Posts Tagged by Behaviorist
|November 11, 2017||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Intuition, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Science and soul, Seasonal, Training/Behavior|
I’m up way too early writing this this morning. But I’m inspired and cozy as I work.
It’s 330 am, and I’m curled up on the couch by the now-comforting fireplace’s glow. I’m flanked by dogs on both sides, their soft, warm bodies pressed against me, as I sip coffee, reflecting on recent events. I am overwhelmed with what matters most in life: gratitude, love, community, trust & kindness.
I have my house; it didn’t burn down.
Rusty, my miniature poodle friend, is curled up on my left, comfy & safe. Finn, a mini goldendoodle, sighs as he presses in even closer against my right side. Finn is visiting Rusty & I for a day – his humans have their house; it didn’t burn down. Finn is dog-tired from being “Uncle Finn” yesterday to a lovely & sweet but perpetual-motion goldendoodle puppy guest, little Bella. Bella’s family doesn’t have their house; it burned down.
It seems distant but realistically, tragically recent that the worst fire in CA history ravaged northern CA counties.
Just 10 days ago, it was announced that all the fires are 100% contained. Our community is eternally grateful to the heroic first responders’ bravery & resilience in the face of an epically terrifying conflagration. We watched in horror & amazement as fire devoured entire neighborhoods, and friends & family ran for their lives. Startled awake in the middle of the night, often by angelic first responders pounding on their doors, people scrambled to evacuate hell on Earth: a blood-red glowing sky, flames lapping darkened landscape nearby, blowing embers & choking-thick black smoke. Families fled for refuge, finding safety in relief centers, friends’ homes and hotels. We were all in deep fear & shock.
Those of us who didn’t need to flee for our lives with just the shirts on our backs & our pets in our arms, quickly packed in case we were next to be evacuated.
The fire was incredibly intense & merciless. It was a searing challenge beyond measure, often driving firefighters to flee its unrelenting advances. The evacuations rolled out as it spread. So many of us were so scared; so many of us left our homes, not knowing if we’d find them standing when we returned. Rusty & I were lucky; friends in safe towns to the west & south of us kindly offered their homes to us. I can’t tell you how comforting that was.
Personally, my bag was packed for a week.
The evacuation zones grew increasingly closer to my home, just a handful of miles to the north and east of me. The closest advisory evacuation line bordered the end of my street, just a quarter mile away. Three times I thought I needed to flee; three times I thought I’d lose my home. It was a week before I could breathe and begin to believe that Rusty & I were safe.
Now our community rebuilds – resiliently.
It’s who were are: Sonoma County strong. Only a few weeks ago, evacuees were allowed to return to their devastated neighborhoods to sift thru ashes. Most of us haven’t yet personally witnessed the complete annihilation of these neighborhoods – aside from images from drones, helicopters, & press photographers. When we do see the singed ghosts of once vibrant communities & beloved, historical landmarks in person, collective shock & sadness will roll through us, renewed. The charred bits I’ve seen so far caused me to gasp & sob in horror yet disbelief. But I know we will prevail; we must.
We are collectively still processing this ever unfolding trauma.
We might tell ourselves that life is back to “normal” as we get groceries, pay bills, take the kids to school, celebrate holidays, and make plans to rebuild. Indeed, we are not in fear for our lives now. But this experience lives in vivid memory in our minds & bodies – as trauma. It is important that we continue to lean on each other to heal, to mentally process events & move the trauma out of our bodies.
So, Sonoma County, how are you – really?
How are your pets – really?
No doubt, we’ve all been traumatized. Science shows that fear and stress are group-think & energetically contagious. We can all feel it in the air, humans & animals, alike. Trauma unfolds its symptoms slowly; it’s not felt completely initially. So this will be a long-haul healing process. Personally, I’m very concerned about our collective well being. Our immune systems are stressed; our psyches are stressed. But I’m optimistic for our community and our group consciousness’ healing capacities.
We are all now much more awake and raw.
And most of us aren’t used to that experience, to those feelings. Self-aware empaths and intutives like myself keenly feel this energetic shift, the community’s angst and fear thick in the air; we are uniquely called to help heal. I believe it is our purpose to help those affected by tragedy to cope, survive & thrive.
