It’s those big soulful eyes that draw you in.
Big puddles of chocolate framed in long fringed lashes, they seem to look directly into your soul.
To acknowledge you.
Funny how it takes you aback, to have an animal that you never have given more than a second thought to, to actually look at you and see YOU with a total acceptance.
Until I met Doreen, I would not have thought that cattle could be so calming. To sit and watch the calves play, to see them interact with their mamas, to hear them bellow to each other over the hills brings a sense of peace, like the worries of the world sort of melt away.
And then I met Henry. I came to the farm in a tither, my world tilted on its axis. Henry is a calf from this spring, growing quickly. As we wandered out to meet the day’s two newest additions, Henry wandered up to snuggle up to my hip. He was insistent on having his forehead and horns scratched, and if I stopped he would rub his head and horns along my hip until I would scratch his head and neck again.
Henry stayed until I was giggling, forgetting my terrible day and what had brought my blood pressure so high. As Henry accepted me, soon the other cattle began to come investigate the newcomer. Mamas and babies came over to see who Henry had accepted into the herd. Noses poked in, scratches delivered, and worries dissolved.
Henry isn’t my first experience with finding my center with the help of an animal. In fact,
As I write this my dog, Chassis, is snuggled tight against my hip. Chas is a rescue dog, although to be honest, I am not sure who rescued who. He is our “little man”, baby number four in the house. He is a goofball, loves tug of war,any toy with a squeaker, bones, running with the kids, and is a blanket hog. He has an innate ability to sense an oncoming panic attack and will climb into my lap and lick my left wrist, insisting on being loved up. It doesn’t always stop them, but the distraction early on can help it from becoming what I call an “Episode”, the kind that take days to recover from. While they still happen, having this curious, silly, totally devoted snuggle buddy has reduced the frequency and intensity if he is close by.
There are therapy animals that visit hospitals and nursing homes. Time spent petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure. Some courts are now even allowing therapy dogs to sit with children as they testify. There are various programs where horses are used for therapy, and a whole array of training for service animals to increase quality of life.
The best part is that these connections can be found everywhere, in fleeting moments, even if you don’t own an animal. Its the squirrel who stops it’s scurrying to look you in the eye, the crow in the field that seems insistent on telling you it’s story, the elephant at the zoo who reaches through to ruffle your hair, the ducks on the pond who swim your way to investigate, the whale in the aquarium that decides you are the playmate of choice.
I think the draw to these connections is that our animal companions see us as we really are, behind the mask. They can see the parts we try to hide, the nervous, needy, sometimes angry parts and they accept us as is. That total acceptance is a balm to the soul and brings us a sense of peace and happiness.