I want to tell you about my new therapeutic partner, Syrus. Syrus is the German Shepherd who came to us last October (2010). He was found, hungry and lost, by a dear friend on the golf course that adjoins her home in Chattanooga. No trace of his previous owner was found, even though my friend did everything she could think of to locate them, and so, since she had no place to keep him, he came to us.
Our veterinarian placed him as being somewhere right around a year old. Having all the regality and intelligence of the best of his breed, Syrus is truly a beautiful dog (that's his photo!). He has been well-socialized by his previous, and obviously doting master, and he is sweet-tempered, and full of puppy playfulness – when outdoors, but as soon as he crosses the threshhold to come inside the house, he becomes a different animal. His good social manners makes him a joy inside or out. In short, he fulfills everything we want in an animal – and MORE!
To fully understand what I mean by those last two words, let me back up and give you a little history … I spent some years during my growing up years working with horses, and had come to greatly respect their ability to read people. I came to realize and appreciate the powerful role that horses can play in the healing process of working with people therapeutically.
A few years ago, I spent a week with a mother and daughter team out west, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, who used horses in their therapy with troubled youth, as well as troubled adults. I returned home after spending time with them, completely fired up about the possibility of working with horses, and then the reality of all that would be required to accommodate horses, and to set up for that kind of work dawned, and I gradually had to let the dream go.
And then Syrus showed up! Right away, I told my husband that Syrus was the most horse-like dog I’d ever personally known. His personality, as well as the way he moved, reminded me so much of his equine brothers. But it wasn’t until I experienced him in action during a recent workshop, that I was truly able to witness the potency of his natural therapeutic abilities with people! It was then that I became most vividly aware that my dream of having an animal helper was being realized!
Here’s what happened.
Our workshops often take place outside, on our pond stage, which is truly a beautiful setting in nature. At this particular workshop, unbeknownst to me, a participant, we'll call her CC, came who had been bitten by a German Shepherd when she was a child. CC was sitting next to me in the circle when I invited Syrus to come lie down beside me. I had no idea, when I invited Syrus to join us, that she was terrified of him, and she said nothing to me at the time about it. Nonetheless, as you can imagine, the memory of her childhood dog-trauma was vivid in CC's mind as she sat there, so alarmingly close, to his mighty dog-presence.
During the part of the workshop where I asked people to reconnect with a painful early memory from childhood, CC, of course, went back to that traumatic event in her childhood when she had been attacked by a dog. She closed her eyes and dropped her head, as she re-lived the event, and began to cry.
There’s nothing unusual about people moving into tearful spaces when doing this work, so it did not alarm me to see CC in a child-like meltdown. I still had no idea that her experience had anything to do with Syrus.
It wasn’t until we were processing the experiential as a group, that CC recounted the magic of what had transpired between her and Syrus.
It was then that she told the group how she’d gone back to the time in her childhood when she had been dog-bit. With eyes tightly closed, she reported, she had re-lived the fear and trauma of that event, and then, CC described how she had suddenly opened her eyes to find Syrus standing there in front of her, no more than 2-3 inches from her face, and looking intently at her, with a look of total dog compassion in his eyes.
“All I could see was the tremendous love in his eyes,” Seeing his love, she had spontaneously thrown her arms around his neck, and sobbed. Syrus responded by kindly licking away her tears.
It was obviously a powerful healing moment. But Syrus was not finished yet.
The next day, CC returned to the group in a totally relaxed and joyous place. She was bubbling with joy and I stooped down in front of where she was sitting and hugged her. I could feel the huge warmth of her wide-open heart, and at that very moment, Syrus moved around behind CC, totally unprompted, and leaned his body gently up against her back so that CC's heart was even more deeply pressed into my own. We both laughed out loud! It was so perfect! So exactly the right thing for him to do! So loving and healing and totally divinely inspired!
Watching Syrus brought me the recognition that it his total presence in the moment that allows him to be that kind of available to the nudges of Source. He is so in present moment Reality, with a total absence of self-importance, or self-concern, or any kind of limiting story, making him perfectly accessible for the Universal Intelligence to move him to where he is needed most.
Oh, to be that available to the promptings of Source! It appears I have much to learn from my dog-partner, Syrus. Not only is my he turning out to be a great therapeutic partner, but a model for what being available for Source really looks like!