Monaco was an eight-year-old Golden Retriever who was diagnosed with a brain tumour and not given long to live. She had also lost mobility in her hind leg and had to wear a harness to walk. Although Monaco was receiving medication to reduce her seizures, her owners had elected not to treat her with radiation or chemotherapy. Instead, they called Reiki Master Barb Keshen to administer Reiki treatments to Monaco three times a week. Within two weeks, Monaco was walking without a harness and her owners were able to reduce her seizure medication. Monaco continued to receive Reiki once a week for about six months and went on to live for a year and a half longer. Her veterinarian said she had never seen an animal with this condition live that long.
Reiki is a centuries-old hands-on energy healing practice that was rediscovered by Mikao Usui in Japan in 1922. The Japanese “rei” is roughly translated as “ghost-like spirits,” while “ki” means “mind, spirit or heart.” “Rei-ki” is commonly accepted to mean “life force energy.” Reiki practitioners must receive attunements from Reiki Masters in order to become connected to the limitless source of ki, then channel the ki by placing their hands on or near the various areas or chakras of the body. Chakras are energy centres that correspond to bodily functions, developmental stages of life, states of consciousness, colours, and sounds. Painful or traumatic experiences cause energy blockages in the chakras, which then can create physical symptoms. The transfer of Reiki energy from a Reiki practitioner to a receiver helps release these blockages of energy so that the body can start to heal.
While many people have received Reiki over the years, the application of Reiki to animals is relatively new, becoming popular within the last five years. As alternative medicine sweeps through the mainstream population, it is a natural evolution for individuals to want to treat their animals using holistic health. Elaine Turner of Pawsitive Connections, a Newmarket, Ontario Reiki Master who specializes in Reiki for animals, states, “Animals are like children, their chakras are so much more open than adults. As adults, we get affected by society and our chakras become shut. Animals, on the other hand, receive Reiki intensely and quickly.” Turner has worked with dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits, birds, roosters, horses, turtles and tortoises to name a few.
Reiki for animals is similar to Reiki for individuals in that the practitioner can administer the Reiki energy in person or by distance. The Reiki practitioner must obtain the animal’s approval before delivering the energy, and this is done by asking the animal whether he would like to receive Reiki and receiving the response on an intuitive basis. Turner states that she usually starts by “scanning the animal’s body and starting on the brachial chakra, which is the chakra that balances all the other chakras, and the root chakra because most animals need grounding.” She notes that because animals receive Reiki more intensely than people, it is common for them to walk away from the treatment and then return. Turner says they are actually “walking in and out of the flow because Reiki energy is more intense for animals.”
Turner is quick to point out that Reiki should not replace a trip to the veterinarian, particularly for animals who have health issues. In fact, she often will not work with animals until they have seen a vet. (Legally, Reiki practitioners cannot diagnose medical conditions.) Turner adds that Reiki works hand in hand with traditional treatments. “Reiki relaxes the animal and allows his body to heal,” she says. When asked whether all animals are receptive to Reiki, Turner states, “In my experience, it is rare that I get a no, but I can tell when an animal is refusing Reiki because the energy flow from my hands stops.”
Turner will usually travel to the pet’s home and charges $85 for the initial session, which includes an initial e-mail or phone call regarding the pet’s problem, and a minimum of $15 for travel time. Follow up visits are $60 a session. Turner says it is hard to estimate how many sessions a pet will need, but many pets need only three sessions. Pets also need Reiki for everyday health. “Pets become traumatized when they are moved or put into kennels while their owners go on vacation and Reiki energy can help ease the transition,” she adds.
Many individuals who are skeptical about Reiki claim that it is difficult to know whether Reiki is responsible for creating positive effects in an animal’s health. Phyllis Straub, a Toronto Reiki Master who works with people and pets, recalls seeing a cat at a veterinarian’s office in a cage that obviously had a bad disposition: he was “hissing and growling at anyone who would come near him.” She sent Reiki energy to the cat on the condition that the cat wished to receive the energy. After the treatment, Straub notes, “the cat became quiet and passive, and even allowed a veterinary assistant to approach him to move his cage.”
Straub considers that the proliferation of animal spas is indicative of animals’ need for relaxation, a direct extension of “humanity’s need for stress release.” Her observation will ring true for anyone who has witnessed similarities in the dispositions between an owner and his pet. Further, she states that animals are humans’ connection to nature. “By strengthening humanity’s connection to animals, Reiki improves humans’ connection to nature as well,” she adds.
Straub points out that animals “reflect the issues of their owners. Pets take on their energy and provide their owners with illumination. When a pet has an illness, there is almost always someone in the family who has a behavioural or health issue.” Straub says that when owners are prepared to address their own issues, their animals will heal as well. Further, she notes that Reiki can also help dissolve energetic blockages between humans and animals. “People may have old patterns of thinking, preconceived notions about animals, for instance, that they are second-rate denizens of the earth. But animals are so smart and they can teach us so much. Reiki helps owners become more sensitive to animals,” she says.
Considering all of the potential benefits of Reiki for individuals, it is easy to see why pet lovers are eager to extend Reiki’s benefits to the cherished creatures in their lives.