Pets, natural empaths & intuitives, feel the shift, too.
So that rawness & openness that feels new to you is familiar to your pets. Animals are experts in being present in the now, so they are better equipped to release trauma. Your pets can help you heal because it comes naturally to them. Now is the time to consciously, collectively heal, while trauma is most potentially transient if given a loving incentive to move on, before stress events take up more permanent residence in your mind & body.
Begin your healing; plug-in to community.
I mean really plug-in: Get personal. Skip the extra-excessive hours on social media. Rather, help and ask for help – in person. Traumas teach us to rely on each other because we don’t have the choice not to. Stoically isolating doesn’t heal; we’re not islands. (Why is it so darn hard for us – myself included – to get comfy with asking for help?) So build a team to lean on. Use the resources available to you, be they medical, psychological, financial, strategic, social or spiritual. They are there, ready when you are. And you are ready. Be there for yourself – now.
Our pets plug-in, without hesitation.
If they want a cookie, they unabashedly ask for one – without shame. Bonus: In giving Fluffy that treat, we gain a positively warm & fuzzy feeling. The healing connection’s a two-way flow: Fido knows when you need a cuddle. We cry; pets instinctively comfort, and we let them comfort.
Learn from your pets. Use their love lessons in your life, privately & in community.
Give and accept giving. Giving & receiving, giving & receiving – and so the cycle is meant to go. And so we are bonded as family and community, humans & animals, alike – by love. In the face of adversity, remember: Love is expanding not contracting, softening not hardening.
♥ I have an idea – a uniquely healing one! ♥
Together, let’s harness the healing power of the bonds we share with our pets. I’m offering “Mutual Healing Sessions“. They are designed to reduce your stress, as well as your pets’. (Stressed pets often exhibit behavioral changes, including aggression; destruction; and depression/anxiety-based behaviors.) If you’re stressed, so are they. Relax yourself, relax them. And vice versa. I combine my 25+ years of experience as a science-based, positive trainer/behaviorist with my empathic and intuitive abilities to help pets and people heal via the power of the bonds they share.
So let’s get together; let the healing begin.
If you & your pets feel just a bit off nowadays, it’s more than understandable. Life stressors are many & cumulative: current culture, politics, tragedy, holiday hustle-bustle, life transitions, etc. Reach out, ask for help. I’m here for you. Our time together will feel like time spent with a friend. Together, we’ll come up with doable, personalized behavioral/wellness plans, drawing on a variety of healing modalities (training, mirroring, mindfulness, meditation, grounding, breathing, intuition) – whatever resonates with you and your pets the most.
Stay open and awake to the healing possibilities, my friends. Let’s do this together!
Sending you all woofs, wags & tons of love!
xo ~Ruth & Rusty
- “In the face of adversity, remember: Love is expanding not contracting, softening not hardening.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Pets are great love conduits; with their guidance we reconnect with each other with ease, without judgement.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” ~Sun Tzu
- “In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” ~Marianne Williamson
©2017 The Soulful Pet
|January 18, 2017||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Science and soul, Training/Behavior|
2016 was a relentlessly hardcore teacher launching mammoth lessons at us.
Were you paying attention in last year’s class? I was.
Buckle up; this is gonna get personal.
And real. And uncomfy in parts. But that means last year’s lessons hit home – deeply. I accept 2016 as my teacher.
I often joke that since my post-divorce awakening as a writer and an intuitive, I somehow hooked myself to a comet that’s plummeting thru life lessons at a ridiculously head-spinning rate.
Or I’ve caught an epic wave that must be surfed to its fullest. Or both – waves by day, comets by night. Regardless, it’s a master class and I relish it.
I could be ongoingly outraged. We all could.
Hell, we’ve all been politically outraged, haven’t we? But that outrage means the lessons aren’t getting through to us. If we’re right-fighting, we’re not listening, not growing, not learning. So deep breath, and repeat after me: “Puppies & kittens, puppies & kittens, puppies & kittens.” Picture that fluffy cuteness, keep repeating & breathing. Better? Good. Time to chill out and absorb the past year’s lessons.
