Just the other day I was watching a client’s dogs keeping tabs on their owner while she had a lesson and thinking about all the relationships I’ve developed with horse owners’ other pets over the years.
There was the irrepressible Siamese cat who used to run up the tail of a rather fiery Thoroughbred gelding and perch on his butt. This was a horse who didn’t really like to have his tail touched, groomed, washed. But his cat friend was welcome to use it as a ladder to reach her favorite napping spot, sometimes even during a rest break in a lesson.
A big black dog who lived at one of the places where I boarded in Colorado was my first reiki “client,” seeking me out to help him when his immune system went haywire and tried to get rid of most of his skin. He had never shown much interest in me before he was sick, but afterward he met my pickup at the gate every day and presented whatever body part needed a little energy fix before I could even get out.
And an inbred, overweight and chronically lame donkey was my teaching helper at one facility, standing quietly in the middle of the ring with me asking for scritches while I was giving lessons on his pasture mate.
It’s wonderful to have all the extra animal pals. But the downside, of course, is that I get attached to them and hurt with their humans when they get sick, injure themselves or die. Sadly, today I got the news that one of my many barn buddies reached the end of her life. So this post is for all the various critters who have included me in their families over the years, including Alice, a sweet-but-willful Akbash Dog who lived a very happy life into venerable old age.
My function in her life at one point had been as on-call weekly masseur, taking a little break from working with her owners and their horses to ease stiffness in her shoulders and hips after she played too hard. She knew that if she was sore she only had to stand and look pointedly at me and I would give her what she asked for. Humans are, after all, fairly trainable.
The last time I saw Alice, she was looking frail and her balance wasn’t good but she still greeted me and stood for a gentle rub. My most enduring memory of her, however, is of looking up from teaching in her owners’ arena to see a white streak disappearing into the tall grass as she escaped over the hill toward the neighbor’s house, taking advantage of her owner’s lesson focus to go walkabout.
Akbash dogs are herd guardians with a strong drive to patrol their territory, which doesn’t necessarily coincide with human-created property lines or fences, so Alice did sometimes run afoul of the law, busted for trespassing when she was, of course, just doing her job. Silly humans.
Oh, and she loved to roll in whatever stinky thing she could find. One summer she had a secret stash of putrid something-or-other and she gloried in standing close to gauge from my reaction just how well she had ground it in to her white coat. Okay, well maybe I could let that particular memory go with her into the next life. So long Alice. Thanks for being my friend.