An acupuncture lesson – Sessions with Kuma

Just when I think I’m starting to understand the way the world works, I seem to get a lesson in listening and being open to what is offered and by whom. While I have had animals I have worked with teach me all kinds of important lessons over the years, I have never had one offer me lessons in acupuncture itself. That is, until last Friday.

My last patient of the day was a little Pomeranian I have been treating for a number of years named Kuma. I always look forward to seeing Kuma. He is one of the most expressive dogs I know and he brings both a great open energy and a calmness to his sessions. Often he is my last appointment of the week and his energy always takes me into the weekend feeling good. Kuma is very serious about his acupuncture and is completely in tune with what the needles do to his body. In fact I don’t think I have ever met anyone, either human or animal more in tune.

In the past we have had some amazing sessions.

Kuma has back issues that occasionally flare up and one time he came in with his back really bothering him. After I placed the needles he immediately settled down and relaxed.

While his mom and I watched in amazement, the needles in Kuma’s body started shaking and I don’t mean just a little movement — those needles were dancing and everything that was stuck in his body was moving out through them. Now I have had dogs and cats that have some movement to their needles during treatment, but this was something much more impressive. It looked like there was a current attached to those needles, yet Kuma was completely relaxed and laying flat on his pillow. At first they moved quite fast, but as he went through his treatment they started to slow and towards the end we watched one after another finally stop. The moment the last needle stopped moving he jumped up, insisting that I take them out. And boy did he feel good, he went bouncing around the room like a new dog.

In his session Friday, Kuma had a little inflammation in his back again but it wasn’t as bad as it sometimes is. I put his needles in like I normally do and we waited for him to settle down like he normally does. But this time he didn’t. He was antsy, he would sit down for a moment and then stand up, he shook some needles out, he moved around, he just would not settle.

Occasionally Kuma will have a needle that is hurting him and most of the time he will look back at it and then look at me when that happens. He wasn’t doing that this time but still I moved a couple needles to make sure.

However this time he was acting differently then normal. He was coming towards me and grabbing my hand with his paw and bringing it towards him. At first I thought he just wanted me to scratch a certain spot or to move my hand closer so he could lick it. But it became clear, he was clearly trying to tell me something. But what?

At the same time all these was happening, I kept on having this thought in my head that I should have treated his back differently. I was actually starting to feel quite insecure about the whole thing, like I didn’t know what I was doing. While I tried to push that thought away it kept on coming back. Finally it was too overwhelming to ignore especially with Kuma clearly feeling like something was wrong.

I placed a couple extra needles in his back, following the pictures that kept on coming into my head and immediately he settled down, within seconds. He was relaxed, he put his head down, he looks like he was asleep except his eyes were open a little.

His mom and I just sat there and looked at each other and back to him.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog teach me acupuncture before,” I said.

In this world our teachers come in all sorts of packages and with all sorts of lessons to offer. Yes, Kuma did teach me acupuncture, he knew even better than I did what he needed, but he also taught me to trust what I am feeling more than my knowledge and to listen even when the voices I hear do not come in the form of the human voices I am used to hearing.

2 Responses to “An acupuncture lesson – Sessions with Kuma”

  1. emily Says:

    Oh, what a wonderful incredible story. I love my baby Kuma and so does his cousin Aspen Lane. She has had reconstructive knee surgery (TPLO) on her left knee and now her right knee has a partial tear. What wonderful therapy. Thanks so much for loving my sister’s baby so much.

    Emily Vander Stoep

  2. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Kuma is an incredible little guy. I think it would be impossible to look into his eyes and not love him:-)