Old Dog. New Tricks. Neuroplasticity WHAT???

July 11th, 2011

Paws for the Cause



As it turns out, you can teach an old dog new tricks.  That, along with a few other mind bending theories, will have you looking at your  retriever  in a whole new light.

We’ve all been made very aware, through bumper stickers and t shirts and our ever present catch phrases, that dog is in fact, man’s best friend; We also know  that we get quite a lot out of having our four legged pals around. Yes, dogs have the proven ability to emotionally and physically heal the sick in hospital settings, lower blood pressure when were under stress, provide care as service dogs and guard dogs and can even help us heal faster from mere physical contact with them. But even their mere presence can catalyze great health benefits. How is this possible?

Dogs are profound creatures; There is something about them, unseen, that draws us to their energy; that we intuitively connect with in an instant. Turns out, there are scientifically proven reasons for that

Dog’s have the innate ability to heal us on a very deep level.


Shamans, who work almost  solely on heart- mind instinct ( read Stephen Harrod Buhner’s work to blow your mind) and intuition (right brain), which is really just a function of the heart-mind itself ~  know the inner workings of plants as medicine, can communicate with them and heal through them because of this ability. Here’s a mind blowing, unacknowledged fact~ We all have this ability to connect to and heal through nature. Our connectivity to our dogs is a great example of this.

And so, in comes our 4 legged family members.

Yes, we feed them, water them, walk them, pet them, love them and anthropomorphize them to death, purely out of love, of course ~ but animals, dogs inclusive, are healers unto themselves.

As in every relationship we have in life where the teacher appears in the form of a partner, your dog is your teacher, your mirror, and can reflect back to you what is most prevalent an issue in your life. Is there aggression or fear present with your dog (often a sign of fear)? Are they startled easily? Do they have separation anxiety? Do they worry, attach to you, attack when others walk in the room? Are they timid and shy? Do they have no desire to play? Chew the furniture (Bored much)? Do they lead YOU?  And what is going on in your life? Can you make a parallel? Your dog will feed off of your energy, and ride the wave, until you decide to take the reigns, make a shift and change the tides.  Being the beautiful spirit guides that they are, they also know when to enter your life, and when to make the transition out of it. And in coping with this very difficult time, know that they are also around in spirit, to guide you once they have made their physical exit. In fact, they are more powerful than ever in this new space and time.

They serve a purpose for us, far beyond the scope of dinner companion, running mate, or makeshift pillow, although all are a lovely addition to our lives; in fact, necessary. But we have way more in common with our pups then favorite tv dinners and old reruns of the Dog Whisperer;

As humans, we function on left and right brain activity, although our modern world as stunted a great portion of our right brain capacity – our ability to remain in the present moment, creative, intuitive and tapped in to the Universal consciousness.

Your dog functions almost solely on right brain activity. They are creatures of the NOW; Not the past or the present. They function on intuition, not on logical (analytical, reductionist) thought process, which, let’s face it, gets us in more trouble than not half the time. A dog can sense a thunderstorm an hour away; they know when a massive natural disaster is about to occur and will run for the hills, while we remain behind wondering where they went, typing away furiously at that paper that was due two hours ago, and may not matter in one.

A dog’s capacity to engage intuition and access information coming at them from outside their own bodies and minds is an unfathomably important gift. And they are here to tap us into that knowing. We bi-pedals also have this gift~ in spades. Over years of left brain conditioning through our civilized existence and educational and social rituals, we have lost the strength in this muscle (Think right hand writing exercises, where lefties lost their ability to not only write how it came naturally to them, but a portion of their creative and intuitive gifts along with it by virtue of erasing the creative, left handed neural pathways ~ Chris Mcmanus, University College London; Right Hand, Left Hand, by Chris Mcmanus http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/research/lefthanded-research.html  ) The good news? We can rebuild it!

Ever heard of a brain science much studied but little heard of, called Neuroplasticity?; simply put, it’s the brain’s ability to act and re-act in ever changing ways, which allows us to regain the strength in our right brain by engaging and re engaging new neural pathways (Dr Mcihael Merzenich is the leading Neuro -scientist in the study of Neuroplasticity http://merzenich.positscience.com/?page_id=143  and check out Jill Bolte Taylor if you can handle the beauty of it all   http://www.mystrokeofinsight.com )

We tend to use the same neural pathways every single day, day in and day out. As the grooves get deeper along these pathways, our habits, belief systems and thought processes get more deeply engrained, like the grooves on a record player, and our scope of learning and growing decreases outside these parameters. Our right brain, which enhances creativity, intuition, , imagination, reconnection with earth and our space in it, our ability to detect imbalance in ourselves and those around us; our innate ability to heal ~ Can be rebuilt.

There is an energetic, non invasive  healing modality called Bodytalk, which works not only with humans, but animals of all types, to heal the body at the very core of our and their issues. It is a therapy that allows the body’s energy systems to be re-synchronized so they can operate as nature intended by focusing on the communications of the body at a cellular level, and reintegrating balance in those internal systems to heal anything from an emotional to physical, long standing or short term imbalance. It uses the intuitive and innate healing ability of your own body, to heal itself. The beautiful part of the therapy? It can be used on your dog. In fact, your dog can be used as an integrative part of the therapy to heal

them, yourself, your relationships or an unbalanced family dynamic. The dog is often a conduit to the owner, the child or the family as a whole. This is the power of your pooch, and a great example of the powerful connection we have to them.

We have a vast many connections with our K-9 friends. They bring life and light where there may not have been any. They are the furry embodiments of unconditional love and understanding. They are honorary creatures of the ‘no matter what’; a club we need to engage ourselves and our fellow man in more often as humans. They are teachers and guides, and we have more in common with them than we care to understand.

If we can honor them in this capacity, we have also honored our own ability to grow and evolve to our own full potential as humans.

So in the name of science and love and man’s best friend, you CAN, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks; thankfully for us, our four legged angels have a whole lot of patience.

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