I recently reread Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book the Stroke of Insight and wanted to share some neat insight from this book in relation to our dogs.
The book is about the neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s journey through recovery after a massive stroke. A blood vessel had burst in the left side of her brain leaving her unable to talk, walk, read or write and devoid of her memories. With the left side of her brain out of the picture it allowed her to fully experience the intuitive, creative, peaceful space of the right brain without the clatter of the detail oriented left brain. Dr. Bolte Taylor was unable to deliberate about the past or the future because those cells were incapacitated. She could only perceive the present moment. She was also very sensitive to touch, smell, sound, and body language.
Dr. Taylor describes the different interactions that she had had with different types of nurses. One scenario was the nurse that showed up to her as a person in a rush, someone that wanted to take something from her that had nothing to give to her in return. She immediately felt the need to protect herself, protect her own precious energy. Dr. Bolte Taylor says, “It should be the hospitals number one responsibility to protect its patients energy levels.” I couldn’t agree more…
This is something I continuously teach to my veterinary staffs. As veterinary professionals we must take the time to connect with our patients before expecting them to allow us to perform diagnostics or treatments. We must give before we take. And we must take a moment to understand each individual pet’s personality and decide the best way in which to approach them. Our patients deserve our respect and our compassion. Dr. Bolte Taylor described the interaction with this particular nurse as rough and scary. This what our animals experience when time is not taken to first connect with them. Dogs will often growl, bite or strongly resist restraint when they are in this space. If we take the time to connect with them first we can almost always avoid this type of reaction. When a dog reacts in this way it is not because they are a “bad dog” but because they are protecting their own precious energy.
It is important that we understand animal’s perspectives whether they are our patients or our pets. As pet guardians we must also be aware of how our dog’s mind works and how our actions affect them. They are very sensitive to body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. We can also use this knowledge to understand how to better connect with them. Because they are more right brain minded they are also more intuitive. They often know when their guardians are feeling sick, anxious or sad. Often they know it before we do. One of the most wonderful characteristics about our dogs is that they live in the present moment. They are not spending time wishing the past could have been different nor are they worrying about what tomorrow will bring.
Another interesting fact I learned from Dr. Bolte Taylor is that the right brain holds our “truth center”. She explains that when people sustain damage to their left brain they are often geniuses at being able to determine if someone is telling the truth. I believe that dog’s are able to “see” our truths. That they love us despite our mistakes or bad behavior because they can see that at our core we are all good and loving. Another lesson us humans could take from our dogs.
It is a beautiful thing that animals are the way they are. I believe the fact that dog’s are more right brained is very intentional. They’re ability to live in the present, love without judgement and see clearly our truths makes them the perfect counterpart to us left brained humans.