Words of Wisdom for Sept. 26, 2019:
Boz Schiers: Breathing With My Dog

I have a elderly dog, Bodhi, who has gone through a number of surgeries lately. He starts trembling with fear whenever he visits the veterinary clinic. I tried everything I could think of to calm him — soft petting, comforting words, gentle humming, etc. — but nothing really worked.

Then I thought about what I do to calm myself down: breathe. Deep, slow, rhythmic breathing. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Just like I do in zazen. (Just like I do before the doctor takes my blood pressure.)

I can’t get Bodhi to breath deeply, of course, but he does calm down just by listening to my breathing. The gentle rhythm, the breath on his fur, combined with soft caresses, brings a bit of tranquility.

I’ve used this method for quite some time now. In the vet’s office, it doesn’t work a whole lot, but there is some benefit. A lot depends on how much noise and activity is going on in the waiting room. But when he’s in the exam room where it’s quieter, it shows more success. His trembling diminishes and some times it stops all together.

The most noticable difference is when we are home. I have to clean his wounds three times a day — which he hates. He squims and fidgets when he sees the gauze and ointment, but calms right down with a couple minutes of listening to my breathing.

Having said all this, I’m not a vet and don’t pretend to be offering medical advice. But it is something you might want to try.

— Boz

Today's Book Recommendation:

My Dog, My Buddha:
A Spiritual and Empowering Approach to Dog Training
by Kimberly Artley