Last week a wonderful group of people and dogs came together at Fourstones to discover what zoopharmacognosy is and what benefits it might offer to the animals in our care. We had participating dogs and some “onlookers”, the lovely borzoi Lara and elkhounds (I think that was the first time that I had either of those breeds present at courses). The beauty of teaching such courses is that the people who come really do want to be there, and are anxious to learn as their main concern is how they can enhance and improve the wellbeing of their animals.
The dogs are our best teachers and they certainly made us aware that they do know what they need and are capable of choosing it for themselves. Fear, anxiety and suspected movement issues were the main concerns and their choices were clear and highly indicative.
We did one session when all the other participants had left as the dog in question, who had been kept tied up in a dark space for 8 months with no socialisation, was extremely fearful, particularly of people, and suspicious of new environments. However, even during the course of his short session he managed to come out from under his carer’s seat, stand up and look at me. The fearful expression in his eyes at the start gradually melted and he could accept my gaze without flinching. In his favour is his innate curiosity and real desire to be a part of the world. His foster family is quite exceptionally committed and I have not doubt that he will eventually find his own forever home. Unfortunately the only photo I managed to take of him is too blurred to include on this post! Did someone say that the photographer’s skills leave something to be desired?