Saturday, May 17, 2014

Change is bad! Change is bad!

Having lived with cats all my life I was quite surprised to learn how much dogs love routine. Cats love routine as well of course but they're usually the ones to create it and then cause you, with mind control, to perform it. Unless of course they don't like it anymore and stop suddenly, leaving you to feel like the fool they know you to be.
But dogs' routine is practically choreographed; they can literally trip you up if you change the sequence of the food and the water bowl in the morning. They might even spend a second or two looking confused, perhaps staring at you compassionately to see what is wrong with you.
The last few mornings in the Sullicake household there was big clinging from both pets. We couldn't figure it out. Had there been a loud explosion while we were gone? Had we been neglectful in our hourly ministrations throughout the day? Was it perhaps an impending disaster only they could sense?
Nothing so dramatic but nonetheless disturbing.
One of us had been having trouble sleeping, and so was lying abed while the other got up and did the morning ritual alone.
But it was not the same! It was different! It was bad!
And so, to mitigate the disaster, we began re-enacting the morning ritual when the other person got up. 
Clinginess stopped. 
Part of me says oh good lord. Another is secretly pleased that our ritual means so much to them.
So here it is, our morning ritual.
Morning alarm. A stirring from all beings but Elder Cat.
Snooze button.
Second alarm. Bodie sits up, listening for stirring. There is none. He lies back down.
Humans lie in bed talking. If this goes on too long Bodie puts his front paws on the bed, which we think is cute but try to discourage. Wonder why he keeps doing it.
Finally one of us says "Ready?" and all creatures move into motion to the Staging Area.
This is where the humans sit down on the rug and pet and pet and pet the animals. You're probably beginning to see why clinginess happens if this step is skipped.
Bodie does Paw and Dimitri does drive-by head-butts and if Bodie is particularly happy, such as after Ann has been gone on a long trip, he will do roo-roo-roo to the ceiling and then we all get up and move to the kitchen where the exact same meal as yesterday is prepared and served into one large bowl and one tiny bowl respectively.

If only one of us does all this and then the other finally gets up, even if the pets have had breakfast, we must return to the Staging Area for petting.
There is one alteration that is welcome, however, which is new treats. Change is good!

How about you, what are your morning rituals and who created them? 

Border Collies are sneaky

Especially on each other...

Thank you to Catherine for the link

How wolves change rivers

I could watch this for the wolf howls alone.
Or the enthusiastic British narrator who sounds like something out of Monty Python.
But the way wolves change rivers is the point, explained beautifully.

Thank you to Carolyn for the link

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Whatever you call it

In the morning I go outside and thank everything. I light some sage, marvel at whatever the sky is doing, and start my list of grateful*. Bodie comes with. 
Mr. "more play now even if we just did what's next look at all the stuff in the yard why is that bird--squirrel!--there's a goat at the neighbor's! fireworks scary heard something in my dish..." sits quietly with me, sniffing the air. He never moves once he's done his business and come back to sit with me. Sometimes we're out there quite a while but he stays.Even at one year, newly arrived and manic.
Recently there may have been some confusion, as Chet the Dog would say, about a fire in the fireplace with the flue closed. Perhaps some smoke alarms. Bodie stopped coming outside with me, bolting as soon as I lit the sage. After several mornings alone I now go outside sageless, he pokes his head out the dog door soon after just to make sure, then comes out to sit with me. Dog's gotta pray, too.
Recently we noticed his big heart displays outside his body as well. Oh come on, humor me.

*Animoush list: Fur, wings, heated blankets/beds, gifted surgeons, the morning ritual, paws, kibble, call and response good-night sighs, shelters, treats, tongues, purring, tails, Chloe, Homer, Katie, Ruxen, Bill, geese flying in formation in near darkness, Christmas ball, Prickly, Cow, Halti, Danette, peanut butter, auto-feeders, car towels, Salmon oil, animal statues, neighbors, snow...

Elllen! Ellen! Ellen!

I am breaking my own rule about making fun of animals because well, I can't get the squirrel and a few others out of my mind.
Forgive me, my friends (you people ones, too).
(Thanks to Barb O for the link)

Worth it

This kind of goes on a bit long. And filled me with anxiety as I hate to see an animal snared by anything. And the video's shaky. Doesn't matter. It's the tail wag. And the name of the guy and... just watch all the way to the end...

