ORIENTAL – I wasn’t sure how to start this story. “Meet Michelle Rodgriguez, the dog whisperer.” Or: “The (dog) strength is strong with this woman.” But both seem a bit frivolous for a woman who puts so much heart and soul into her holistic treatments for dogs and other animals that are stressed out or in pain.

Rodriguez is a certified animal Reiki practitioner.

Reiki – it is pronounced Ray-Kee – is a 2000 year old Japanese spiritual practice with roots in the Shinto religion. According to Reiki.org, “Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by the “laying on of hands” and is based on the idea that an invisible “life energy” flows through us and makes us alive. “

Spiritually, it is associated with such healing arts as acupuncture and chiropractic, she said, but unlike those arts, it is completely non-invasive. “It’s not a massage,” she said. “They also open the blockages in the body, but they do it with needles or manipulations. But when you’re doing Reiki – (the patient) may have a broken leg – don’t touch it (in a way that would hurt).

“What it does,” she added, “brings some peace to the animal’s soul.”

Rodriguez, who has been practicing for 15 years – the first ten in Arizona, the last five in Oriental – said people have a hard time understanding the concept. “It’s a spiritual practice, but it’s not a religion,” she said. The method is widely used in the western US, but is not so well known, especially for animals here in the east. “It’s accepted in the West like drinking tea,” she said. “Nobody here understands.”

Rodriguez uses Reiki primarily on dogs, although it can be used on any animal, and she often takes care of cats and horses as well. It works for pets that are sick, arthritic, or otherwise in pain – and also for pets in end-of-life situations. It treats pain and tension through relaxation.

While Rodriguez trained in veterinary engineering school, she emphasizes that she is not a doctor and that while Reiki helps a pet heal and feels calm, it is unable to heal sick animals. “I’m not taking the place of a veterinarian,” she said. “If someone calls and says their dog is injured or in pain and they don’t know what to do, I tell them to see a vet first.”

In her practice – Healing Touch Animal Reiki – she takes care of pets in their own four walls. She said she would start with a first visit to meet the pet. Treatment does not proceed at the same pace for all animals – it depends in part on the animal’s temperament and situation. “I sometimes use visual cues,” she said when she met a pet. She notices the dog’s expression, how active it is, what it communicates with its eyes and body.

She asks the owners in which part of the house the dog feels most comfortable and works there. “I’m sitting in a yoga position and testing how close I can get to the pet.” She works slowly to gain the animal’s confidence and begin treatment.

“All animals, you need their permission,” she said. “You need her okay.”

As soon as she is sure of the animal’s well-being, she begins to stroke it and watch its expression. “If all is well, I will start the treatment. It’s a gentle touch. When they relax, they start licking their lips. Your breathing relaxes. “

She touches certain places on the body – she showed me a map of a dog with these places marked with colored circles, and she reminded me of those acupuncture cards in old oriental texts.

She said the relaxation that gives her energy often spreads to other animals – and even people – in the home.

Rodriguez believes that Reiki could save animal shelters and prevent the affected animals from being rehabilitated based on their behavior. She has treated abused dogs in animal shelters in the past and hopes to work with local animal shelters as she grows her business.

“Human Reiki workers are everywhere,” she said. “They are in the hospice, in the hospitals.” And she sees that people are starting to accept her too. They don’t necessarily understand what she’s doing, she noted, but they are very happy with the results.

Rodriguez has gone out of his way to keep her business going while the Pamlico and Craven communities adapt to what it has to offer. But she’s working to get her message out there and build her career. “If you have a passion or a calling,” she said, “that’s what you do. The hard times won’t stop me from giving the animals what they need. “

Rodriguez can be contacted at 602-690-9919.

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