Loving pets that help us heal

My teenage rebellion was to one day declare to my mom that I loved animals so much, that I was becoming a vegetarian! I was thirteen and it was the early 80s in Greece. Plus, I hated vegetables. So, you can imagine my mom’s reaction!


Well, it was exactly the opposite! She agreed and fully backed my decision. Even though everyone around her told her she was crazy. With her support, I learned to love vegetables and I grew up healthy and strong. My rebellion lasted for three years.


Until 5 years ago, when my transformation began. Discovering my core values reminded me of my deeper love of life and appreciation of every living creature. During this process, I became a vegetarian and eight months later a vegan. It had nothing to do with healthy eating. I could no longer stomach the idea that animals live a tortured life and die a cruel death just to feed me.

Animals communicate, have great instincts, and are capable of giving pure, unconditional love. They deserve our love although I’m not sure we're always worthy of theirs. They have a magic way of knowing how you feel and are always there for you. I’ve experienced it all my life. Lately with my three cats, Wolfie, Lulu and Tiger. They’re always part of my zoom calls. Expressing the energy of the meeting, especially if it’s a coaching call. They act like my barometer.

my 3 cats: Wolfie, Lulu and Tiger

I'm blessed to have them in my life. Only last week, I was feeling sick and stayed in bed for the whole day. They layed there, purring and keeping me company. Didn’t nag me to feed them, didn’t fight as usual. It was heartwarming and so comforting.


But, my strangest experience was with a horse. I’d taken my niece to a horse shelter. They take in old horses, that worked as carriage horses all their lives and rehabilitate them. They teach them how to feel free again and take care of them until the end of their lives. They need volunteers to clean and feed them.


The shelter also runs a program, together with psychologists to help people and horses heal. A person/patient stands near the horses and waits until one of them approaches. The horse chooses the person because it senses a connection between them. Therapy involves them working together as a team, to build trust and communication, which is beneficial to both the patient and the horse. They have reported amazing results. (more info here: https://www.hippolysis.gr/en/)

three horses

Because the horses are old and sometimes lazy, one of the volunteers’ tasks is to take them for walks - not ride them - as they need to exercise. This was my niece’s job that day. There were two or three horses at the sandlot waiting to be walked. One of them approached me and stood in front of me. He started eating soil. I noticed there was no grass, only soil and I wondered why he was doing that. And then he took one step forward and stepped on my foot, on my big toe, exactly where I was hurting! What the…?


Later, as I sat with the owner of the shelter, I told her what happened. She smiled and said “No wonder!” Horses have an incredible sixth sense of knowing exactly what is wrong with someone. They show you what you need to take care of. She had seen it time and time again.


She told me about the story of a woman who came there because she was trying to have children and couldn’t. She needed psychological support and thought of trying this approach. She got paired with a mule (they have those and some donkeys too). The mule kept reaching her and touching her spleen with his nose. In the beginning, they interpreted it as a sign she was bitter about not being able to have children. As the mule persisted, the shelter owner knew there must be something more to it. She suggested getting her spleen checked. As it turned out, she had a rare condition in her spleen that prevented her from getting pregnant. A condition that could be fixed!


I looked at her amazed! It was true I needed to take care of my big toe, but I didn’t pay attention to the soil eating part. Later on, as I changed my life for the better, I remembered. Suddenly, it all made sense. At that time, I was too, metaphorically eating dirt. I was at my lowest point in life, not taking care of myself. If only I'd paid more attention to the horse. I'd have gotten out of it sooner!


I never forgot this story. It deepened my conviction we are all connected. We’re part of a beautiful complex ecosystem. Loving and respecting every living thing is the way to experience and enjoy life as best as we can.

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