Review by Toni Twist
For those of you like myself, juggling a business, spiritual life, relationship, house and fluffy babies, it can sometimes be a challenge to fit it all in and something tends to slip. As always the career was the thing that took over most of my time, luckily I worked with my dogs and partner, so they got plenty of time with me, but I was lacking that space and stillness, grounding and fulfilment that my spiritual life had provided me. I had been going 100 miles an hour for the last nine years since my business took off, and I was in much need of some balance.
It was the summer of 2017 when I happened upon a social media post from a lovely lady asking if there was anyone out there with a dog that would like to share a room and save some money at a Spiritual Dog Retreat. I think I had spent the months of that year leading up to that moment wishing there was such a thing, and in that moment the world stopped spinning and I found my feet.
The next month’s correspondence ended with a decision not to share rooms, and to book a place of my own, with one of my adorable three fluffy babies. It wasn’t a difficult choice, Badger my nine-year-old Northern Inuit, my bestest boy, my second in command at work, my therapist, best friend, and soul mate; we would share this break together, we were both in much need of it. I would discover my room was set in a beautiful old building named Cerridwen, after the goddess of transformation, and birth mother of Taliesin the greatest bard ever known, deep in the depths of green green wales, no phone or internet connection, work and family could not touch you here. There was no more an apt place for Caroline Griffith’s Spiritual Dog Retreat.
Each morning we were met by the smiling faces of the other ‘retreaters’, their friendly dogs and a nutritious vegan breakfast. With morning and evening guided meditations, and lessons on Balance Procedure, Canine Flow, and Dog Nutrition there was still plenty of time to find space to walk your dog through the beautiful fields and natural camping grounds that Cerridewn had to offer. Spending time wandering, breathing in the pure clean air of Wales, and allowing yourself to truly absorb all you had learnt, let it sink right in, and really become part of you. What more could you ask for?
It is amazing just exactly how much energy it takes to truly relax to the point where your body can start to realign itself and find its true natural balance. Each lunch and evening meal was greeted with a keen appetite that enjoyed every mouthful of the sumptuous vegan dishes laid out before us, and Caroline’s amazing raw cakes she makes need a special mention. Not only was I inspired by what I was learning, but also by what I was eating. The evenings were filled with smiles and conversations around the burning stove, watching the flames dance behind the glass, or watching an informative and inspiring film about grounding. I was grateful to slip into a comfortable bed at the end of the day and look forward to the next. The pace was slow like any retreat should be, but over all too quickly all the same. Caroline had transformed us all into more balanced, knowledgeable, refreshed beings, and our dogs thanked her for it. I left there inspired to become a Canine Flo practitioner myself and looking forward to learning more.
Over the following year, I introduced Guided Meditations into my Doggy Day Camp, to help the puppies find sleep at nap time with their human babysitter. The sitters were asked to just relax and listen to the meditations and told that we were ‘training’ the puppies to settle to the sound of the meditation. What was actually happening was that the human babysitter, who had in the past fussed over puppies who didn’t want to sleep, and added energy where it was least needed, were now guiding the puppies to sleep simply by relaxing themselves and being present.
I also transformed my diet, inspired to find tasty healthy vegan dishes, full of fresh vegetables I had grown myself, tripling the size of the vegetable patch I had had the year before. I even tried my hand at some delicious raw cakes. My dogs were already on a healthy raw diet of real food, but I was inspired all the more to educate owners to move their dogs onto healthier diets. Making the information easier to understand and becoming a supplier to help the source become more easily available.
