Our twelve-year-old dog, Leaf, is a rescued cocker spaniel who has lingering issues. Abandoned at an animal shelter when he was about a year old, we found him alone and in need of a loving home. After my husband, Allen, and I adopted the dog, he promptly changed our lives. His transformation from being an emotional train wreck to a happy, well-adjusted family member has been one of the greatest joys of our lives.
When we take Leaf to the veterinarian, though, he reverts back to the dog who thinks he must defend himself from humans that might hurt him. We are always faced with helping him cope with a vet and a young vet technician who must hold our terrified dog through the examination.
Usually Allen and I do vet visits together. I position myself in front of Leaf’s face, trying to distract him from probing hands and a stethoscope or—horrors!—a vaccination shot. My attempts at keeping him from going ballistic have had varying degrees of success.
On one occasion, I was faced with the prospect of a vet visit alone. Allen was out of town for work. So it was just Leaf, me, and our spiritual support team on this mission. We had to find out why Leaf had mysteriously and unexpectedly been experiencing intense pain.
The previous weekend, Allen had brought Leaf to their favorite, multi-acre, off-leash dog park near the Mississippi River. There, Leaf rolled around the beach in sand that clung to his fur, chased after balls, and climbed rocks to view scenes below. Leaf had played with greater-than-usual abandon. Since then, he’d been hobbling, waking up squealing, and hiding under tables to avoid going outside. All of these behaviors were out of character for him.
Allen and I assumed he pulled a muscle. With rest, he would rebound. Then we remembered hearing about dogs contracting bacterial infections from swimming in or drinking stagnant water. Had Leaf wandered into such water at the dog park? This could be more serious than we thought. We watched anxiously throughout the week as his symptoms worsened.
Spiritual Tip #1—HU for Inner Peace
I helped Leaf into the backseat of the car. Ordinarily he bounds onto his blanket, anticipating a ride to some fun and interesting destination. But today, he winced at making the jump.
As we pulled out of the driveway, I hit a button on our car’s CD player. The first tip from the spiritual toolbox I’d use on this journey would be to play the HU CD while we drove to the vet. This CD recording of a large group of people chanting HU, an ancient love song to God, is a staple of my driving.
For both of us, human and canine, the HU song serves as a lifeline to inner peace. When Leaf is in the car, he lies on the backseat, listening to HU and transforming into a serene little pup.
Spiritual Tips #2 and 3—Request Help from the Mahanta and the ECK Masters
At the vet’s office, Leaf and I sat in a little room and waited for the vet and vet tech to arrive. Posters and images of healthy animals decorated the walls. Leaf sprawled out on the floor with his head down, anticipating an inevitable invasion. He has a chronic condition of pancreatitis and knows the routines here well.
A spiritual tool for me is to listen for inner guidance from the Mahanta. I rely on the Mahanta for wisdom, protection, and enough love to fill an ocean. Another spiritual tool is having help from a spiritual Master with a specialty. Prajapati is the ECK Master whose service to life is to care for animals.
I’ve often met Prajapati in my dreams. (Yes, it’s possible to meet spiritual Masters in your dreams.) People experience his outer appearance in different ways. For me, Prajapati is a tall, slender man of indeterminate age. I see him with wavy blond hair and translucent skin that shimmers with the Light of God. He’s always accompanied by animals, sometimes walking along the beach with a horse or bending down to gently pet a dog or cat.
While the vet examined Leaf this morning, I inwardly sang HU and attempted to keep our dog’s attention on anything other than what the doctor was doing to him. Somehow, we made it through the ordeal. Afterward, Leaf shook off the vet’s intrusion, sniffed the vet tech’s shoes, and spun his wagging tail like a helicopter blade. “I know you mean well, but get me out of here,” he seemed to say.
The vet told me there was no sign that Leaf’s pain was coming from anything worse than a pulled muscle. He offered an anti-inflammatory and pain medication and cautioned me to let Leaf rest and recover, without a lot of exercise, until the muscle healed.
Then he mentioned that Leaf’s midsection was swollen. “It could indicate the start of Cushing’s disease,” he said. The vet explained that the disease can enlarge the abdomen. Caught early, it can be treated effectively. He promised to make a note about Cushing’s in Leaf’s medical chart. Vets at this office would continue to watch for symptoms that the condition might be progressing.
One thing had beautifully, sweetly, providentially led to another. Now we’d been alerted to a potential problem that could be controlled before it harmed him. Leaf had been protected with exquisite precision and care once again.
Spiritual Tip #4—Feel the Gratitude
On the way home from the vet, my heart filled with gratitude. I’ve learned that gratitude is another spiritual tool that opens me to receive blessings and increases my ability to accept more love in my life. I think about all the people I have met over the years who love their animals as much as I do mine. Wouldn’t their lives and the lives of their animal companions be enriched, as mine has been, by the spiritual tools I use every day? I hope, somehow, they will find them.
I feel special appreciation for the wisdom of Sri Harold Klemp and his insights on unconditional love. He writes in Animals Are Souls Too! “Often when we speak of love, we think of it being exclusive to the human race. Yet if you have pets, you know that sometimes animals are capable of giving more of God’s love than many humans can.”
Leaf and I drove home with the HU CD as a soundtrack for the ride. Leaf fell asleep in the backseat after his accomplishment of surviving another vet visit. At home, I filled a pill pocket with his first dose of medication and put it in a bowl of homemade dog food.
While Leaf gulped down the food and medicine, I looked out the window at birds and squirrels in our backyard scampering up and down trees that were sprouting with spring leaves. Silently I said thank you.
—Photo by Allen Anderson