Here are 6 of my biggest takeaways from 2016 –
about humans, affirmed by animals (my life teachers):
- If a loving relative yells at me, it’s because she’s scared & stressed nearly to death.
She needs my compassion, understanding & stability. It does neither one of us any good if I match her aggression with aggression. Similarly, a fearfully aggressive animal needs you to kindly provide time & space for them to calm. Ultimately, they need your patient guidance through their fears later, when they’ve calmed to a non-defensive learning mode. A fierce response to humans or pets does lasting relationship damage. Don’t go there.
- If a loving friend is occasionally critical or negative, it’s because he’s stressed by his day’s events.
Again, calm compassion. And boundaries. And space and time. (He gifts me these if I’m scared or sad.) He unspokenly needs me to hold a mirror up to him, inspiring self-reflection, returning him to presence. A simple question then silence succeeds: Why are you irritated with me? (I know he’s not, really.) I do the same with irritable cats & dogs: What is not ok for you right now? How can I make you comfy? Growls from otherwise sweet animals require the question: What lies beneath the behavior? Are you sick/scared/painful/stressed? Be safe, but be there to be aware when they answer you. They will answer you. Then get to your vet.
- When life presents challenges – and it always does – they are surmountable.
Rather than obstacles, they are lessons in disguise. I see two perspectives. For legit problems, by definition, if the problem exists then so must its solution. For questionable problems, I apply the “5 by 5” rule: If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t waste 5 minutes of your energy on it today. Just let that shit go. Back to pets: I counsel my clients that obstacles are opportunities. For example: that barking dog behind the fence that your pup can’t pass without transforming into a leashed Tasmanian devil? Be grateful for this conveniently located & safely contained distraction, perfect for positive focus training for Fido. With all challenges, if it seems insurmountable, find a teacher-helper. Just do it.
- Something today might feel like a very bad thing you survived in your past, but it’s not the same.
Step back and evaluate. Is it really the same? Of course not. An example, please? I know a lot of women, myself included, who were badly affected by Trump’s rise to power because it felt too familiar. But he’s not that guy. Remind yourself of that, ladies. He’s just not. He can’t hurt you. You’re fine; you are. An animal example, please? Your new pet is not your last pet. If you were traumatized by the aggression, behavior, illness, etc. of your last pet, please know that this new animal-soul is not that trauma. If your last pet was your soul mate or behavioral perfection, your new furry family member will rise to her own unique potential if you don’t hold her back with unfair comparisons.
- Recognize mismatches and souls whose paths no longer overlap with yours. Let them go.
There is no need to keep someone in your life, even if you could, to the detriment of you both. I now know that a love that was never there to begin with can’t be lost and needn’t be mourned. While I give my heart fully, it is not fodder for others’ toxic whims. That’s where my path must diverge from theirs. It is meant to be that way. I see this play out with pets – as mismatches. A dog who needs time and space to evaluate or escape chaos likely won’t be his best with a hectic, uber-social, on-the-go family. A person who craves & insists on a cuddle-buddy cat is not best paired with a fleetingly affectionate, independent feline. Don’t insist on square peg-round holing it through life. It’s not good for anyone involved. Admit it doesn’t fit and move on. It’s a mismatch, not a failure. Letting a soul’s path diverge from yours gives them the gift to find their better fit. There are perfect matches to be found for all of us. And, it’s likely that your mismatched encounter was necessary to put you both on separate paths to better-suited, destined companions.
With that, I enthusiastically ride the waves & comets into 2017.
I am grateful for 2016’s cosmic lessons. While teachers are often cleverly, even cruelly, disguised, they are placed in our paths because our souls need their lessons. Don’t be outraged; be a life student. Always ask: What can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? Then listen. Really listen. As you studiously wait, apply compassion, kindness & empathy. Then your truest answers will come….
If 2016 was The Teacher, I believe we should put our hard-learned skills to work this year.
In 2017, let’s become The Listeners. (To be continued in my next post…..)
