The Calm After the Storm

The Calm After the Storm


When I opened the front door on the morning of the blizzard, I was facing a two- and-a-half-foot drift that ran all the way to the street. This did not faze Elika, my 19-pound mini American Eskimo, who adores snow, rolls in it, buries her head in it and runs. Elika leapt off the top step into the drift. She had, of course, miscalculated its depth. She sank down at least a foot, and then frantically paddled, trying to get back to the surface.

I quickly scooped her up, slung her on my shoulder, and made my way through the drift to the street. Although she doesn’t like being picked up, she patiently waited for me to do so again when we returned after our very short walk in the street.

I didn’t have the same luck with my horses. They’re only 10 minutes from home, on five acres I lease from an elderly couple. But I couldn’t get to them at all that day. They called to say that their quarter-mile, uphill driveway had three-foot drifts dotted along its length. Two neighbors had tried to clear it but couldn’t. Even if they could have, it wouldn’t have mattered. The county road hadn’t been plowed.

Distraught, I sat in my Reiki space at home and connected with my horses:  Fuersti and his sister, Tara. I could tell that Tara was upset—with the storm, with the disruption of her routine. I began to worry, but quickly stopped, reminding myself that worry never helps. Reiki helped to calm me, to calm Tara. Fuersti, who has always been the class clown, who is always telling physical jokes and playing tricks, surprised me by calmly repeating that I should not worry, that everything was OK. A few hours later, a neighbor was able to reach the barn with his snowmobile (after breaking and replacing a belt) and throw them hay.

I finally got to the barn the next morning (after trekking up a virtual mountain of snow). My Elika couldn’t come; I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to make it up the hill (and I was right), but she gave me that look (you know the one) when I left her behind. My horses were glad to see me (and their food), but they were clearly unsettled, skittish. A huge drift was blocking the back door of the barn, blocking their clear view of the paddock and pasture. They were reluctant to walk into the barn because of its closed-in, claustrophobic feel. They’d begin to walk in, heads high, eyes wide, and then run back out; walk in, go into their stalls, change their minds, run back out.

By evening, once the driveway had finally been plowed (with heavy, earth-moving machinery from the local orchard), Elika was able to come along, play in the barn, chew on frozen balls of manure (her favorite); seeing me for the second time that day, on schedule, Tara and Fuersti also began to settle back into their routine, eyes calm, tension gone from their bodies. They still didn’t like being in the barn, but they came in quietly and went into their stalls. All was forgiven, all was as it should be. It was as though the four of us had given a collective sigh of relief.

When my animal companions are OK, I’m OK. When I’m OK, my animal companions are OK.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well.

Can you share an experience, no matter how small, where you and an animal companion gave each other comfort?