This is a new feature - we have so many wonderful people at RoseHeart, it seemed a shame not to show off a bit. So we've included some articles about their work, what they learn and what you can learn from them. Enjoy!
Mary Gillen, of Mexico, (left), teaches reiki for animals at BMR Acres, an alpaca farm owned by Brian and Mary Ellen Rose in Canastota. The woman at right is Cheryl Garofalo of Cicero. She was learning reiki, which is said to help animals relax, relieve pain and stress.
Chanda can't express how relaxed she feels after a reiki session with practitioner Mary Gillen.But the female alpaca's calm, dark eyes and casual posture show that she has benefited from the treatment.
Gillen, of Mexico, is certified to teach and practice animal reiki. She administers the Japanese healing technique to help animals reduce stress, speed recovery and handle transitions. The practice, designed to balance the body's energy, is used in hospitals to decrease pain, improve sleep and appetite, and reduce side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
But Gillen said the therapy has also been successful with pets who are nearing the end of their lives, horses who have become skittish around people and rescued animals who are experiencing anxiety in their new homes. "The reiki energy will go wherever it is most needed," she said. "Generally, there's an improvement."
While alternative and holistic therapies aren't traditionally taught in veterinary schools because they are not based on scientific principles, most veterinarians don't discount their healing powers, said Andrea Looney, professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Looney, who practices acupuncture for animals with chronic pain, considers the treatments complementary to traditional techniques such as drugs, physical therapy and rehabilitation.
"The veterinary profession is behind (in acknowledging alternative treatments) -- as is the medical profession," Looney said. "We know they're worth something." Looney said the proof is as simple as the reaction an owner gets when caressing a pet or the feedback a farmer receives from rubbing his cows. "There's a positive energy," she said.
Central Square veterinarian Kathy Smith started offering traditional Chinese acupuncture therapy at Highland Animal Hospital in January and already has about 15 regular patients.
"It's not the answer to everything, but it is another way to help animals," she said. Smith said she focuses on acupuncture's long history and doesn't get hung up on the lack of traditional scientific evidence. "I don't think an entire society would continue to use something that didn't work for thousands of years," she said. "There are different ways of proving that something works." Smith, who has received weekly acupuncture treatments herself for the last year and a half, is studying other traditional Chinese healing practices, such as food therapy, herbal remedies and therapeutic massage. She's seen the therapy help dogs recover from traumatic injuries and regulate digestive problems in cats.
Mary Ellen Rose, owner of BMR Acres, an alpaca farm in the Madison County town of Sullivan, said reiki has helped to create a trusting and respectful atmosphere for her animals.
"Some farms only see their livestock as just that - livestock, and nothing more," she said. "We see each animal with their own personality, their own likes and dislikes, and each has to be handled and treated in their own way."
Alaina Potrikus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-3252.
What is reiki?
The International Reiki Web site explains that reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is practiced by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us. If our "life force energy" is low, we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy, according to the theory. The technique was developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Mikao Usui.
The term "reiki" is from two Japanese words: "rei," which means "God's wisdom or the higher power," and "ki," which is "life force energy." So reiki actually means "spiritually guided life force energy."
For more on reiki, visit: www.reiki.org.