Your animal companion is a listening ear, someone to take care of, as they take care of you. They remind you to be in the joy of the moment. As with any deep friendship, your relationship with your animal affects your life…and it affects your animal friend’s life, as well. Underlying what you see on the surface of your interactions is a deep well of emotional connection. Is your relationship with your friend supportive and easy or fraught with tension? Do you understand what they’re communicating, and are you good at conveying your needs and emotions to them?

Dr. Laurel Davis works to strengthen the relationship between you and your animal companion, which is the basis of true and lasting healing. Many stories show the powerful connection between human beings and their animal friends. Here’s one:

Harold had a stroke just ten days after an aortic valve replacement surgery and lost total function of his left side. He had been an active 84-year-old who treasured being out of doors with his brilliant German Shepherd dog, Terry, and his two horses, Twister and Boots. Suddenly, his world became a microcosm of hospital beds, mechanized wheelchairs and prescription drugs.

Enter Kara, his amazing granddaughter, who offered to be his primary caretaker, and her delightful Shih Tzu, Bella. From the first day, Bella became Harold’s sidekick, offering to clean the extra food from his face and sleep in a crook beside his immobile left leg. Harold would beam his crooked smile as he ran his one functioning hand over her warm, soft body.

Kara and Bella tag-teamed Harold’s care for 1 ½ years, when Harold quietly left this world. Within a day after Harold and the hospital bed left Kara’s home, Kara would find Bella taking naps on the floor in the exact location where she had snuggled up against Harold. She continued to choose this spot to sleep on for several months.

It is this emotional authenticity and simplicity that intrigues and captivates us. Our companion animals have clean and clear emotions. They live their lives moment by moment. They have no regrets, no guilt and no hidden agendas. They offer pure emotions such as unconditional love, excitement, fear and aggression. “Let’s sprawl on the grass in the warm sunlight. Let’s play with the ball. Let’s lie in the creek to cool off. Let’s lick this face because it smells like peanut butter. Let’s climb over the fence to catch the squirrel! Let’s spray urine on this wall because the frenetic energy in this house is upsetting me.”

These friends of ours express themselves simply. They greet each day fully and with all the vigor they can muster. It is no wonder we find them so refreshing and just plain lovable. They are so renewing, in fact, that many people would rather spend time with their animals than with humans. We trust them with our deepest secrets, our darkest fears and our wildest dreams. They listen and they hold the space for our healing and our emotional growth. They are truly part of our family.

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