The Twelve Days of Wellness Day Eleven: Connection with Nature

by Dr. Isla Fishburn (reprinted with author's permission)

Canine wellness.

Canine wellness is about physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health of your dog. In order to maintain balance in your dog as a WHOLE organism, we have to observe and analyse several aspects of your dog’s life from before birth to present day. Over the next 12 days of wellness I will introduce you to some of the concepts of wellness, what these include and what we need to consider on a daily basis to optimise the health and longevity in our dogs.

Today, we are going to look at a CONNECTION WITH NATURE.

Many of us don’t think it, but a large part of optimising anyone’s wellness is allowing time to be out in nature. Being in the outdoors is one of the most healing environments you can experience.

Wild animals are at an advantage, because they live in nature and are always surrounded by her healing power and energy. They are not faced with the stressors and components (e.g. electrical devices and electromagnetic fields) that can cause physical, mental, emotional and energetic imbalances to both our domestic animals and us. Wild animals are also allowed to show their natural behaviour, which some dogs are denied. Next, we have those animals that tend to live outdoors; livestock, domestic fowl and horses. Whilst restricted in where they are allowed to roam, they still have more access and more time out in nature. Then, we have our dogs (as well as some other domestic animals) who are more often than not governed by their human guardian in deciding what type of environment and for how long they spend time in it. We even have some dogs who are not walked at all and spend their days locked up in back yards. You can already feel how draining (and disrespectful) this is for that animal.

Providing opportunities for your dog (and you) to be out in nature allows time for your dog to be itself. S/he can express their natural behaviours, address certain needs and give your dog a sense of freedom that is so important for their wellness. It takes your dog back to an environment that is natural and part of your dog’s (as well as your own) ancestry. Nature provides a calming, healing and relaxing effect on the overall wellness of your dog. Nature allows your dog to search, seek, sniff and play in the elements. I am never terribly keen on taking a dog in to manmade environments that can be too over-stimulating with its many lights, sounds and rushed energy. Such environments are attention-grabbing in a forced and dramatic way and require much focus. These environments are more draining and provide less healing.

One advantage that your dog has when out in nature is that s/he will be receiving more effective healing than what a typical human would be given in that your dog’s bare feet make direct contact with Mother Earth. Research shows that there are many positive health and healing effects from having direct physical, bare skin contact with the Earth. In fact, there has been a growing interest in bare foot walking, which I encourage you to do, but perhaps wait until the summer time! It is something that I often do with my dogs in the summer months and I definitely feel a stronger connection with Mother Earth and a greater sense of peace and tranquility.

In order to support your dog’s wellness, or improve it, being connected with nature is a necessity. Take your dog out for the day to a place where it is only you and him/her. Make time to explore all of nature; her smells, her sounds, her textures, her colours and even her tastes if you so desire. Go out and explore with your dog in all seasons and times of the day, as nature offers different things in every season. Allow your dog to be free with the elements and express their natural behaviour, allowing for healing time with the greatest medicine of all: nature.