Whenever I had the opportunity to stop and meditate, images of myself running ‘Relax Classes’ would come to mind and I promised myself; that day would come. I was a dog trainer who didn’t like training, there were enough dog trainers out there in a very catty world, I liked my one-to-ones, but classes no longer held interest for me. There were already plenty of trainers focusing on getting dogs to ‘Do’ things, there were plenty of behaviourists out there delving deeper into psychological problems of how dogs were ‘thinking’ about things, but no one really focusing on how dogs were ‘feeling’ emotionally and being affected and translating the energy vibrations around them. I was now more focused on what a dog was feeling than what it was doing. When dogs seemed over-excited or a little stressed at daycare, I was now looking at the energies of the humans caring for them, and seeing the direct links, changing the human had a direct effect on the dogs’ behaviour. It was something I had been practising for years without consciously realising what I was doing. I could now see how items such as balls, toys and gates were being charged with energy, and how one dog’s need to try to ground another dog’s energy was the reason for their actions.
One of the greatest eye openers is when you realise a scent is a vibration, and that the stronger the smell the stronger the vibration, this suddenly reveals a whole flood of information to you, providing many answers. I had known it was there before and tried to find a way to explain it to the team, now I had some words to help me communicate it, but I needed more. Being able to teach an owner how to communicate with their dog, and teach their dog what these strange words mean, so they can understand their owner, is of course important to us as our species are mainly verbal communicators, but the number of words we teach and the constant management of what your dog is doing, is an unnecessary and overbearing control. So much of our communication between species is done silently by body language and other subconscious means, many owners will swear their dogs are telepathic, if this is the case why are others trying so hard to control their dogs through micromanagement.
I am a qualified trainer with qualified dog behaviourist as a partner and as a hobby as well as for our careers, we have attended many workshops, seminars and conferences in the last years. Sometimes it feels like I am overflowing with information on knowledge, facts, figures, and methods on how to analyse behaviour and how to make changes to what your dog is doing, but it all seems to over complicate something and still not find a solid solution, it’s almost like they seem to be missing a whole area of information to complete their analysis and understanding. I had become acutely aware that they had all been focusing on what dogs were doing and thinking and not what they were feeling. Over recent years there had been such an uproar and motion against ‘anthropomorphsim’, against dogs looking, acting or feeling like humans that it had blocked even the most intelligent of those studying dogs to see the connection of the animals behaviour with that of their owner. Some had got close, but had come across stumbling blocks as this ‘rule’ had got in their way, it seemed like they were all walking around with blinkers on. Renowned authors of books used as reading materials in qualifications could be found to get so close to the understanding of the charge and dispersion of energy, but fumble at the last steps.
Canine Flow filled the gaps. It explained how a charge of energy could be raised, conducted, dispersed, and grounded and how the canine world was sensitive to this energy, constant receivers absorbing and grounding this energy around them. Suddenly with the knowledge of energy flow; unexpected, sometimes abrupt, or confusing behaviours could be understood and explained. Dogs are receivers of energy, translating that into behaviours, if you have an unwanted behaviour, you do not look to change what the dog is doing, you look to find the source of energy it is receiving, you look for the flow. If you can change the energy flow before the dog feels it, the dog will not need to react to it. Some energy you can not change, it comes from the environment around you, but an understanding of it helps you understand your dog, or avoid things before they happen. Others you can see charging and you have an influence to intervene and disperse or remove that charge from the situation, but much of the energy our dogs respond to, is in ourselves. Totally within our control if we can but become aware of it. If you do not understand the vibrational energies that are within yourself you are missing out on understanding an entire conversation going on between you and your dog which results in them being the dog they are, when they are with you.
It is September 2018, I have not long returned from my second Transformational Dog Retreat, run by the Spiritual Dog Trainer, Caroline Griffiths, completing my second stage towards becoming a Canine Flow Practitioner. I have just spent a wonderful week, with a group of wonderfully sensitive, diverse, spiritual people, seeking time with their dogs and others who have similar sensitive souls. The chance to learn something new in the dog world, from the spiritual side, gaining knowledge, of that unseen by most naked eyes, to find explanation for that seen but not totally understood, to transform oneself to find further enlightenment and transcend into the spiritual understanding of the dog world. and in the least, to have spent precious time away from the mad rushing world, with this time, my nine-year-old Northern Inuit girl, my wild instinctual huntress and cuddly teddy bear; Honi I look forward to my next one.
This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.