Posted to Subscribers on 11 November 2008


Dear Subscribers,

In case some of you missed the beginning of this story, you can read the articles on my Akita adoption from late August.  The index of the posted articles can be found here:

There is one article about Akitas and a couple of pages of pictures as well as another on paying it forward.

Sakura was considered almost unadoptable because she had a number of idiosyncrasies plus the history of seizures.  A lot of her behavior has normalized since moving in with me two and half months ago.  She has only had the one seizure that I first wrote about and the obsession with food to the exclusion of everything else, including normal greetings has subsided to the point of not being noticeable at all.  Nevertheless, she is such an unusual being that I felt the need for some expert input.  I had to wait a long time for my appointment — karma coming back to haunt me — but it was well worth the wait.

I asked a lot of questions, first about Tundra and then about Sakura.  Tundra was not too pleased to come home and find another dog in her house but Sakura evidently told her that sometimes she was so hungry that she had to eat dirt.  Tundra did not want her to have to have such bad experiences so she reluctantly told her she could stay.

In order to understand Sakura better, I asked about her past, what happened. The stories were truly heartbreaking.  She said that a teenage boy was charged with her care.  He was supposed to take her for walks and feed her, but he often neglected his responsibilities and got in trouble with his father for this.  He took out his frustration on Sakura by not giving her any food or water.

She said the first seizure happened when she was very hungry so she thought it was related to the hunger, but then there was another seizure when she wasn't hungry. The conclusion was that she has the seizures when she is frightened.  This made sense because the three seizures we knew about occurred on the operating table when they spayed her at the animal shelter, surely a terrible place for any medical procedure.  The second known one happened when she was about to go for a walk and was already on the leash when there was an incident with a cat and quite a ruckus.  I guess she was afraid she wouldn't be taken for a walk. The third was when she was sound asleep right by my desk but she seemed to be having nightmares. I have been waking her up if she barks in her sleep because it seems better to suffer a couple of seconds of disorientation than to finish the bad dream and risk another seizure. 

In my earlier posts, I noted that Sakura had not responded to the remedies that had always worked for me in the past.  We now know that her particular story is a bit different, but really only a slight variation of the theme because one of the reasons she became anxious is that no one was taking her for walks so she could relieve herself and then the punishment was withholding of food and water.

Unfortunately, this is all the tip of the iceberg because the abuse went much deeper than this, but I don't really want to discuss it all at the moment.  Rather, I would like to take the conversation another direction completely.

First, some time back, I wrote that to change a dysfunctional emotional pattern, we must have repeated and consistent new experiences that are different.  I was completely aware of her obsession with food so I made sure she not only had enough food but that the food was served in a timely manner and that there were numerous treats during the day.  A point came, about two months into her new adventure with me, that she was leaving some food in her dish and was actually indifferent as to whether Tundra ate it or not (Tundra would sniff it but not take it.)  The biggest breakthrough was a few days ago when I came downstairs and instead of charging out the door for breakfast, she actually waged her tail and went for a tour of the house to check for Tundra and then she was ready for breakfast.  This never happened before so it was a milestone and has been repeated every day since.

I want to caution people who are working with anyone with an emotional or physical injury that one reinfection of the pattern can precipitate a terrible regression and loss of trust.  For this reason, I have been very careful about consistency.  If I go out, I leave her with food and lots of water and I always bring her something special when I come home.  I did this rather instinctively but now that I understand the connection between food and her seizures, I will be doubly careful and consistent.

The way my mind works, I start to think of all the other hungry creatures on the planet, the three billion people who are malnourished to the point of total passivity, rioting, or suicide as well as the bees who cannot find flowers with safe nectar and the billions of people who are consuming neurotoxic food rather than real food.  It's a nightmare and a part of me feels personally responsible for every last tear on the Planet, but all I can really do is share what I know and hope many others will take steps that lead to healing rather than a tailspin out of which recovery will be even more difficult.

Today is the 31st anniversary of my Bodhisattva vows, but whether one has one belief system or another, I am 100% certain that every emotion is a reaction to an experience.  By this I mean that the emotions are not themselves causal, they are responses to incidents and events that are initiated by others so there is always joint karma.  This is true whether we are thinking of the relative simplicity of my relationship to a four-legged being whose development was stalled by inadequate caregiving or the far more complex patterns of people facing life-threatening illnesses because the experiences needed to transform their realities have not happened or whether we are talking about the politics of war, dislocation, uneven distribution of resources, and social disadvantages.  We are all not just children of the same Creator but we probably have within us the holographic model of the entire Creation; however, we live out tiny parts of the larger picture, thinking this is the screenplay for this lifetime.  The truth is, with help, any script can be modified but this never takes place without an interaction between cause and effect because cause issues from consciousness, even when the consciousness is not at all enlightened, whereas effect resides in emotional body which is unable to create new reality without new experiences.




Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2008







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