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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. July's Theme: "Attitude"
Volume 7 Issue 5 ISSN# 1708-3265

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by Jean Hofve, DVM

Attitude affects everything, at least in the human world. Our basic attitudes determine, in large part, how we lead our lives, and what happens to us. A positive, happy attitude tends to attract good things, while a sour or negative attitude tends to manifest unpleasant situations. This is just the law of attraction at work.

But what about animals? Scientists are still debating whether or not animals can think, let alone get in the sort of mental rut, a habit of thought, that we could call attitude.

On the other hand, I can tell you from my years of veterinary experience, that one species is so renowned for being stubborn and opinionated, we have a special name for its outlook on life: "Cattitude."

But attitude is not limited to cats. Recently, a friend remarked about the horse who won the Kentucky Derby. He said, "That horse had a very different attitude about the race. While all the other horses were really keyed up, Super Saver seemed to think it was no big deal." That's the attitude of a winner—it apparently never occurred to the colt that he wouldn't win!

Dogs recognize attitude in other dogs. For example, our neighbors had 4 large huskies and a dachshund named Ralph. Which dog was the leader of the pack? Little Ralph. It's the top dog's confident attitude that rules the day. Or, as the old saying goes, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

If we're observant, we can see that some animals do have certain attitudes. There are inborn traits that will determine that animal's behaviours and responses.

But when we humans are dealing with animals, we need to recognize that our companion animals mostly reflect our attitudes. Pets are also very good at taking on our "stuff," and working through both physical and emotional issues on our behalf. Sometimes they become very ill from this; sometimes they cannot survive with it. So it surely behooves us to set the example; we're the grownups in the relationship, after all!

Of course that is all easier said than done. But two unique and useful ideas about how to accomplish it have recently come up for me, and I'd like to share.

The first one is "The Happiness Project." The book chronicles writer Gretchen Rubin's journey as she investigates ways to be happier in her life. What makes this book unusual is that the author already had a perfectly satisfactory life: a great husband, great children, enjoyable work, and all the trappings that Western society considers needful or even just preferable. But one day she started wondering if she was as happy as she could be… realized she wasn't… and gave herself a year to "get happy." The philosophy is right out of Abraham, The Secret, and the myriad others who teach the Law of Attraction. But the techniques she tries and the lessons she learns are helpful tools for staying more focused on the good things—which of course brings more good things! You don't even have to buy the book (though it is quite well written); the website is interactive and loaded with helpful ideas.

The second concept is "A Complaint-Free World." There is also a book that goes with this, but unless you're a freakazoid about details like I am, the general rule of "no complaining, no criticizing, and no gossip" will be enough for you. The key to this one is wearing a purple silicon bracelet (like Lance Armstrong's yellow "Livestrong" ones) and moving it from one wrist to the other whenever you violate the no-complaining rules. It only counts if you say it out loud—so think whatever thoughts you want about the government, crazy drivers, co-workers, or whatever… just don't let it escape your lips!

Personally, I have a great life… nevertheless, I tend to carry on a rather sarcastic verbal dialog with traffic, the TV, the weather, my cats… so this is quite a challenge! (But I'm not complaining!) They say it takes 4-8 months to make it the suggested 21 days without complaining. But even just starting out, it pretty quickly gets you paying attention to what you say, and this somehow forces your inner dialog into more positive channels. Again, it's just another way to manifest the Law of Attraction, perhaps even more directly.

When our hour-to-hour, day-to-day attitudes are more positive, guess what? The animals around us (including the human ones) will respond! My four cats, who have some significant "sibling rivalry" issues, have actually become calmer since I quit hollering at the TV news. I even had a really pleasant drive through rush-hour traffic last night, despite the impending snowstorm and wearing sunglasses rather than glasses (since they were the only pair I could find!).

I guess the take-home message is that attitudes are contagious, and they play a huge role in shaping our lives and the lives of those around us, including our pets. Let's make sure we keep them as positive as we can!

Dr. Jean Hofve recently retired from holistic veterinary practice, but still writes and consults on holistic health and nutrition. She recently co-authored "The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care" with nutritionist Dr. Celeste Yarnall. She is a Medicine Woman of the Mountain Wind Lodge Nemenhah Band and Native American Traditional Organization (Oklevueha Native American Church of Sanpete). She founded SpiritEssence in 1995, which remains the only line of essence formulas for animals created by a veterinarian. For more information on pet health, nutrition, and behaviour, please visit the free article library at www.littlebigcat.com.

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