How would you describe your connection with your pet? Would you say it is more like parent and child? Siblings? Partners? Employer and employee? Friends? Frenemies? Something else? Do you love your pet but you don’t always like them? Animal communicator Shannon Cutts speaks to the troubling topic of difficult pets.
Inviting a new animal companion into our home and family is exciting. Energizing. Rewarding.
It can also be anxiety-producing. Exhausting. Frustrating.
While I love serving my human clients who just want an animal communication session with their pet to check in and make sure all is well, trust me when I say this is not typically the reason a new session request lands in my inbox.
Pet parents are much more likely to reach out to me when things in their interspecies family are not going quite so smoothly.
As a fellow pet parent, I have been there before myself….and will be there again.
The first time I contacted an animal communicator, my precious soulbird, Pearl, was having chronic bleeding for no reason our veterinarian could identify despite multiple tests, each more invasive and scary than the one before it.
The second time I contacted an animal communicator, my yearling redfoot tortoise, Malti, had suddenly gone missing.
The third time I reached out to an animal communicator, I had just rescued a shy feral box turtle named Bruce.
The fourth time I asked for an animal communicator’s help, our 11-year-old dachshund, J.P. Morgan, was going through his end-of-life transition.
You see where I’m headed here.
Our pets are love with wings or paws or a shell. And they also put us through the wringer sometimes with the depth of fear and anxiety and heartache that, had we known in advance it would be part of the mix, we would likely never have agreed to it in the first place.
So if you are reading this right now and judging yourself for having a complicated relationship with your pet, please stop (not reading, but judging yourself). Please, please, please do not judge or criticize or condemn yourself because all is not going seamlessly in your relationship with your animal.
It happens. Every single day.
On some level, “it’s complicated” is the nature of relationship itself, regardless of which species are participating in it. We all love relationships when they work. When they don’t work, however, is when we bend, break and grow stronger, wiser, kinder and more open. The tough relationships are the only ones that have what it takes to make us into someone we can feel really proud of being.
But it sure doesn’t feel that way while it is happening!
What are some examples of how a connection with a pet can become complicated?
Here are a few from my animal intuitive work with pet clients and their people:
- Your super smart feline suddenly refuses to use her squeaky clean litter box. No matter what you say or do, the world is now her potty.
- Your new-to-you rescue dog performs flawlessly in doggie obedience classes, then celebrates after each session by gnawing on your antique furniture.
- Your hatchling tortoise takes one look at you and dives beneath his substrate and refuses to come out until even your shadow has disappeared from the room.
- Your two-year-old parrot takes a sudden deep dislike to your partner, hissing and lunging every time your human significant other tries to come near you.
- You add a new cat, dog, horse, goat, reptile or bird to your interspecies family and, despite all your careful planning and polite introductions, no one is getting along.
What does your “it’s complicated” pet relationship look like?
What is going on in your interspecies family life that has you feeling irritable, stressed, grumpy or flat-out over it already?
More importantly, what can you do to restore some semblance of order and harmony to your household when everything that used to work isn’t working anymore?
The first thing you can do – must do, in fact – is take a breath. That’s right. Just breathe. Breathe in deep and breathe out long. Do it again. And again. Breathe until that constricted awful feeling in your chest starts to ease and you feel your fight-or-flight response fading. It is amazing the good a little extra oxygen can do.
Acknowledge the situation with full respect.
The next thing you can do is to take one more full deep breath and exhale into honesty.
Yes, this situation really does make you feel this crazy. Yes, it really has gotten that bad. Yes, you just are so done with even attempting to handle things on your own. Yes, this issue is simply not going to go away quietly without taking your solution-finding to the next level.
There. You’ve done it. It’s out there. The elephant in the room finally has a face and a name. Nice to meet you. Now let’s get on with it.
Set your intention.
This next suggestion might surprise you a little. I say that because our culture isn’t in the habit (generally speaking) of pausing to set an intention before rushing headlong towards a quick fix.
