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Do you ever think that life is just way too complicated? There’s so much choice and so many possibilities that if we aren’t on the go and doing stuff in every waking moment we can feel that we’re missing out or falling behind. Missing out on what though? Missing out on our own needs and individual choices maybe but it’s very easy to get caught up in this relentless activity and ignore the signs to slow down or change.

These last few months have been extremely busy with so many animals, many of them with life limiting conditions. Working with and for them and their loving families has, as ever been a privilege. However, very gradually over the same few months, I admit that I was burning the candle at both ends.

My own animal family tried to point this out to me in their own ways. Celeste, the young Buff Orpington, took it upon herself to chase off any and all garden birds bigger than a blackbird. Rooks, crows, magpies, jays, pheasant all got the Celeste treatment. She’d rush at them, top speed, wings flapping as she charged across the grass. Without exception the birds in question flew off immediately. Boundaries. Celeste has boundaries. Mine had all but disappeared.

Charliecat became increasingly restless. His food obviously wasn’t satisfying him, he was grumpy with his sisters and he was developing separation anxiety. Or was he? Every day we’d have a few minutes playing together but this didn’t seem enough either. I checked him out for physical and emotional problems: nothing. Then one day I spent a complete half hour with him, just the two of us playing together. I didn’t try to fit in anything else, just enjoyed being with him and the interaction.

Guess what? All his food issues and restlessness disappeared the same day. He had succeeded in getting me to play which yes, he’d enjoyed but so had I. There’s a lot of exercise involved in scrabbling round retrieving lost balls, sticks and toy mice from under cupboards! I needed both the exercise and the fun and to remember that doing one thing at a time is just fine.

Celeste and Charliecat knew where I was out of alignment and got me back on track. Animals’ behaviour is always precise. Using their particular attributes they convey messages to us, which, hopefully we understand. They are never deliberately willful but if they act out of character it is time for us to take notice as they are telling us, in their way, that something needs to change.