Making Canine Friends
In all the years I spent in the pet industry, I have only been attacked by one dog.
Early in my career I had been walking past a Dog Trainer, Donna and her German Shepherd, Rika when I remembered that I wanted to ask Donna a question. I turned abruptly and took a few steps toward the handler. As I approached her I spoke loudly over the noise of a crowded retail store and simultaneously outstretched one of my arms to greet Rika.
In the next instant I felt a hard thud to my chest. I looked down to peer into focused, protective canine eyes and felt completely powerless. I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat as I felt her large paws against my sides. I fell back in fear which only further motivated her to posture against me.
Donna was quick to control her protective pup. Luckily the dog was equipped with a basket muzzle and aside from a startling hit to the chest, I walked away unscathed. After my heart rate returned to a normal cadence and my mind cleared, I couldn’t help but take some responsibility for the occurrence.
Concerned that she was not social enough to be in a crowded store I observed her body language and behavior as she interacted with other people. My observations prompted me to think about how human beings make use of senses differently than dogs.
For us, our primary sense is sight. We often subscribe to a “You have to see it to believe it”, mentality. When I’m home alone and hear a noise somewhere in the distance, I might sit up and look around for the source. Unless I actually see the cause of the sound, I’ll dismiss it entirely and forget it ever happened. We heavily rely on sight along with a need to immediately touch that which we see, making it all the more real and helping us to define it.
With dogs, it seems their primary sense is smell.
While watching Rika I noticed a consistent pattern of behavior when meeting dogs and pet parents. When dogs meet, they sniff each other. When we meet dogs, they sniff us. Anything we offer them, they smell prior to accepting it.
I recall a time a few years back when I came home to a dark house. Upon entering, the three dogs that comprised our canine security system barked a deafening alarm through the darkness. Once inside, I turned on a light. My black Lab, Sobek stood ten feet away, staring directly at me, yet continued to bark.
Above his barks, I yelled, “Sobek, it’s me!”
My Lab sniffed the air. His barking now gone, his thick, black tail whipped back and forth at the air happily as he approached me. As I rubbed his chest, he licked my hand.
Sobek’s instinct of alarming the pack of an intruder was so prominent that even a visual of me was not enough to alter his warning barks. However, once he caught my familiar scent, he felt at ease. With taste being the secondary sense to smell, he then licked my hand.
I watched as pet parents allowed Rika to approach them. They held treats in their hands and offered it after Rika gently nudged their fists.
Over the years in the pet industry, I have encountered hundreds if not thousands of dogs at weekend events and visits to shelters. Upon meeting them for the first time, I allowed them to approach me, sniff my scent and then nudge me with their nose or lick my hand or face. Once they displayed a favorable reaction to my presence, it was then I offered a treat or chest scratch.
This technique kept the muzzles out of my chest and made for a favorable dog encounter. To me, it appeared that pooch kisses are used for both shows of affection and identification purposes.
I learned a valuable lesson from Rika with regard to how to safely approach dogs, especially those outside of their normal environment.
Several years later I met yet another German Shepherd named, Rika. During a casual conversation with her pet parent I learned that Rika is a Germanic name that means powerful protector. No argument there.
The Monster Under the Bed
I was twelve years old when my bed levitated itself.
It was close to ten o’clock on a school night when I decided to go to sleep and was immediately joined by the family dog, Patches.
As usual, she found a spot at the foot of the bed and curled into a ball.
My bedroom was located at the top of the mauve, shag carpeted stairs.
Mine was the first bedroom at the beginning of a hallway that led to all the other sleep rooms.
I’ve never fallen asleep quickly, so I was wide awake a few minutes later when the bed suddenly elevated a few inches off the floor.
While suspended in mid-air, it wobbled slightly. I froze in terror, and the next few seconds felt more like minutes. Feelings of severe angst and confusion consumed me. It was similar to when you fly in a plane or take a ride on a roller coaster. It was a helpless sensation, but there weren’t any safety mechanisms in place, and this wasn’t a carnival ride. I could see Patches lift her head, prompted by the elevated and unstable motion.
After hovering for two to three seconds, the bed dropped hard and fast, back down to the floor. Patches jumped up and yelped a short, startled cry. My limbs shifted on their own, which provided me proof of my recent movement. Desperate to understand the obvious infraction of physics law, my mind frantically searched for a rational explanation. Simultaneously, I worked to hold back a panic attack by taking in deep breaths and slowly exhaling.
As if on cue, my older brother appeared in my open doorway. Having just walked up the stairs on his way to his bedroom, he stopped and asked, “What was that noise?”
Unable to collect my thoughts and formulate a response, while still trying to regulate my breathing, I simply looked at him. I imagined that my eyes were wide open. I must have had a mixture of confusion, disbelief and fright expressed on my face.