So what did you learn last year about yourself, fellow humans or your pets?
Who was a powerful teacher-helper for you last year? How will your lessons help you this new year? Please share; there’s strength in learning together. Go ahead, get political if you want. But be kind, constructive & inspirational while you’re at it. Remember, you’re somebody’s teacher, too. xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
Words with wisdom:
- “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” ~Buddha
- “Remember, you’re somebody’s teacher, too.” ~Ruth Hagen
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” ~Anthony J. D’Angelo
“Change is the end result of all true learning.” ~Leo Buscaglia
“I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.” ~Queen Latifah
- “Today, I find calm clarity. I am inspired despite the election. I choose happiness (not naivety, not helplessness). I choose a path of love & light.” ~Ruth Hagen, on her FB writer’s page
- “A fierce response to humans or pets does lasting relationship damage.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Don’t be outraged; be a life student.” ~Ruth Hagen
“I take all of my life lessons, which some people might call ‘mistakes’, and apply them to my future so that I keep growing.” ~Kimberly Caldwell
- “When you get older, you learn certain life lessons. You apply that wisdom, and suddenly you say, “Hey, I’ve got a new lease on this thing. So let’s go!” ~Robert Redford
©2017 The Soulful Pet
|July 30, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Training/Behavior, Videos, Worthy reads|
So the Pope said this today:
It’s not a huge shift in the Catholic church’s position, but it’s a start.
Believe me, I didn’t wake up this morning thinking that I’d feature the Pope on this blog…. ever. But when he asked, “Who am I to judge?”, this post was born.
I’m not into organized religion. There, I said it.
My dad’s Catholic and my mom’s Methodist. I did double time in both churches as a kid. Eventually, I identified more with Methodists. The Latin spoken rituals-without-explanation and the belief that animals don’t have souls drove me-as-a-child away from the Catholic church. Eventually, I became jaded to structured religion because it fear mongers and judges. Do as I say or you’re going to you-know-where. Fire & brimstone, yada yada yada. They are so sure that they know. That certainty starts wars and alienates good people (women, the LGBTQ community, independent thinkers, scientists, etc.). That’s my take on my experience. I completely respect your love for your religion.
The truth is, no one knows the truth.
I think we’re all on a journey of discovery and self-awareness. That journey is best guided by Socrates’ golden rule: “Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.” I simplify it to: “Be kind.” My dear hubby is fond of quoting his dad (& Buddha): “Is what you’re saying kind, necessary and true?” Vets abide by the Hippocratic concept, “First, do no harm.” Anyway you slice it, through time, most religions espouse a version of the golden rule. For that reason, I see it as an undeniable truth.
To follow this rule, you can’t judge others, can you? Thankfully, that makes life easier.
I love Molly Friedenfeld’s thoughts on this. In “The Book of Simple Human Truths“, she explains: “Golden Rule Living is the great simplifier. It places us in another soul’s shoes, taking what can appear to be a complex decision that involves another and streamlining it to a one-step process of deciding, “If I wouldn’t like this done to me, then I shall not do it to another.””
The sword of judging others is double-edged: You also believe you are being judged.
That belief can lead to sometimes paralyzing social fears. It also causes you to self-censor & to live your life for others. Back to my dear mom. She lived the judged life as a preacher’s kid, playing inside the lines of others’ approval. I think she’s still trying to shake that censorship. Her story partially informed my feelings about religion. (For that I’m grateful, Mom.) Steve Maraboli says it well in “Life, the Truth, and Being Free“: ““How would your life be different if… you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day… you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.” Life’s too short, people. Just let it go. Accept others for who they are. In doing so, accept yourself.
In my 20 years as a pet behaviorist, I’ve worked with thousands of people from all walks of life.
As with their pets, I can’t help humans if I judge them. You’re not “wrong” if you let your pet sleep in your bed. You’re not “bad” if you let Kitty lick the bottom of your ice cream bowl. (Though you may have a lactose intolerance mess to clean up later.) You’re not confessing pet guardian “sins” if you tell me you enjoy your dog’s enthusiastic, pogo-stick greetings or slobbery canine kisses. A green trainer judges & scolds her clients. But you can’t teach or touch another’s soul if you judge. The best teachers expose a bit of their humanity to their students. We laugh & confess that we’ve shared similar human moments with our pets. Personally, I enjoy a good howl with Rusty. YOLO and Ah-roo!
