A few months ago I contacted Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters after learning about her unique approach to working with behavioural issues in dogs and using zoopharmacognosy to help dogs and their humans.
Rachel is a qualified applied zoopharmacognosy (“AZ”) practitioner, Qualified Dog Behaviour Therapist and Canine Communication Coach. Rachel studied AZ with Caroline Ingraham. For more information about AZ please see here.
I attended a workshop run by Rachel on 12 June 2016 where Rachel took participants, with the help of two canine volunteers, through the process of enabling dogs to select precisely the remedies their bodies are looking for and techniques for creating a supportive environment for this beautiful exploration of animal choice and healing.
Rachel explained and demonstrated how AZ gives dogs a voice and enables them to communicate with their humans. To this end Rachel drew on her own experience with her dog “Sophie” who led her on a path of learning and discovery. Rachel passionately explained how Sophie used to try and communicate with her but she did not listen because she didn’t know how. Rachel has developed her skills and business in light of Sophie’s legacy, educating others how to listen to and help their dogs.
On meeting Rachel, this deep seated passion, empathy and love for animals, especially dogs, was self-evident and this is what drew me to meet Rachel. She has taken her passion and turned it into her business in order to be able to help many more animals.
Some of the key benefits of Rachel’s approach to dog behaviour using AZ include deepening the connection between human and dog, creating positive change on a physical and emotional / behavioural level and learning to fine-tune listening skills to better understand a dog’s needs and behaviours.
Rachel explained that a dog’s selections are like ‘arrows’ pointing towards underlying issues and giving us hints as to what may be going on with a dog on a deeper physical and emotional level. AZ provides valuable information and assistance in helping dogs with behavioural problems such as anxiety (including separation anxiety and fear of loud noises), aggression, hyperactivity, etc. However it is important to remember that AZ is only part of the puzzle of optimising a dog’s health and well-being. It is important to question things and remain open when attempting to understand and resolve health and behavioural issues in dogs.
Many dogs with behavioural issues choose remedies that point towards and support underlying physical problems. This makes sense because an animal that does not feel well is vulnerable and therefore more likely to display anxiety and related behaviours.
Rachel emphasised that dogs are complex, especially when they are well trained and not used to expressing themselves and being listened to, instead obeying orders and following rules. Therefore many dogs find it difficult to express themselves. When working with AZ, well trained dogs often wait for permission from their owner before engaging with the remedies and it is important to make the dog feel safe so that it can trust and express itself freely.
Rachel explained to participants the signs that dogs display and the subtleties to look out for when working with the remedies. Check out this video of a dog clearly communicating to have a remedy applied topically.
When dogs have finished selecting and working with remedies they generally remove themselves from the area where remedies are being offered.
During the workshop Rachel worked with two dogs, Ella a 4 year old Springer Spaniel and Remmy an 8 month old Whippet. Ella had recently suffered from pancreatitis (this was important to note so that no fatty oils were offered to Ella) and Remmy had recently recovered from liver failure following a toxic insult from something he ate whilst out on a walk. Remmy also suffers from intermittent diarrhoea and struggles to maintain weight.
Both Ella and Remmy chose to consume plant powders high in vitamins and minerals, important for immune support. Spirulina was a particular hit with Ella who chose to share lots of green slobbery kisses with her less delighted owner. Both dogs went on to choose a variety of other remedies, including remedies that support the stomach and anti-bacterials.
It is amazing to watch a full AZ session with a dog, especially a dog like Remmy who was very excited and energetic at the start of the session. Towards the end of the session Remmy was passed out, barely able to keep his eyes open in a total state of relaxation. Most dogs fall asleep and are deeply relaxed at the end of a session, no matter how hyperactive or anxious they were at the start!
For more information about Rachel and her amazing work visit her website My Animal Matters.
For more information about using Applied Zoopharmacognosy stay tuned for my next blog entry!