Growing up, I think most big brothers find their younger siblings strange and mostly uninteresting. I’m confident his perception was no exception. A look of wide-eyed terror would simply be another “weird little brother” moment and hardly worth the effort of investigation. He flashed me an eye roll, and then disappeared down the hallway. In hindsight, it was doubtful that he would have believed that the thud he heard as he climbed the stairs was actually my bed landing on the floor.
In shock, I remained motionless for another few minutes until the majority of my panic subsided and I finally found the courage to move. I sat up and looked around my small room.
The silence was eerie as I scanned the room for anything out of the ordinary. The closet door was open, and nothing but a filing cabinet and shoes looked back at me. Continuing my investigation, I confirmed that the window remained shut and was locked. That left just one obvious place to look: under the bed.
I leaned over the side of the mattress and allowed my head to hang down so that my view of the small space between the bed frame and the floor was upside down.
The light coming in from the open door provided just enough illumination to see through the dark space. I ran my hand along the carpet. It was cold. One more swipe of my extended arm resulted in my fingertips brushing against a soft piece of fabric. Assuming it was the match to one of my many, lonely socks, I pulled it out from underneath the bed.
I’ve always had a thing for, what I now refer to as, classic rock: The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, etc.
A close second musical favorite was heavy metal, in particular, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne.
Previously, my parents had reluctantly purchased an Ozzy tapestry and fulfilled my Christmas gift request. The tapestry was nothing more than a large handkerchief, adorned with images of Ozzy and his album covers. I would later see them at fairs and carnivals and understand that they were homemade, silkscreened products.
I held the square piece of fabric with both hands and sat up on the edge of my bed. My eyes inspected the tapestry as if I was going to see something on it that I hadn’t before. The hallway light streaming through the door was no longer sufficient for my intense scrutiny, so I stood up, took a few steps toward the switch and flipped on the light. The instant illumination filled the room and I gasped at the edges of the kerchief. Each corner displayed an identical tack hole. Remembering that it had been hanging on my pre-teen wall, adjacent to soccer and football posters, I looked at the area above my bed.
Kids have the luxury of still believing in magic, Santa and in my case, a consistent, winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. Perhaps it was this naivety that kept me from sprinting from the room, as I stared at the four tacks on the wall that once held up the tapestry.
Nope, there weren’t any tears in the corners of the handkerchief. It clearly hadn’t been pulled down and I couldn’t determine how it found its way off of my wall with the tacks remaining in place, only to be discovered beneath my bed.
After pulling the thumb tacks from the wall, I hung my Ozzy “artwork” back in place. My careful placement utilized the same tack holes in a concerted effort to deter the inevitable rants of my father regarding the insurmountable damage that tacks and push-pins inflict on wood paneling.
Later, in early adulthood as I studied metaphysics, I would recall the specific images on the kerchief. Hazy and, most likely, unlicensed pictures of Ozzy in concert that were undoubtedly taken from magazines, adorned the corners, with random upside-down crosses filling the outer ring. The center boasted a large star that I would later understand to be a pentagram.
For those wondering, the juxtaposition of a satanic bandana as a Christmas present is not lost on me.
Angels Among Us
- What do you think of when you repeatedly notice three fives appear almost everywhere you go? Perhaps they are winning lottery numbers to be played? Maybe it’s the time of day that promises a significant event? For many, 555 is a very important warning and perhaps the most life altering message that angels can provide.
It is widely believed that our spirit guides and overseeing angels dwell on another plane of existence. Therefore, outside of the dream state, communication to us can be a challenge. During our sleep, angels will pull from our own experience and personal lexicon to convey messages that may contain direction, vital information that will assist us with future decisions and even warnings of upcoming events that can include unpleasant occurrences on the horizon.
Human beings have always been consumed by the number 3. In religion, it represents the holy trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. We consider three to be lucky and have worn, quite thin, the old adage that “the third time’s a charm”. In literature, a genie rubbed from a lamp will grant you three wishes. With regard to movies, a sequel is no longer sufficient time to convey the continuing story and is often not considered concluded until a trilogy has been filmed.
The most common occurrences of three numbers considered messages from our guardian angels are seen on license plates, hotel doors, phone numbers, purchase receipts, advertising and most certainly, clocks.
111 through 555 as times on a clock occur twice daily. Some skeptics will argue that we simply happened to look at our watch or wall clock during those times. They may be half right. While we may not consciously understand why we looked for the current time at that precise moment, it is quite in the realm of believability that we were gently nudged to direct our attention to the displayed time in hopes of recognizing an important message.
So, what do these repeating numbers actually mean?
The repeated appearance of 111 is helpful on two fronts. One, it warns of a pessimistic and negative outlook resulting in an overall bad attitude. This is often a personality trait that others do not enjoy experiencing outside of themselves and can create isolation and a loss of social friendship. Two, we create our reality through our emotion. What we project outward comes back to us. We often hear people complain that bad things always happen to them and they always expect the worst. Their life circumstances provide the expected negativity and the cycle continues. In short, seeing 111 is an urging to choose a positive outlook and favor optimism over pessimism.