The stuff we judge others on is ridiculous. Here goes: I’ll expose a bit of my humanity here.
I’m short with curly hair. (I won’t straighten my hair or wear stilettos for anyone. But I do love a cute shoe.) I’m liberal (Shocking, I know). I’m straight. (But fully LGBTQ supportive.) I’m agnostic. (Not atheist, but spiritual; hence “The Soulful Pet”.) I can’t stomach animal or child abuse. (I will judge your ass if I see you hurting another soul.) I’m ex-vegetarian. (Fell off the wagon when I started cooking for my dogs.) I have a twisted sense of humor, and I love a smart scary movie. (I’ve seen Joss Whedon’s “Cabin in the Woods” 3 times. Say the word & I’m in for the 4th.) I don’t like doggy kisses or licks. (I know what you ate in the yard, Pup.) And I use washcloths. (What? Humor my tangent here. There seems to be an anti-washcloth movement a-foot. As a guest I’ve been harshly denied them. My sanity has been questioned by hosts, post washcloth request: “Why do you want one?” Or my all-time favorite: “Why? Are you afraid to touch yourself?”. Really?! It’s a washcloth, not cause for an inquisition.) But I digress…..
Did you catch yourself judging me? I’ll bet you did. The beauty of it is that I don’t care.
I’m fully aware that there were a few hypocrisies in that last paragraph. There should be conflicts, if I’m being honest & healthy. It’s part of my evolving human condition. I need to be true to myself first. Lie to myself to deflect others’ scrutiny? Confess my human traits to another inherently flawed human as though they’re sins? Ain’t got no time for that.
Some of my best teachers in my journey have been animals.
They don’t judge, and they don’t fear judgement. Take Bruno, the Havanese, for example. Despite his quirks, Rusty calls him BFF. Bruno unabashedly barks at animals on TV. And, he happily eats his poop. Heck, he’ll eat Rusty’s poop, asap. And I do mean ASAP. I don’t judge his little, easily remedied coprophagous ways. But that is why I refuse his doggy kisses when he visits. Bruno, do you kiss your mama with that mouth? Geez!
I’ll leave you with this thought:
“No one has it all figured out, especially not the people who are acting like they do and judging you because of it. Pretending to be something you aren’t because you’re trying to please a bunch of judgmental hypocrites and shitheads is not the way to be happy. Living the life you want to live is. It really is that simple.” ~Tucker Max~ “Assholes Finish First“
What’s your truth? (Any pet confessions?) What philosophy guides you? How do you deal with the temptation to judge and the judgements of others?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. No judgement here, I promise. Just keep it civil. Haters will be judged swiftly via the delete key. xxoo ~Ruth~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|June 16, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Seasonal, Training/Behavior, Videos|
This morning, coffee in hand, I struggled with writer’s block & Facebook rules.
Both had me second guessing myself: Why am I writing, and who’s reading it? I began the day, deadline looming, intent on writing a Father’s Day post about why you shouldn’t put off telling important people in your life that you love them. It’s a worthy topic, but it just wasn’t flowing. So I procrastinated a bit and worked on The Soulful Pet’s FB page, instead. But the same pesky questions popped up. For all the good that social media can do, especially for animal welfare, it’s blocked, too. If I don’t promote (pay for) page posts, folks who “like” the page don’t see all of my posts. But they don’t know that. It’s a crap game, really. Facebook is soulless & frustrating, not block-busting. Sadly, it wasn’t a healthy procrastination, and the coffee pot was now empty…..
My mood instantly changed when I watched this video.
It is perhaps the most beautiful, magical video I’ve ever seen: Two souls simply reaching out to each other. I was instantly inspired again. Why? Because it spoke to my soul. And my soul had new, more pressing questions: What kinds of amazing friendships could be born before fear & suspicion are taught/learned? How would our world be different? Why exactly do we hesitate to tell loved ones how important they are to us? As I watched this with tears in my eyes, I knew I had to be in nature today. Writing would wait. Watch:
So I went for a hike in “my church” again.