Sunday, October 20, 2013


How did the horse workshop go you ask. To recap: I had decided to go because I discovered, right in the middle of offering Reiki to one, that I was terrified of horses. Even though the Reiki worked, I was a mess, which didn't seem the best place from which to connect on a healing level.
Lovely spirits put me in touch with Kate Wood, who teaches the Keys to the Heart of a Horse on Orcas Island. Amazing, wonderful teacher and human bean.

Kate rescues wild mustangs and without any force or restraint, brings them into harmony with herself and others. I like the way she says that the horses teach her workshops.

Of course I was drawn to the biggest one who of course was an introvert. I immediately understood why he would hang back from the rest of the crowd but act hurt if he wasn’t invited. 

I learned about ears. Tight mouths. That classic neigh, and the less known horse “raspberry.” And nodding, and lifting. And that horses can bring their personal space down so far that you don’t even notice when they are casually backing you right up against a wall. Once Black Elk knew I was terrified, he pulled his energy down to the size of a human, and did a lot of waiting for me to Arrive.

On Kate’s instruction we sat in the middle of the ring just talking, letting Black Elk discover me.
When his giant face was completely in my space, Kate pronounced it good and began to leave. The panic that had slowly been rising kicked up 10 more levels and I found it hard to sputter anything but “Are you kidding?” 

“You really don’t look scared, I forget,” she said mildly, and settled back down onto her chair. I glanced at the top of Black Elk’s head to his chin and calculated that it stretched pretty much from my face down to my knees. 

But he just stood there, breathing. Then I breathed. I thought of how when you're trying to calm someone down you draw huge, slow, exaggerated breaths, the ancient call from parent to child to attune to each other. He blew out his breath, nudged my shoulder, and continued breathing. I realized my own breathing had been about like a hummingbird’s, and roughly as shallow. 

I breathed.

Kate left somewhere in there but I have no idea when. Then we walked around the corral, Black Elk behind me, which is how they lead. Who knew? Again I was reminded about learning about anyone—you can have an initial connection but there’s some stuff you just have to be taught, or you are not going to understand them ever. Turns out horses lead from the back of the pack. Although Kate had said we could follow behind the horse, it made us both nervous so we quickly rearranged. That is, I trudged along feeling silly while a giant horse followed me. When I stopped, he stopped. When I looped around, he did, too. All without a rope or a lunge (long rope on a stick).

Magical. Amazing. To be that connected with something so big. I could have done that all day.

And then something shifted.

After we came back from lunch, we learned new skills, having to do with showing the horse your own boundaries and keeping your space. And suddenly I had no connection with Black Elk. He ignored me. I kept trying to do what Kate had said but he wasn’t having any. I told myself I was a loser, that he was mean, that I had screwed up, that he was a wild mustang, my mind a flurry of excuses and fear. Everyone else was having a great time, and all their horses were doing what they were supposed to do, and I was spending all my time in an inner panic. I did what I often do under pressure: I gave up. 

And on top of all the other crap I was giving myself I chose to feel personally betrayed. By a horse. We had had such a connection! We were pals! How could he why did he what did I--?

All of this I kept pretty well hidden but stewed about it for weeks. Finally, with a lot of shame, I went back to Kate’s website and immediately discovered this account.
If you don’t want to read it right now, the point is, this 7-year old child did exactly what I wanted to. She played with Black Elk.

I mean, look at the pictures. Giant horse. Small child. Doesn’t matter. She ran, she skipped, she played, and Black Elk played with her. Oh, go read it, I'll wait. 

I cried and cried. Because what I had done, after letting Black Elk see me, was close right back up. Concentrated on “training” him, on doing my exercises correctly. Being a good student. Just like a grownup. When what I felt when I got back from lunch was “Black Elk! Hello! I missed you! Let’s play again!” Gazing at those pictures I saw what I should have done: Start over, hang out, be a kid with him, breathe together like he taught me.

All the shame melted away, and more importantly, I felt it melt away. I noticed. Which, as good friend Bridget reminded just last night, is all you have to do. Notice. Don’t do anything.

I can’t wait to go back and not do anything with Black Elk.