When the numbers 222 flash themselves to you in various places, smile, because life is going as planned. Simply put, you are being told that you are on the right path and heading in the right direction with regard to your spiritual plan. Rejoice, for you have obviously made decisions that align with your overall goals. Even if you are currently experiencing some heartache or stress, 222 tells you that you will emerge exactly where you need to be. Consider your current state a temporary rough patch and watch for the sun breaking out from behind the storm clouds.
If the number 3 carries strength then how powerful is the display of 333? Would you consider being surrounded by angels and ascended masters a powerful experience? Me, too.
The numbers 333 confirms the loving presence of our spirit guides and guardian angels. They are surrounding you with love and light. Thus, ensuring you that they have indeed heard your prayers and pleas for assistance. While they cannot interfere with your free will, they are standing beside you and behind you in support of your endeavors and offering strength and guidance during your struggles.
The numbers 444 can appear to you during times of important decision-making and related confusion. Seeing 444 is the angel’s reminder to listen to intuition and follow your instincts to ensure you proceed down your desired path. They are asking you to align your energy and your vibration with their frequency and maintain the connection to receive their guidance and support. They ask that you mediate, pray and open yourself to their presence to receive their offerings.
Finally, if you see the numbers 555 repeatedly appear throughout your day, there is one good piece of advice you should heed: buckle up and hold on. The observation of 555 translates to an angelic message that major changes are on their way. I asked my friend, Grant, to describe his recent experience with the repeated sightings of the three numbers and his subsequent life changes.
“For about three months, I saw 555 everywhere.” Grant explained. “I woke up at 5:55am several times a week. While on a trip, my hotel assigned me room number 555. Small purchases often totaled $5.55. After a while, I didn’t question that it meant something; I just didn’t know what it could mean.”
Confused, Grant’s life seemed to continue as normal until May 5th, 2015 when he was laid off from his job of over fifteen years. He lost his position, company car, health insurance and soon after, his best friend. Making the connection of the date of May 5th, 2015 as 5-5-15 that contained three fives, he searched the internet for the number’s meaning.
“When I read that seeing 555 was the angel’s message to prepare for major upcoming changes, I felt a tingle go through my body. The truth in it resonated with me.” He sighed and arched an eyebrow. “I just wish I had found that out before the ground fell out from beneath me.”
Grant had not considered that the numbers he was repeatedly seeing held spiritual meaning. Today, he is very much open to their presence.
“They were looking out for me and trying to help me prepare for a major shift in the direction of my life. I missed that call but now, I’m all ears, rather, eyes.”
After hearing Grant’s story, I promised myself that when I noticed a repeated sequence of numbers that I would stop and take note. Maybe before I played them in a lottery, I’d gamble on an angelic message instead.
Hay-Man’s Creepy Origin
For centuries scarecrows have been erected in fields across the world. Their singular purpose is to deter birds from steeling seed and feeding on growing crops. Also called a hay-man, it is comprised mostly of straw stuffed inside a shirt and pants. Sitting atop a high pole or wooden stick, the wind whips and wildly flails the arm sleeves, thus giving it the allusion of life. A large straw hats tops the display that completes the crude human replica.
To birds, they appear human. To humans, they are nothing short of creepy. While no one knows for sure who actually created the very first scarecrow, there is one tale that is as disturbing as the faceless hay-man itself.
Ever the innovators, ancient Egyptians used a wooden frame covered in a net to protect their wheat fields from invasive quail. Their tactic was two-fold as they would hide in the fields and chase the quail into the nets which later provided a meal.
During one season, the crops yielded much less wheat than anticipated. The Egyptians feared that they had angered the gods in some way and were being punished. Eventually, speculation fell to the flocks of quail that were being trapped and eaten.
Quail immediately became a protected bird in ancient Egypt and those found to have hunted and eaten them would be sentenced to death.
However, the Egyptians didn’t place all of their hope for a prolific crop in the kindness of their deities. With quail free from being hunted, they needed more effective deterrents. Thus, dozens of lifelike scarecrows were placed on frames and above the crop line. The netting draped across the wooden frames was replaced with a sagging body wrapped in human clothing. A head covered in papyrus rested to one side as two arms and two legs dangled beneath.
For years the invasive quail avoided the fields and the crops yielded bountiful wheat. The Egyptian people sang the praises of kind deities as food was again plentiful.
Finally, an Egyptian field worker discovered the terrifying truth behind the quail’s retreat from the wheat fields and the subsequent abundance in wheat. On a day with particularly strong winds, the wrapping around one of the scarecrow’s heads whipped by the wind fell to the ground. The preserved face of a familiar man known to have been executed for hunting quail to feed his hungry family looked down at him.
