At Larimer Humane Society, we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our mission without the hard work our volunteers dedicate to the shelter animals. Each of our volunteers combine their love for animals with their unique set of skills, providing the best care possible for our animals in need.
Two of our volunteers, Anna Lane and Gwen Anderson, who lend their services to our Behavior Department, have been practicing alternative healing methods, acupressure and Reiki healing, with several of our adoptable animals who need a little extra comfort and love.
Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique intended to relieve physical pain and stress. In treatment, physical pressure is applied to specific points on the body, with the goal of correcting imbalance throughout the body. This is Anna’s approach when providing acupressure to some of our animals, helping to balance the body’s system. “If ever there’s a medical or behavioral problem [in an animal], the system’s out of balance, and by adding in energy work we can help to balance out the system,” said Anna.
In a demonstration with one of our cats, Anna points to a few major energy points along the cat’s body. These are known as Chakras, and they can be responsible for different ailments and different behaviors in an animal when they are out of balance. Anna demonstrated how to find the heart Chakra on a cat or dog. “You put one hand on the chest and then one hand right where the neck joins the shoulder. That’s for animals who have had trauma or they need calming or grounding,” said Anna. Balancing this Chakra is important for some of our shelter animals who might struggle with acclimating to shelter life. Providing stress management to our animals is an important step to increasing their chances of being adopted.
Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) comes from the Japanese words “rei,” meaning spirit, and “ki,” meaning energy, which translates to spiritual energy. The practice of Reiki healing has proven to reduce stress and anxiety through meditation or gentle touch in both humans and animals. This form of healing has several positive impacts on animals, such as reducing stress, calming destructive behaviors, and easing pain.
Volunteer Gwen Anderson practices Reiki healing as a form of meditation with our animals. Kathleen Prasad, a prominent figure in the animal Reiki community, inspired Gwen to use a different approach to Reiki healing in animals. Understanding that not all animals like to be intruded upon or touched, Gwen integrated Kathleen’s approach where she invites an animal to meditate with her, rather than entering their space. Gwen has found this to be time-efficient in the shelter environment because there are so many animals with varying needs.
By providing the animals the choice to engage in the meditation or not, it is more meaningful and impactful when the animal chooses to engage. “I kind of extend the energy beyond me, so that they’re invited into it,” said Gwen. “Sometimes if they get quiet and they’re all settled down, I just extend it to the whole area.” Gwen added that if the animal walks away and chooses not to participate, then that is their prerogative and she can come back another time.
Gwen told us the story of Charlie, an anxious and jumpy dog who did not buy in to Reiki healing right away. “I shared Reiki with Charlie for three weeks in a row. At first, he would bark anxiously and jump at the gate. Then, he allowed me to sit outside his kennel and offer Reiki as he would lie down by the gate, but would jump and bark once I stood up to leave. The last time I shared Reiki with him, when I stood up to leave, he remained still and just looked at me. He was really peaceful and calm, and I thought I could see a big change in him.” One week later, Charlie was adopted.
The alternative healing methods that Anna and Gwen practice help create the foundation for a positive future for adoptable animals at our shelter. By creating a space where our animals can gain a sense of confidence, trust, and happiness, Anna and Gwen contribute to helping our animals get adopted into forever homes, and we are grateful to them for lending their talents and experience at our shelter!