Support Systems

Support Systems

Most mornings I sit for several minutes on the sofa, sipping my coffee, flanked by our two dogs. We settle into the quiet and practice detachment, as thoughts appear and dissolve. Memories, narratives of memories, goals, plans, all randomly float on by. Between the thoughts I experience the present. I feel my breath. My belly rises and falls. I am aware of the dogs pressing against my body. My arms rest on their shoulders. Their coats are different textures. The puppy feels soft and smooth. Camille’s coat is denser, longer, smooth yet thicker. Her coat suggests she is preparing for a cold winter.

The dogs, one under each arm, relax onto my hips. They breathe softly. Dreams shift the patterns of their breathing; stimulating thoughts ruffle their coats, wiggle their toes, and twitch their tails. As they drift into new thought sequences their hair relaxes back.

Their breathing rates and rhythms are different. My arms rise and fall unevenly, as if I were on a small boat rocked by waves. Ilaria, the puppy, breathes faster; Camille, the 6 year old, is slower and deeper. Every 4 or 5 cycles they synchronize. My arms rise together. Then they continue their separate patterns. We continue our separate journeys. I look forward to our morning ritual. My meditation would not be as comfortable or wide ranging without the dogs. They afford me a sense of well-being. Safety.

We are at a pivotal point in our cultural evolution. We are in the prescient stages of identifying sanctioned and accepted biases and behaviors. We are insisting on shifts in awareness’ and responsibilities. Shifts in expectations. We share our personal stories. We recognize the value of outing memories that have been limiting us or debilitating.

Oh, the stories we share! The profound effects they have on us can finally be acknowledged, spoken, resolved and released. This is the re-evaluation and redistribution of personal power. Change is exciting. It’s confusing. It’s unsettling. It’s- can I name it- discombobulating. It’s also scary.

We are processing a lot. It’s stressful. Every event appears intense, bigger, more dramatic, and more personally impactful. 

It is a time when we seek for stability touch points; reassurance that we are safe. We find what we need in the steadfast consistency of our pets. They are honest, simple, loyal, compassionate.

Our animals do not have opinions about any of the concerns so worrisome to us. They are, by default, nonjudgmental. Sublimely innocent. Sublimely present. That’s the reason pet owners are so attached – and dependent – on their wards. 

This is a cultural evolutionary pivot point. We all share this moment. Empathic animals mirror the physical and emotional stresses of their people and their world. We are all affected; especially our dogs.

More and more dog owners are depending on their furry wards to provide them the emotional support they need. That’s a lot of responsibility for dogs to take on. It’s stressful. 

Every dog we massage has a history. We think of them living in the moment; reacting viscerally to their surroundings. Gut instinct. Some reactions are borne out of memories of perceptions of experiences. Habitual holding patterns stay trapped. Haunting. Lurking. Influencing every breath, every thought, and every extreme response.

I think of the dog who panics when he sees someone who reminds him of an old experience. I think of a dog who is adapting to using 3 legs after an amputation. Or, a dog named Dollar who has the karma for moving from home to home.

Their behaviors, the way they move, breathe, digest their food, sleep, interact and socialize, are the expression of the ongoing effects of their accumulation of life experiences. Now we’ve added to their load. They have to take on our stuff too.

Massage helps the processing of the stress dogs carry. This includes all of the sources, symptoms, and effects of stress. It might be physical, from trauma, heightened athletic demand, or for ongoing health maintenance. It might be mental, emotional, and perceived. Dogs stories underlie and reinforce all their physical behaviors.

As a PetMassage practitioner I act as witness for their processing of stress. Dogs, in the trusting environment of my presence and massage, allow restrictive holding patterns – and the memories, angst, and discomfort within them – to be acknowledged, resolved and released.

Just like us, they can only move on when their stress is reduced. With PetMassage their lives are more comfortable; more productive. It’s a process that cannot happen without this intervention.

We are the guides and gentle witnesses for the animals we serve. Though we breathe at different rates, we synchronize our life forces when we join together in PetMassage.

With PetMassage we have a way to give back to our dogs in kind. We give them what they need. Besides and within the maneuvering, manipulation and movement, we provide the intangibles: recognition, time, patience, support, and love. How fortunate are we that we have the skills, temperament and self-awareness to recognize our gifts and be able to express them with our dogs!

I invite you to learn more about PetMassage. There’s the website, the YouTube channel, and of course workshopshome study programs and books and videos

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