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We’re Not Designed to Lead a Dog’s Life

Animal hypnotherapy is a real thing

"Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell." – Emily Dickinson, poet

When I first met my husband, I discovered he had an interesting skill set. He could make what he called "cat sculptures.” He would stroke their family cat until she got so relaxed that he could put the poor little kitty in any position he desired. I didn't grow up with any pets, so the fact that his parents had a cat was already thrilling enough to me. The fact that he could put a kitty in trance and then shape it in any position seemed like a super power. It was certainly one of the factors in my falling in love with him.

Now that I am a hypnotherapist, I know exactly what he was doing. He was hypnotizing the cat. He can hypnotize dogs, too. Better still, there are people in the world who actually advertise being an animal hypnotherapist. Here in Santa Fe, where just about everyone owns at least one dog, there are animal healers of all stripes. They do energy healing and acupuncture. We have dog whisperers, and horse whisperers and psychics who will tell you what your dog was doing in its previous life.

Can people hypnotize pets?

Don't even think about asking me. This is not my specialty. I bring it up, however, because our dog Dexter was just diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. He has a form of lupus. I have rheumatoid arthritis. In people, lupus and RA are related. Doctors are always testing me for it.

Dexter is what we in New Mexico call a “Santa Fe Brown.” That means he's some sort of mutt. At the Humane Society, we were told that he was a lab. He acts like a lab - sweet and intuitive - but he doesn't look like one. Up next to a German Shepherd, it's easy to see he has the same body type. His face seems to have a smattering of pit bull. His tail is more like a Huskie’s or an Akita’s. It turns out that when labs and German shepherds live in high altitudes, where they are exposed too much to the sun and wind, they can get this form of lupus.

I bring this up in a blog about hypnotherapy because, unlike people, Dexter could never tell us how he was feeling. I have never owned a dog before – just cats post marriage - so I wasn't familiar with dog health issues, let alone high-altitude ones. After we got Dexter, about 18 months ago, we took him to several doctors – and no one diagnosed him. Looking back, he had the signs all along, in particular his nose was not a healthy black, and it was sometimes very dry. He also had digestive issues. We figured out early on he needed a special diet. But in a land of exotic bugs and grass and sticks, it was easy to believe he caused the trouble himself. The doctors all said he was fine - until one day when his nose started bleeding. Finally, someone saw the truth.

Several of my friends said what a coincidence it was for Dexter and I to have similar physical temperaments. Some even said he was lucky that he had a family who could understand what it's like to have an autoimmune disease. But the fact is that Dexter lived with a certain level of discomfort for a long time. If he had been a seven-year-old child, he could've communicated.


Can people really heal themselves?

So now I come to the real point of this article. Human beings, over any other creatures, have the capacity to self-heal. They are articulate. They can describe symptoms. They can search for the right help. They can follow directions. Human beings have evolved to create medicines and therapies, with hypnotherapy being just one. When I prepare clients during their first session for our work together, I tell them how extremely important words are. I tell them that, if I ever use a word that feels wrong to them, or they don't understand, they should stay in trance and correct me. Words matter. Tone of voice matters. Accessing memory and imagination matters. I’m just a guide, and clients are really healing their minds themselves.

As little babies, however, people can't communicate their needs – or perhaps they even learn to suppress their needs long before they are able to speak about them. My daughter, for example, was adopted from China at age 4 months. Though she passed her medical tests, she came with some problems that took years to unravel simply because she couldn't tell us. She had a hearing loss that got diagnosed at age 3 only because I noticed her behavior was so similar to that of a little boy with a hearing loss. When she was seven, and more articulate and able to make comparisons for herself, she told me that she experienced blurring in the middle distance. After taking her to a couple eye doctors, we finally landed on an expert who explained that her eyes didn't function correctly. Most likely, she had actually been perceiving the world with a blurry middle distance since her time in the Chinese orphanage.

Now that she’s an adult, she has done therapy and hypnosis (though not with me, of course.)

She can recognize the bits of her mindset that don't serve her, and she can choose to change. Before age 7, when her subconscious was taking in all the trauma of abandonment and the frustration of life with minor disabilities, she was more like Dexter - unable to find help and possibly not even knowing she needed it. But after age 7, when the ability to compare and analyze slowly crept in, she could recognize she needed help and ask for it.

With hypnotherapy, self-hypnosis, yoga, and meditation techniques, a client can heal in big ways and small. In just a few sessions, a client can easily reverse a fear of public speaking. In many more sessions, plus maintaining a practice of self-work, a client can slowly reverse illness and even turn off the implicating genes. Someone who grew up in a household of abuse can learn what it feels like to be worthy of love and win it.

We live in the most prosperous and economically advanced era of all time. While we all still die, most of us expect to live a fairly long time, and the potential for living well is enormous. There's really no reason to live in misery. After all, the mind is flexible, and the brain is plastic. Human beings have the ability to speak, to assess, and to grow. It doesn't have to be a dog's life, unless that’s what you want.

Even in difficult circumstances, healing and growth are possible.

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