I’ve heard a lot of theories about whether our animals hold onto the past. And I’ve thought about it as I work with animals.

Holding onto the past as a lens to view life

Just like people, it depends. For instance, if your animal had great experiences with people, they assume when they meet you that you’re a great human, too. Because that’s how humans are!

Stella’s lens

Stella not holding onto the pastMy dog Stella is like that. She’s never met a human she didn’t love. Not like – LOVE. She holds onto her past experience, which was quite gentle and loving. In her lens, humans are decent people.

Stella’s genuinely confused when people ignore her or move away as if she might have a terrible disease. “Glorious human, why can we not bask in each other’s extreme delightfulness?,” she wonders.


Tibor’s lens

Tibor letting go of the past

And then there’s my sweet Tibor.

He had a rough start. I believe people used him to train tougher dogs to fight. So he didn’t trust humans in the least – his lens was from a terrible past.

When I was searching for a new dog in the family, I saw Tibor’s picture and thought, “He’s the one.” And he was docile with us and Stella at the shelter. So we brought him home.

When we got him home, though, he exhibited fear-aggressive behaviors. I was worried. But my dog who recently passed on, Mitsubishi, gave me a clear message that this new dog, Tibor, needed me. Well, okay! Because of Mitsu and my trust that Tibor was the one, we didn’t give up.

Seeing life differently

Tibor was the first animal with trust issues that I helped see life differently. That’s the key, right? You don’t want to force them to behave, and you can’t force them to trust you. They’ve probably been on the receiving end of enough dominance to last four lifetimes.

You want them to voluntarily open to the life they’ve been given. To enjoy the world they should have been born into.

With that intention, we used love and patience to allow Tibor to reassess the human race. I talked to him, did energy healing and then let him experience the goodness of this new life for himself. And he chose to toss away the past – the old lens  – and try Stella’s viewpoint.

Gloriously, Tibor’s still evolving into that loving guy. During our walks, “T” used to hide behind Stella while she was getting love from humans. Or he’d pull on the leash to say, “Enough of this nonsense, let’s get our walk on.” Now he gently goes to a human to say, “Hi, got any love to share? I don’t need much, just a gentle touch, word or look.”

Sanctuaries who help animals let go of the past

The sanctuaries and rescues I love the most adhere so strongly to this ideal of allowing their animals the time to change their minds. Gentle patience all day every day. Not surprisingly, their animals toss off the old lens, and see the world in a new way. Read about two of them.

The Gentle Barn

Little Longears Miniature Donkey Rescue

Asking these lovely souls to let go of their past takes time and patience. It’s not usually a “one and done” event. But when they shift, it’s worth it.

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