July, August, September 2010
By Caly Lehrer
As Animal Reiki Practitioners, we all know what amazing teachers our Animal Friends are. Most would think that humans pass teaching to the animals; we have all, however, shared many experiences where we were the ones actually being taught. I write this now to share one of the greatest lessons I ever learned from an abused and frightened, little boy named Randy.
Randy is no ordinary little boy; he is a whippet mix, who made his way to the state of New Jersey all the way from the streets of Puerto Rico. Randy is what’s known as a sato dog, which is slang for “street dog.” A sato dog isn’t a breed of dog; to the contrary, satos are usually a varying mix of breeds. Being deemed a sato dog is a way of life for thousands of dogs. Until Randy came into my life, I had never heard of the term “sato,” nor had I any clue as to what dogs endure on the streets of Puerto Rico. For many, Puerto Rico conjures up images of beautiful, sun-drenched days underneath a clear blue sky, sipping drinks by the beach, while catching up on some much needed “R&R.” Many people vacation and even honeymoon on this most beautiful island; some even refer to it as paradise. Through the eyes of a sato, however, things are far from paradise. Thousands of satos are literally left to roam the streets and beaches, as they fight for survival through yet another day. Not only do they need to scour for food and water, they also need to find shade and shelter from the very same scorching sun that relaxes vacationing tourists. And if it isn’t the sun, then there’s rain they seek shelter from. Left to wander the streets on their own, much like squirrels in the States, sato dogs don’t receive proper nutrition, socialization or medical care – and they’re certainly not spayed or neutered, which only adds to the growing number of dogs that need help.
It all started out as a typical Monday for me at St. Hubert’s in New Jersey. I checked with the Shelter Manager to see which dogs she wanted me to share Reiki with that day. I was told about a dog who just arrived from Puerto Rico and was having an extremely hard time acclimating. “Why don’t you work with Randy?” Initially, I wasn’t fazed by these words from the shelter manager; after all, I shared Reiki before with dogs that were having a hard time, and they almost always soaked the Reiki right up. As soon as I laid eyes on Randy though, I knew he was quite the exception. Randy was terrified of everything. He shook incessantly and was clearly afraid of his own shadow. Seeing his erratic behavior (Randy was like a pinball in a pinball machine), I remained very still and patient, as I began to send Reiki Randy’s way, while he dodged from underneath one metal folding chair to another, trying anything and everything to avoid the human in the room.
Eventually, I opted to focus on filling the room with Reiki, as Randy’s erratic dance was something I’d never before witnessed. Our first session together, seemed to make no difference at all. I felt I’d let Randy down. The following Monday, I was asked to work with Randy again. To get to Randy, I had to crawl underneath the receptionist’s desk and try to coax him out. Terror was the mask on this little guy’s face; he wanted nothing to do with me or anyone for that matter (yet everything told me to keep sharing Reiki). Somehow, I was finally able to gently gather Randy in my arms and take him to the room where we would work together. Week two seemed to be a repeat of week one. And so I continued to patiently work with Randy, week after week. Deemed unadoptable, my love for Randy began to grow; so much so, I decided to approach the Shelter Manager to see if I could adopt Randy. Just as I was approaching her, she was approaching me to see if I would consider fostering Randy, so I could work with him more frequently than once a week at the shelter. It was Randy’s last chance. So Randy came home with me that day and began to take up full time residence in my heart. Being in a home environment didn’t prove to be much safer for Randy…..he still shook, bolting from room-to-room, shaking all the time at everything. The fear this little guy was living with was often hard to watch; yet I wasn’t about to give up on him. Instead, watching and sensing all Randy was going through made me want to learn more about the satos; and so my research began.
I was horrified to read some of the things I saw as I searched the internet to learn more. I remember crying so hard one afternoon, as I read details about what this extraordinary little guy and his fellow satos go through; finally, I understood. As hard as it was to learn about the trials of life for sato dogs, knowledge was power. I learned even more and made contacts with a local shelter in Puerto Rico, Save-A-Sato. Then in November, 2009, I put out a fierce prayer to the Universe…”Allow me to go to Puerto Rico to help them, to serve.” Imagine my surprise when three days later, God answered that prayer by presenting me with the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico for that very purpose in January, 2010. I eagerly accepted, despite a lot of grave concern from family and friends. I had been warned by some that the potential for coming back with PTSD was very likely and that I really needed to prepare myself emotionally and spiritually for what I was about to embark upon. And so I did just that. I reached out to many of my teachers asking for help, guidance and direction on how to prepare for something like this. I remember the words from one of my teachers who travels to India a lot – he said, “You have to open your heart and let it ALL wash over you….welcome it ALL.” I held onto these words without really knowing what they meant; until, that is, I walked through the shelter door of Save-A-Sato for the first time.
