO, LiLou the pig greets weary travelers and calms nerves by offering snorts and selfies. She’s just one of about 300 therapy animals (including dogs, cats and rabbits) taking part in the airport’s SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy Program. But LiLou is special not just because of her adorable costumes and painted hooves, but also because she is the very first pig greeter!
Last Friday, February 5, was the inaugural World Animal Reiki Day—and let me tell you, the day was such a huge global success! Thank you to everyone around the world who participated. The day would not have been a success without your involvement and support.
One of the many ways we celebrated was through the World’s Most Adorable Reiki Animal photo contest. Out of 35 entries, the winning photo (pictured above), which received the most likes on Facebook (135), was of a very special (and absolutely adorable) rescue dog named Eva.
Eva’s human is Jenny Hughes, a student of mine who took Reiki 3 at Animal Haven in New York City. As reported in this Dogster article, Eva was found abandoned in Philadelphia, tied to a post and left to die. She was more than 20 pounds underweight and not expected to live much longer. But the Pennsylvania SPCA offered her up as a hospice foster, and that’s how she met Jenny. As Jenny says, “That was almost 2 years ago and we have since adopted Miss Eva! Reiki has been part of our regular interactions and an important part of her healing journey from 68 pounds to close to 100 pounds now. It’s a wonderful bonding time for us and Reiki has served to calm Eva in times where her arthritis was acting up or simply to help her sleep soundly. Eva teaches me everyday how to live life to its fullest and always wear a smiley ! I look forward to many more years of sharing Reiki with this brave warrior!”
Eva has her own Facebook page; you can follow her journey here. Big congrats to Jenny and Eva for winning; she will be receiving all three of my books, as well as a complimentary distant animal Reiki treatment (a $100 value). Thanks again to all who entered!
I’m not really big on New Year’s resolutions, but I appreciate this idea of letting your animals guide you toward healthier, happier living. What better time than in January, when we’re all ready for a fresh start?
Here are five ways our beloved animal companions (especially dogs) can help us achieve our goals in 2015:
1. Live healthy every day: Walking your dog every single day (or even twice a day!) is an easy and fun way to add aerobic fitness to your routine without even realizing it. (Those of you with dogs know what I mean.) And if you’ve always wanted a dog but haven’t yet adopted one, a loyal and enthusiastic (albeit furry) walking partner could be just the motivational boost you’re looking for. In fact, according to the University of Western Australia, new dog owners walked an additional 48 minutes per week. For more on the amazing health benefits of walking your dog, check out this article.
2. Widen your social circle: Take your dog for regular walks around your neighborhood, and suddenly you meet neighbors you haven’t seen before. Take her to play on the beach or at a dog park, and you just might make new friends (and your dog can have a playdate, too). Let him join you when you travel, and you’ll discover dog-friendly gems like Carmel or Laguna Beach, California, which welcome leashed dogs in many hotels, stores and even some restaurants (on the patio).
3. Try new things: Whether it’s walking a new trail in the redwoods, biking, camping or even trying a fun water sport like kayaking or boating, most dogs are always up for adventure! Both of you will get to experience something new, and that alone can be super rejuvenating.
4. Advocate for animals: Sometimes it can be hard to find your voice or the time to really “live for” the causes and issues you believe in. Let your love for animals inspire you. If you witness cats, horses, dogs or other helpless creatures being neglected or mistreated (like stuck inside a hot car or in other terrible conditions), let the authorities know. If a specific area of concern interests you, such as the plight of feral cats or hoarding, find a local organization supporting that cause and see if their volunteer program is a good fit. You could even start a blog, use social media and fundraise to spread the word about the animal welfare issues you’re passionate about.
5. Give back a little bit more: You don’t need a lot of extra money to give back in small ways. “Shop for a Cause” programs like AmazonSmile, GoodSearch, iGive and Living Zoe let you shop for things you would buy anyway; they donate a percentage of the purchase back to the charity of your choice. Not sure which charity to choose? My favorite would have to be … the Shelter Animal Rescue Association, or SARA, which I founded with Leah D’Ambrosio to support animal Reiki programs at shelters and sanctuaries worldwide. You can find us on AmazonSmile, iGive and Living Zoe.
What are your New Year’s resolutions?