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  • Writer's pictureTamara S. Graham

Animals, Anxiety and Awe

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Have you ever noticed how much animals can calm us down? I have found that a loving animal companion can make life so much more rewarding. When my kids were school age, they connected deeply with our golden retriever Shelbie and life was never the same again. Shelbie Angel became a best friend, confidant and nurturing soul for my highly sensitive, empathic, intuitive daughter particularly. After stressful days at high school absorbing all of the energy of about 1,200 students and countless teachers and staff, she would come home exhausted and emotional. She often felt drained by others so being greeted at the door by a non-judgemental furry playmate full of boundless energy and love really helped the daily healing.

I find that animals tend to join you in the emotional state that you are in and energetically shift you into a more peaceful state of mind, often so subtly without you even recognizing it. Whereas, humans on the other hand tend to judge, offer advice and often make you feel wrong - or even odd - for your reaction. Especially if it's a strong emotional reaction to something they don't understand.

The love we felt from our soulful golden is like no other love on this planet. She lived to be 13 years old and we miss her daily. Her doggie smile and gentle eyes were the best gifts any human could receive. We even created a Facebook page for her since she was a huge part of our family, our "Shelbie Angel".

My daughter later described her experience in an article for North State Parent Magazine: “Throughout most of my childhood I struggled with anxiety. For me that meant chronic stress and periods of feeling entirely powerless to whatever my physical experience would throw at me next. I would feel fine one moment, and the next moment I’d have an overwhelming fear that I might faint or vomit in public. As a defense mechanism, I would dissociate and leave my body, only making matters worse. Most of these instances would happen at school where I felt incredibly alone, while also feeling judged by what seemed like hundreds of surrounding faces. My saving grace was coming home to a dog and a cat, both of whom would help me return my awareness to my body the instant that I pet them. Having a pet that is happy to see you and is always there to listen and support you is incredibly comforting when you have anxiety. Especially, because actually speaking words isn’t necessary – they just understand.”

In addition, if you think about the electromagnetic fields (EMF's) that also bombard our kids daily, it's no wonder they come home from school and plop - exhausted from their day. I have found research that explains that dogs will naturally be repelled by energetic fields that are detrimental to our health, while cats will often lay on them to try to shift their energy, or to protect us from it. In our home, our cat would often try to sit on our laps, crawl onto our backs, lay on our feet or even try to get up on our shoulders to help transmute negative energy. It's kind of like their purpose in life, often laying in spots that EMF meters pick up as highly active or energetically dark. I would often find our dog, however, feeling restless in those same areas and move from them instantly. (Fascinating topic that I may diver deeper into in another blog with research to back up my theories.)

Luckily, there were a few spots in our home that were attractive for both dog and cat so they could relax together. Our animals really helped us to calm down, breathe deeply and absorb some unconditional love. That is priceless!

My life was forever changed by our golden retriever and various tabby cats. I am in awe looking back and highly appreciative of what they brought to our family and how much they enriched our lives. I currently have many cats in my life, but no dog at the moment. My daughter and her boyfriend have another dog in their lives which makes my heart very happy. My youngest cat has so many characteristics of our beloved dog, Shelbie, that I feel she has come back in many ways, and you can read more about them here, "Gracie & Shelbie".

I am forever grateful that Shelbie dog and Cody cat were the sweetest friends during my daughter's college years. Not too cuddly or lovey-dovey, but when they were affectionate, the memories (and photos) were priceless. Two buddies on an adventure in love, both traveling across the country and back at different times and comparing notes. I love the photo of them at the window, watching life go by. I can only imagine what they were communicating in these moments. Pure love.

If you are considering adopting a pet, I highly recommend it for anyone, but especially for kids with anxiety, high sensitivity or anyone on the autism spectrum. Life is better with animals!

Tami is grateful for all of her Highly Sensitive Person traits because they have made her who she is today: an optimistic, nurturing soul, full of great compassion. Being a mother has been her hardest and most rewarding job since her unique and sensitive children have been her greatest inspiration and teachers. She is currently writing a series of children’s books for HSP families, The Sunshine Books. Follow this blog for more of her heartfelt ponderings about life and love as she continues writing from her heart.

{Copyright 2019 - 2021 - Most photos are the property of Tamara S. Graham unless noted otherwise}

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