Let’s pretend that you are a rescue dog named Sprite. Your person loves to tell your rescue story. When you are with her, she tells almost everyone she meets. You have heard the story over and over.
I am going to tell the same story two different ways. I want to ask you, “Which story do you like better?” While you read the stories, I want you to remember that, consciously or not, people create a picture in their minds of everything that they think and say. These pictures and the feelings that come with them are how animals begin to understand people’s thoughts and words. The clearer the picture, the clearer the message.
Story #1: You should have seen Sprite when he was first rescued. He was a mess. He had mange. His fur was dull and missing in spots. He had fleas and ticks all over him. They told me he was in a high-kill shelter. His kennel was marked in red, meaning he was going to be killed that day. If you went to go pet him he would shy away from your hand, cringe, and then bolt. Someone must have hit him.
I couldn’t even pick up a broom with out him submissively urinating. Can you imagine someone beating a dog with broom? I hate people. He took forever to come around. Sometimes he will see a person with a hat and a beard and suddenly cower behind me. That must have been his abuser — a man with a hat and a beard. Poor Sprite! He still carries the memory of abuse all these years. It is terrible. He has it good now though, don’t you, Sprite? He is spoiled rotten.
Story #2 Doesn’t Sprite look good? He once had a skin issue but look how awesome he looks now. He is all fluffy and soft. Have you heard of Maia’s Legacy Rescue? They saw him at a high-kill shelter and thought instantly that he is an amazing dog. They got him safe and out of that shelter just in time. Just my luck! He had an angel watching out for him, didn’t you, Sprite? He has come so far. Before if you went to go pet him he would shy away from your hand, cringe, and then bolt. Remember that, Sprite? Now he allows a lot of people to pet him, and if an old memory arises, he doesn’t bolt anymore; he hides behind me. I am so glad he feels that I am safe. We are working on men with hats and beards. He is getting better. Some men with hats and beards are nice. Aren’t they, Sprite?
You know what is so cool? He can walk past a broom now with out being nervous. He may give it a strange look, but he can prance right by that broom. I just love my Sprite. I am so proud of how far he has come. Good job, Sprite! He is loved more than anything now. Can’t you tell?
If you were Sprite, which story would you like better?
Some thoughts to think about: Why do people become so attached to the negative rescue story? Who looks good in the negative story? Who looks good in the positive version? Which story creates more positive momentum for the future?
Everyone in rescue (myself included) has been guilty of telling story #1. I urge you to take some quality time to rephrase your rescue animal’s story. Really think about your words, the pictures they create in your mind, and the feelings they give off. Find something positive and make that look and feel wonderful to all. Not only will your animals be thankful, but you may even begin to see steady progress in their behavior. They may seem happier, more confident, and more secure. They may also listen better. Because when they do listen they hear good things rather than having to relive the negative.
I must add, for all who rescue: Thank you for rescuing and for doing all that you do!
4-1-1: Talk with Pet Psychic Laura Stinchfield and Her Dogs Stormy and Luca on Tuesday, April 17, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Ojai Holistic Healing Center, 107 West Aliso Street Ojai, CA 93023. $15. Laura will be talking about her life as a pet psychic / animal communicator and when she could first hear animals. She will give tips on how to talk to animals better, and how to read animal body language, and how to deal with common behavioral problems.
Laura will also address issues of death, dying, and animal reincarnation.
There will be a question and answer portion where attendees can ask questions of Laura and her two dogs Stormy and Luca.
Bring photos of your animals, and if there is time Laura may talk to a few of your pets.
Laura dedicates her life to helping humans and animals to understand each other better. After attending this talk you will be able to understand the world’s animals in a more complete way.