(Published in: Voices of Central PA; May 2007)

Reiki Master Liz Strickler plays with 3-year-old Joseph, at Centre County PAWS, where she is a volunteer dog coordinator

Reiki Master Liz Strickler plays with 3-year-old Joseph, at Centre County PAWS, where she is a volunteer dog coordinator. (Photo credit: Marilyn C. Perez)


When Amy Smith returned to her State College home after visiting a friend in Maryland, something unusual happened, which she says changed her life forever.

As she stood casually talking to her neighbor, up ran a dirty-looking dog, with broken teeth and an overbearing collar that commanded her attention.

“She ran straight to me so I picked her up,” recalled Smith. “It seemed like someone had dumped her so I decided to feed her and let her spend the night until I found her owners.”

That was Oct 8, 2000. Six years later, on the very same date, the dog that was only spending the night, finally said her goodbyes.

Annie, so named by Smith because she was orphaned, was put to sleep after she started having recurring seizures.

“She was my first dog,” Smith said. “I can’t explain it. When she first came I [said I was] not keeping her, but then when she got into bed with me and my husband that first night, and I started taking care of her, I just fell in love.”

That love is why today Smith is an animal activist and rescuer.

“Annie put me on a road I wasn’t even thinking of traveling, “ Smith said. “I owe so much of who I am to her, which is why I knew I had to do anything possible to make her more comfortable during the last days of her life.”

Smith tried traditional medicines and procedures, taking Annie as far as Virginia to see a neurologist. However, when nothing traditional seemed to work, she turned toward alternative treatments.

“Initially I tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs with Dr. Karen Jones, in State College,” she said. “However, Annie didn’t get the full effect of the acupuncture ‘cause she wasn’t the best patient.”

What seemed to work the best, Smith recalled, was Reiki.

The full name for Reiki is Usui Reiki Ryoho, or in English, the Usui System of Natural Healing. Named after its founder Dr. Mikao Usui, it is a natural healing process that involves the channeling of an unseen “universal life energy” from one to another, through the laying of hands or through absent healing. It is the belief that energy is subconsciously drawn to areas most needing of them. However, Reiki isn’t just about curing illness.

“Reiki helps increase blood stimulation and promotes deep relaxation and a happier life,” explained Liz Strickler, a Reiki master. Strickler, who runs Happy Tails Pet Therapy in Boalsburg, PA, has been using Reiki, as well as animal communication with animals for years. She has worked with many different animals, both in-person and from afar.

“The wonderful thing about Reiki is that you do not have to actually be there to lay hands over the animal, which means more of them stand to benefit from it,” she said. “All I have to do is envision the energy being channeled through me from the universe going to the animal and that transfers the energy.”

This universal energy, Strickler said, is what keeps us moving. The less we have, the more likely we are to be ill; whereas the more we have, the more likely we are of being healthy.

“It’s not unusual to see the animals visibly relax while receiving the treatment, “she said. Strickler recalls her sessions with Annie, and how at times, Smith’s cats would “come lay down to see what they could get.”

“My cats loved Liz.” Smith said. “It was so strange because the one that wasn’t very social was very interested in her…it was just amazing.”

Smith admits she wasn’t sure what to expect when she contacted Strickler, but that her experience with Reiki gave her a deep appreciation for Eastern ways and for alternative medicine.

“I knew Western Medicine couldn’t do everything, but I didn’t know that Eastern medicine could offer as much as it did.” She said.

Even though Annie’s seizures didn’t stop, Smith believes Reiki did lend some comfort.

“She was noticeably less restless and a lot more peaceful than she used to be.”

Strickler says this calming behavior is common with most of her cases. She remembers working with a Doberman named Joshua, who was a little too hyper and couldn’t get along with the older dogs at home. After working with Joshua for a couple of weeks, Strickler said, he was finally calm enough to mingle with the other dogs.

Reiki is an up-and-coming trend in the pet community, but has been predominantly used with people.

Jonathan Makela, a Penn State student, said he has had Reiki performed on him before and would do it again. Makela, had read an article about the treatment while in Philadelphia, and was surprised to see it offered as an option at a massage parlor he visited a week later.

“It seemed like a cool, interesting thing to do, so I had a half hour of it done,” Makela said. The Penn State student remembers “feeling extremely relaxed and calm,” and wanting to have it done again.

Strickler and other Reiki masters consider repeat sessions of Reiki the best way to achieve optimum benefits. Strickler encourages people to step out to their comfort zones and try Reiki on themselves and their pets.

As for Smith, she is still thankful to Strickler. She is even considering taking her cat Tuffy, who tore a ligament in his leg, for a couple sessions. Smith says Tuffy is in need of some “positive energy.”





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