But intention setting is worth the extra five seconds or few hours it may take you. Over the years I have become a diligent and devoted intention setter. Why? Because intention setting works!
So sit down and get quiet and consider this question: what outcome are you seeking? What would you love to have happen? What is your intention for the highest and best evolution and outcome in this situation?
Don’t overcomplicate this…which is easier said than done, I realize. These examples might help show you what I mean by this.
When our dachshund, J.P. Morgan, was nearing his time to pass, I convinced my mom and dad to do a session with our longtime animal communicator at that time. I set a personal intention for how I wanted to show up for that meeting and shared it with my parents. My intention was very simple: “To be fully present to hear and honor J.P.’s last wishes, whatever they may be.”
When our present family dachshund, Flash Gordon, bit my dad for the second time, and my parents asked me to communicate with Flash on their behalf to determine next steps, my intention was once again very simple: “To seek a solution for the safety and wellbeing of all involved.”
In both cases, taking time to set an intention produced a beautiful outcome I believe I could not have experienced without intention as my guide.
Hopefully these two examples give you at least a few examples to work from in setting your own intention.
And remember, with intention setting, you want to focus on the desired outcome itself, not on how the outcome will be accomplished.
A final tip: if your intention stretches beyond two short sentences (one short sentence is ideal), chances are good you are making it too complicated.
So take a bit of time to set your intention now. What is your goal? What do you desire to see happen to transform “it’s complicated” into “happy and healthy relationship?”
I am a firm believer in seeking support. Here, I don’t see asking for support as a crutch, a sign of weakness or a lack of personal self-efficacy. I just see it for what I believe it is – a valuable addition to the journey that has benefits for all involved.
A tidbit of personal history here to highlight why I say this:
Well before I had any clue I would eventually become a professional animal communicator myself, I was already well accustomed to animal communication itself.
I certainly didn’t know precisely how the animal communicators I worked with did what they did. But I could see and feel for myself how interspecies communication smoothed relationships in our little flock and how I learned and grew as a pet parent every time I invited a professional pet whisperer to join in the conversation.
Yet this is not to say animal communication is always going to be the right type of support or the first pass source of support you will want to seek out.
The key with seeking support is to invite the right type for the situation at hand at every step along the way towards a realization of your intention.
Sometimes you will need to seek support from your pet’s veterinarian. Sometimes you will feel guided to seek out support from a pet Reiki practitioner or holistic veterinary provider. Sometimes you may need to seek out support from a pet hospice or palliative care organization. Sometimes, you may need help from a professional animal behaviorist or pet trainer.
And sometimes, animal communication will be the right choice for where you and your pet are in your journey together.
You may also find it takes more than one type of support before you and your animal companions can fully achieve the intention you are striving towards.
The key here is to keep seeking and searching until you find the support that you and your pet find the most benefit from.
Embrace the journey itself.
There is one more suggestion I will make as you navigate through your personal “it’s complicated” pet situation.
This one goes against the grain of pretty much everything about how our society is wired today. We want fast results with no delays, no wrong turns, no mess, no wasted time or funds or anything, really.
But this is not how evolution happens.
By the time evolution has occurred, the journey itself (and all the excitement of it) has concluded.
So evolution actually happens in the mess, the stress, the sticky situations we get ourselves into when we are trying to learn how to tune into our intuition, consider new perspectives, converse using unfamiliar and uncomfortable words, learn from each other in ways that only personal humility will support.
Pets are cute as all get out, charming and huggable and lovable. But they are also fully functioning sentient and intelligent, sensitive lifeforms with brains and hearts of their own.
The more we, the pet parents, can remember this, the better it will serve us when our pets act out and we don’t consider rehoming to be an option.
Without relinquishment in the mix, the only remaining choice is to grow. To go through the tough times, to go all-in to commit to this difficult relationship we find ourselves in. To re-frame our relationship as one between two equals. To realize our pet may have more to teach us than we ever dreamed possible.
Are you going through an “it’s complicated” situation with your pet? I can help!