Roxy is a Catahoula, a canine breed known for hunting. Besides this, Roxy is also extremely protective of her territory. She takes this job very seriously and nor a coyote or mountain lion is allowed on her mountain. She remains on duty, and I have never seen her play like other dogs with toys or sticks. Until one day.
I was in the round pen with a horse working with a client. I recognized she was disconnected from her feelings and veered into over-analyzing the nature of fun. The horse stood quietly and seemed completely disinterested in the process, because horses naturally respond to “feeling” rather than to “thinking”. Gently I started guiding my client with questions to elicit the “feeling”. Suddenly, Roxy came into the round pen with a stick in her mouth and rolling on the ground started playing with it. Another animal in the round pen – I’ll take it! I brought my client’s awareness to the dog immediately. “What is she doing?” I asked. It took a few moments, and then her face softened as she felt the playfulness of the dog. The horse felt it too and joined the client right away, shooing away the dog. Roxy, in return, gave a short bark as if to say “Then do your work!” before leaving the round pen. My client then spent the rest of the session with the horse, whose powerful presence aided her in re-discovering her fun side.
And that’s how Roxy became an official member of the healing herd.