In that moment, a moment I will always remember, it ALL washed over me. Being empathic, I felt all of the pain, grief, sorrow, turmoil and fear from hundreds of rescued dogs, as I walked through the shelter door. It nearly knocked me down. Slowly, I walked from cage-to-cage, trying to take it all in; snapping photographs, whispering words of love, silently praying to God for strength, while trying to stay deeply grounded to Mother Earth’s energy. After taking all of it in, it was time to serve. My thoughts turned to Randy and somewhere deep down inside, waves of courage and strength allowed me to forge ahead. Gloria, the President of Save-A-Sato, showed me which dogs were most in need. Without knowing what Reiki was, she asked me to focus on the same six or seven dogs all week….not to work on “all of them,” yet to regularly work on those same six or seven most in need. I felt a sense of relief, realizing that Gloria “got it.” As much as I wanted to help them all, it would be far better to focus on sharing Reiki with these same few dogs once a day, for the week that I was there. And that’s exactly what I did.
Each sato dog I worked with, taught me an invaluable lesson. Each needed to be worked with in a different way, inviting me to get quite creative; I shared Reiki in ways I never shared Reiki before. Each dog spoke of a different story – yet there was one common thread, all had lived in fear. Some were starting to step into confidence, while some were in the depths of pure heartbreak. One such pup had yet to be named; she had just arrived at the shelter a few days earlier. She was found tied up in a schoolyard, where it was believed she was left to watch her mom succumb to her death, as rocks were thrown at her. A baby pup, left to watch her mama die before her eyes. This dog shook incessantly – much like Randy. As I worked with her all week, I could sense the sweetness to this beautiful, yet ever so frightened soul, and I was given the honor of naming her Candy….the female version of my little Randy.
Throughout each day, I remained neutral, allowing Reiki to flow through me to each dog that I worked with. Yet by the end of the day, the emotion of it all gripped me. Every night, I would go to my hotel room and sob uncontrollably from the events of the day, knowing that in order to be the source of love and light these dogs most needed, I had to embrace what my teacher said, “Let it ALL wash through you.” Had I not done that, I wouldn’t be able to get up and be Reiki for these satos, the following day.
My work in Puerto Rico has only just begun. I am returning there soon, and will go back again, again and again. I have found my calling; I know where I am needed. The dogs of Puerto Rico have captured my heart. Since volunteering in January, almost every dog I worked with has found his/her forever home, somewhere in the United States. That alone has made this all worthwhile. As for Randy, he still has some challenges, yet he is now a happy, thriving and playful dog (and very receptive to Reiki). People in the dog park often stop to watch, as Randy prances through the field and plays with his canine friends. When Randy runs, it is like watching a deer, it’s poetry in motion. The best reward for me though, is watching Randy smile as we drive to the park every day; when we turn the corner, he excitedly stands up to full attention, his front paws raising him to a higher vantage point, as he peers to see which friends are already there. Randy is one extraordinary teacher, who has bravely led me on the path I was meant to follow. Thank you, Randy, for choosing me; I’m so very glad I listened.
About the Author: Caly Lehrer owns Peace-By-Peace, LLC, in Colorado. She actively runs a successful home-based Reiki business. She also writes her own meditations and chairs monthly meditation groups. She received her Certification as a Geo Thermo Therapy Stone Reiki Therapist through Stone Spirits. This allows her to incorporate the use of hot (basalt/basinite) stones, together with cold (marble) stones into a Reiki Session. She also offers Long Distance Reiki Sessions, Reiki for Dogs, Spiritual Advisory Sessions, Meditation Groups and Angel Card Readings. She is a member of, and insured through, the International Association of Reiki Professionals (IARP).