I was grateful for all the things in life that I love & have reconnected with recently: hikes with good friends, walks with my hubby & dog, trail running, music, writing, reading, and time alone in nature. Burnout was a life block that I conquered. Thankfully, I was only trying to break through a bit of writer’s block now.
I thought about Maya, the adorable girl in the video, as I walked.
I love how she’s so serenely in the flow of her magic moment with the fawn. She’s so sure about what she needs to do to help the fawn. No doubt. No ego. No second guessing. Purely powered by soul. I remember having those moments with animals as a child. And I’ve seen clients’ kids with a natural, open sense for pets. But what about adults? Are they still possible for us? Are we all just too jaded, impatient, suspicious or fearful? I hate to think so…..
Suddenly, it dawned on me that I do still have those moments. We all do, if we’re open to them.
I’ve had many of them in my 20 years as a pet behaviorist. Once, while reviewing a client’s training goals as we relaxed with her dog, I casually mentioned that her dog’s name didn’t seem to “fit” him. She was surprised. (I was, too. I hadn’t said that to anyone, before or since.) She asked what name I thought better suited him. Without thinking, just “knowing”, I mentioned a very unusual pet name that popped into my mind. She stared silently at me. Then she confessed that that was her dog’s name before she changed it. We both realized that this info had never passed between us before. Because we had work to do, we brushed it off & continued the training session. Silly, right? Yet, somehow I’ve never forgotten that moment.
Looking back, I’ve often been told that I’m an animal magnet.
Perhaps you know that feeling, too. Do all of your pets somehow “find you”? It’s like you have a neon sign over your heart & door that announces: “All animals who wander are welcome here.” Me, too. As a trainer, I’ve had countless magnet moments. Pets, often cats, enter the room & introduce themselves to me mid-consult. After acknowledging their greeting, I’ll look up to see shocked expressions on my clients’ faces. That’s always followed by, “I’ve never seen her do that before.” Or – “She never comes out when we have guests.” With their pet cozied up to me, I explain that we created a calm, safe environment, which is attractive to animals. It’s zen, not magic. With practice & patience, we can all tap into it. Truly.
As I walked, I realized that this post was writing itself. It was flowing. But why now?
As with animals, magic happens when you’re true to yourself, in the moment. (That’s the lesson that little Maya’s video teaches.) Writing to please others, to fulfill marketing deadlines, or to earn page “likes” suffocates creativity & contributes to burnout. It also opens doors to gremlins that make me question, “Why write?” No more. I’m writing from my soul.
Fueled by a new determination to openly follow my bliss, I walked on.
And then the magic happened. The late-spring flowers seemed more colorful. The air was sweeter. And I wasn’t alone. For a mid-day hike, an uncanny number of deer crossed my path. I had my spotted fawn encounter. It wasn’t as dramatic as little Maya’s moment, but it was still sweet.
I invite you to walk with me for six zen minutes.
Sit back & relax. Breathe. Volume up, full-screen, watch:
This is my newly soul-inspired message, perfect for Father’s Day:
What better way to tell someone that you love them than to believe in them? If your child, like Maya, has magical “knowing” moments, nurture his/her unique gift. My parents did, and I’m so grateful. While I may stray from it occasionally, I’m always at my best when I’m true to it.
We adults can have our magic moments, anywhere, anytime.
Stay childlike & open to that possibility, and you’ll see. Believe & it will happen. When it does, it’s a true gift. Watch.
So what are your magic moments? Share your bliss; you might inspire others as much as little Maya inspired me!
PS – What about Facebook? I’m not playing that game anymore.
I’d love to see you there, but you might not see me. (Follow this graphic to remedy that.) No paid posts for me. I’d rather donate money to rescues & shelters. Hmmm….. how about a Fawn Rescue group? Wanna join me? Writing for a cause works magic for my soul. xxoo ~Ruth~
©2013 The Soulful Pet