|For 8 years, my county’s Animal Response Team had been planning and preparing to respond to a disaster. We formed our team knowing this is what we wanted to do.
We didn’t know exactly what that might look like. We only knew the day would come when our county would experience a disaster that affected people — and their pets. Then we would be called to set up emergency sheltering for those families and their pets who came to us for help.
We got the call in early February, when ice storm Landon roared into our region and stayed for days. About half the county lost power and, all over, broken trees and downed power lines were left behind. It was bitter cold. People and their pets were stranded at home while the temperatures dropped. A disaster was declared. Our small team was activated to help.
For 6 days, we took turns opening and running our emergency animal shelter inside a larger warming center. People came in, bringing their pets, ranging from a pair of iguanas, to cats, dogs, and a parakeet.
Our team’s mobile shelter was parked outside the warming center. We didn’t use the 28 cages on board — it was too cold and icy. Everyone stayed together inside the warming center.
Here is one story, about one dog I’ll never forget, and I offered both Reiki and animal communication to help comfort her during her stay with us.
A gentleman walked into our large warming center, agitated and upset, saying he had his dog in his car. He’d heard we allowed dogs. He had been keeping his dog in his car to stay warm, a necessary step just after the storm passed and the power remained out in freezing temperatures.
He kept going back to his home to check whether the power — and the heat — had been restored, then back to his car to warm up. His dog Ruby (not her real name) stayed in the car. When they finally arrived at the warming center, she was brought indoors and led to a crate we’d set up for her to warm up and rest.
From the moment Ruby arrived, it was clear that she was scared and overwhelmed. She had been through so much in the previous days, and now here she was, in a strange new place with strange sounds and smells. She had a scraped, bloody nose from her time in the car. She had never been in a crate before.
We had set the crate off to the side near a warm radiator, and Ruby had some warmed-up bedding in her crate, which was then fully covered with a blanket. Her daddy went to our registration table.
Reiki for Ruby
I stayed with Ruby, sitting quietly nearby. She was barking and loudly whimpering, could not settle, so stressed. In that open space of the warming center, the sounds of a frightened barking dog could quickly affect all the residents and pets there, so something had to happen fast to help change the energy to something more calm.
I asked my spirit and Reiki guides, and Ruby’s own guides, to stay with us, support us, and hold us as I sat on that floor with her.
I spoke to her with a low voice, telling her I was going to stay nearby, and would she like a little energy? I offered to show her what I meant, and told her she could decide.
Then I became quiet, began my Joshin Kokyu Ho breathing, and opened a Reiki space for us, as I stayed sitting near her crate.
Next: Animal Communication with Ruby
After a while Ruby settled down a little. After I remained in the Reiki space a little longer, I decided to switch to “animal communication mode” to check in with Ruby.
“How are you?” I asked her in my mind.
“Will he leave me? I don’t want him to leave me!”
I silently reassured her that her daddy was worried for her in that car, and that he needed her to be in a safe place just for a little while.
“He’s going to leave me!”
I reassured her again that she was safe and her daddy would not leave her, and said that he was nearby in our big room. She could hear his voice.
We remained this way for a little longer, and then I let her just be, walking 20 feet or so away from her covered crate. Gradually her barking subsided. An hour or more passed.
Ruby’s daddy secured emergency boarding for the night with Ruby’s original rescue in the same town, back with her “first mama,” until the power was restored.
He knew he could rest a little now, and attend to his home without worrying about his girl in that bitter cold. I walked out with them to their car as she jumped in (making right for the treat box in the front!) for the short drive to that rescue, and said good-bye. I’d met her and been with her for several hours that afternoon. She was a different dog from when she had been brought in.
The following afternoon Ruby’s dad returned, saying his power had been restored and he was back home with his girl. She’d already gone to the vet to get her injured nose treated and her paws cleaned from road salt during the ice storm.
We chatted for a while. He said to me that he couldn’t believe how Ruby had become so quiet in our warming center, after those stressful early days. How did I control her like that?
I just smiled. While I did get the Reiki space started, true, it was Ruby herself who chose to accept the calming energy. She bravely decided that she could feel a little safer even after her hard days, and in that strange new place. No control there, just her willingness to try. Good for you, Miss Ruby!
Reiki and AC helped during the chaos of this disaster event
I’ve been volunteering with Reiki and animal communication in animal shelters for almost 15 years. During my volunteer shifts I frequently meet resident animals — and scared shelter newcomers — who are under stress. My fellow Reiki shelter volunteers all experience this. And we use the energy of the Universe to offer the animals peace and calm.
And sometimes when I need to know more about an animal, I’ll “switch modes” from Reiki, and listen to that animal, answering back in silence.
Great practice for being with someone’s pets during the chaos and disruption of a disaster.
A few of our team with Governor Hochul of NYS (baseball cap) and our County executive (behind her) on 2/7/22
L-R: Liz Wassell, Suzanne Bottigliero, Donna Albright, Allison Barclay