My dogs are my live-in spiritual teachers. Although it may sound like an absurd statement at first, is it really that crazy of a concept? Animals contain a wisdom we may not fully understand, because they do not communicate with us in our chosen human languages. But they do communicate with us on a very real level nonverbally and energetically, providing us with a wealth of wisdom if we are open to receive.

 

Even scientists attest to the power of nonverbal communication. Anyone who has worked with a therapist on relationships, particularly couples therapy, has likely heard the statistic that 93% of communication is verbal (the words we say), while an overwhelming 93% is communicated nonverbally. We express far more through tone of voice and body language than what we actually put into words.

 

Nonverbal communication precedes verbal communication in human development. It is mostly unconscious, primordial, and natural.

 

On the most superficial level, animals nonverbally communicate to us their basic needs. I need to potty, please feed me, I’m tired, or hurt, or thirsty. My dogs are especially adept at greeting me when I come home with an urgent, “Hello, how are you? I’ve missed you TERRIBLY, and am SO STOKED you are back!!” often accompanied by many vocalizations. My poor neighbors… They also protect me, and alert me about perceived threats.

 

The most profound communications are transmitted energetically. My dogs ground me when all I want to do is run away, flee responsibility, avoid unresolved conflicts and discomfort, and escape.

 

Practically speaking, it is much more difficult to live as a free-spirited, go-with-the-flow, minimalist, live-out-of-your-backpack-and-be-kind-of-homeless-in-an-awesome-way type of lifestyle, when you are in the company of two relatively high maintenance, temperamental furry babies. Alaskan Klee Kai are SUPER CUTE (the cutest dogs ever, I would argue), but also quite a handful or two or three.

 

I lived the aforementioned ultra-liberated lifestyle in Hawaii, and it worked fairly well for a while. Then, it all came crashing down around me when my dogs arrived. I struggled with the thought of parting with them in order to continue my free-spirited adventure, but ultimately, my attachments to them won out. I could not give away my babies.

 

Since that time, I have struggled on and off with resentment toward them for their existence. Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? Ferocious thoughts fuel the resentment: “If it weren’t for them, then I could travel as much as I want,” or “I could live anywhere regardless of pet policy, and could even sublet one room,” or I’d have less expenses,” or “I could live in reckless abandon,” etc., etc. But they’re just thoughts, not necessarily truths, and these thoughts do not necessarily serve the highest good.

 

I’ve learned that the anger and resentment that flare their ugly heads toward my precious babies are fundamentally misdirected. I am angry at 18-year-old me, who was alone and miserable, living with my extremely ill mother in our newly purchased dream mansion in Colorado that was an emotional and spiritual black hole. I was drowning in my own alcohol addiction and codependency, completely isolated without a single friend in the area, absolutely void of a direction in terms of my life’s purpose or meaning. I mistakenly thought I DESPERATELY needed something or someone external to myself to STOP THE PAIN already.

 

So I bought a dog. And my sweet lil Ranger danger did indeed make me feel one heck of a lot better.

 

Six months later, my parents asked me to find another Klee Kai, after the passing of the other family dog, a German Shepherd named Shanto, who had been living with my dad during my summer of despair. I found the perfect companion and alpha for Ranger, my little rescue girl, Tempest.

 

At that time, I was not thinking for myself, let alone remotely clearly at all. I was in a drunken, disorderly, and dissociated daze. I had no idea I’d want to be able to travel freely after college. I had no idea buying the dogs then meant I would be fully responsible for them for the duration of their lives on earth. I was absolutely clueless.

 

Eight years later, I am grateful. Ranger and Tempe have blessed me with the opportunity to go back and shine immense compassion upon 18-year-old lost girl me. I get to forgive her for not knowing. Forgive her for being in pain and countless bad choices. I see that I was doing the absolutely best I could at that time and coping the only ways I knew how.

 

For me, self-forgiveness is monumental. I am my own worst critic and enemy with expert skill in tearing myself down, beating myself up, and holding myself to unrealistic, perfectionistic, and freaking insanely high standards of Godliness. It ain’t healthy.

 

But I am learning not to do that more and more every day. And I am feeling so much better and more like myself each time I am offered a chance to forgive, reflect, and be with whatever comes up.

 

I am so grateful for my dogs’ role in leading me back to my hometown in Louisiana when living in Hawaii became less than effortless. Being here has given me the opportunity to face layers and layers of unresolved conflict, dysfunctional behavior patterns, addictions, and other karmic residues that have been blocking me from my fullest expression. I know that the work I am doing now—thanks in part to the inconveniences associated with being a double doggie mother—will prepare me to create and embrace the life I want to live and embody the person I want to be.

 

As I watched Ranger and Tempe navigate the earth beneath their paws yesterday on our evening walk, I experienced a lightning flash of intuition. If you’d like to go a bit out there with me, try on this perspective for fun. I—and any other “pet caretaker”—have been called to be their stewards and caretakers during their lifetimes. I know they are beings just like you and me. Stepping out of linear time and the illusion of separation for a moment, who is to say they are not me? Who is to say the seeds of their souls are not the most important teachers who have ever lived? Think about it from a multiplicity of lifetimes perspective…they could be any great beings from any point in time. How they are treated and cared for may create massive karmic ripples, affecting the lives and souls of infinitely many other beings. Whoa. No matter how I look at it, I feel absolutely honored and privileged to care for them in their current forms in this moment of existence.

 

Namaste to Ranger, Tempest, and all the animals who have been a part of my journey and all of our journeys. They are the unspoken spiritual teachers.

 

 

Published by Taylor Norris