Difficult dogs. Cantankerous cats. Perplexing parrots. Temperamental reptiles. They happen to the best of us and all the rest of us. Is your pet difficult? What if your challenging animal companion is trying to teach you something?
What made you decide to get your pet? If you are like most people I’ve met, you didn’t get a pet to have another problem in your life that needed solving.
You probably wanted a pet for companionship. Cuteness. Comfort. You wanted to give your need to take care of something – someone – a ready outlet.
Maybe you even got a pet to help you meet other people – your pet was an entre into the dog park or the cat club or the parrot show scene.
You had good intentions. But they were your intentions. Intentions like these tend to help us forget how challenging animal companions can be. Intentions like these also cause us to respond rather oddly when our animal doesn’t behave in a way that fits neatly into our plans for them.
Some of us rehome those animals. Others of us hire an animal trainer. Some of us head to the vet to ask for pet anti-anxiety meds.
And some of us – myself included – decide to hire an animal communicator so we can talk to our pet directly and find out what is wrong and what we can do to help.
The fact is, “difficult” is just a label we use to describe something that isn’t fitting neatly into our plans. Difficult animals often earn their titles because they do things we don’t want them to do and they keep doing those things no matter what we try.
Sometimes underlying trauma or poor health fuels such behaviors. Sometimes it is simply a knwon breed or species trait we were blissfully unaware of when we selected our animal. Sometimes it is a genuine lack of training or socialization.
And sometimes it is because our animal is trying to teach us something.
As you might imagine, it often takes going through all the other weed-out steps first – going to the vet, hiring the animal trainer, even getting our difficult pet a pet in hopes a second animal can achieve what we cannot – before the topic of animal communication even becomes an option.
There are two main ways that animals teach their people: mirroring and modeling.
Mirroring is the one that often finds an outlet in those pet-people lookalike contests we all love. They’re really funny – when appearance is the only trait being mirrored.
But what about when you are an anxious person paired with an anxious parrot? (Ask me anything – I’ve got 22 years of this one under my belt).
In fact, there are more than a few research studies that indicate we may use mirroring to pick out our pets. The aggressive owner with an aggressive dog. The shy owner with the cat who hides under the bed unless they are all alone in the house.
There are many more examples like these.
But what happens when the exact opposite is the case? This is called modeling. These people-pet pairs are pairs of opposites.
Here are some super-simple examples. The calm cat with the anxious owner. The aggressive human with the never-met-a-stranger canine. The introverted tortoise with the extroverted keeper.
Mirroring and modeling can arise in many different ways – emotional, behavioral, even medical. I have had two animals who have served as medical mirrors for me. Each time, it took working with a traditional veterinarian, a holistic veterinarian and an animal communicator to resolve the issue. In each case, as my pet healed, I healed.
Does this mean that your pet takes on medical or other issues so you don’t have to go through them?
I can only speak from my own experience, and to date I have not met an animal that actually took a human’s medical problems from them. However, I have met many animals who chose to develop a medical issue as a way to mirror or model an important lesson for their people.
Each case is unique. Each pet-person pair is unique. I never say never because in this work, there is always more to learn.
But I can say this: difficult pets are always difficult for a reason. And there are no accidents in which people end up with which animals. The animals pick their people. If you have an animal in your life, it is because that animal chose you.
So now you get the challenge and the opportunity of working together with your pet to ease the difficulty, not just for your animal, but for you both. I have seen people do some pretty amazing things and stretch in some pretty awesome ways for love of an animal – do things they would never otherwise have done and grown in ways they would never otherwise have grown.
Could your difficult pet be calling you to expand? To heal? To overcome? To evolve? Want to find out? I can help!