The worker looked across the field at the dozens of scarecrows poised in the same position. A sea of death cloaked in limestone to mask the smell of decay stretched as far as he could see. He dropped to his knees to pray for the hay-men and for the gods to have mercy on their souls.
The Language of Dreams
For decades, Universities have conducted independent sleep studies to research and document individual’s dreams and perhaps more importantly, determine what they mean.
Unfortunately, the data collected is saturated with variables: the proverbial pebbles in the shoes of scientific studies. For instance, in 2014, a six month study of 100 adult men and women found that while most people report dreaming in color, over 20% claim to dream in black and white. Also, varying degrees of dream activity from several to just one dream each night are reported with a small percentage claiming they do not dream at all. Additionally, the majority of people surveyed claim they awaken from their dreams with residual emotion, both positive and negative, while some people say their dreams lack any emotional resonance, whatsoever. The most conclusive yet inconclusive finding is that dreaming occurs during the REM state of sleep, although not all REM states seem to produce dreams, or at least a memory of their occurrence isn’t always retained.
Those who did recall their dreams more than often described the images as fragmented. Despite the lack of clarity, many felt convinced that their dreams contained significant symbolism, even if they did not understand the message. Often reporting that the scenes in their dreams jump from one event to another as if watching a badly edited movie, they sensed a streaming story but usually lacked the details to connect the dots to clearly define the plot.
It’s been suggested that dreams offer insight to our emotional state and help to show us how we truly perceive ourselves. Famed psychiatrists, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung often assigned meanings to dream symbols that their patients reported seeing in their dreams. One of the most common reported was that of a snake of which Freud and Jung’s definition differed from one another. Freud, ever on the hunt for a phallic symbol, felt the snake represented a man to whom the dreamer was either threatened by and/or sexually attracted. Jung’s interpretation suggested growth and transformation, citing a snake’s ability to shed its skin.
Perhaps they are both correct and dream symbolism is not entirely a universal language.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had both frequent and vivid dreams. Over the years and still today, I’ve experienced recurring dreams and endured countless, terrible nightmares that robbed me of much needed rest. Cruelly, I was often left with haunting images in my mind while I tried to function in the waking world.
I struggled to understand the meaning behind the invasive images forced into my short term memory. Assuming dreams are a product of our subconscious where our intuition and “gut feelings” reside, it seemed a prudent move to pay attention and at least attempt to understand their meaning. Ideally, to truly comprehend something’s meaning, one should know its language, specifically the language of symbols.
There is little argument that dreams are conveyed using a combination of images both strange and familiar and there may be an explanation for the content’s duality.
The earliest known writing system dates back to approximately 8,000 BC and is referred to as Sumerian cuneiform. The written language was a collection of pictographs and other symbols that were initially used to represent livestock and trade goods on clay tablets. Soon, the glyphs defined not only an object, but a sound and eventually a word. Thus, a language was born.
Symbols proved to be a fast and effective method of communication for early man. Embedded in our DNA, the ancient form of conveying messages surfaces from deep within our subconscious while the rational, prose-ruled brain takes somewhat of a backseat.
Maura Goldstein took part in a clinical dream study in 2011 at a local University in her home state of California. When asked about the categorization of dreams, she replied, “I believe they utilize our individual lexicons, or our personal definitions for symbols to give us messages. There are three different kinds: release dreams, memories and premonitions.”
Release: “There is no shortage of sources of anger, frustration and sadness in our daily lives. Many of these patience-robbing moments however go unresolved as we suppress our inclination to react in favor of choosing to avoid a confrontation with another or telling ourselves that maddening events occur and we should just “roll with it”. The suppression of emotion can be dangerous and surface at inopportune times, sometimes misdirected at those very undeserving of its expression. Dreams help release the feelings we keep buried to assist in a more balanced, emotional state.”
Memories: “The mind often blocks very old and even uncomfortable memories. But, the subconscious demands we face our fears and deal with them. Additionally, while the brain knows this lifetime, the subconscious can travel back to our previous lives and show us events that may have significant importance to who and what we are today. The dreams we have of strangers and odd places are often memories from another incarnation.”
Premonitions: “Time doesn’t exist in the subconscious state. It has the ability to see both backward and forward in time. Dreams that display events that have not occurred are often future events. Of course, once we obtain the knowledge of their occurrence, we can alter their manifestation. These dreams can be wonderfully enlightening by alerting us as to a particular path we may not even know we are on and thus, enable us to make changes for our benefit.”
The language of dreams or more accurately, our dreams of language, continue to mystify and intrigue us as we endeavor to understand their meaning. The images that present themselves are very much required reading that begs for comprehension. Whether or not you believe they are indeed messages intended for you, it certainly can’t hurt to listen to them.