My Superhealer

by Nikki Mark

Animals can be magical healers. Here’s a little story about mine…

Approximately four years ago, my husband and I were walking our dog Ginger right outside our home when, out of nowhere, a man we had never seen before marched straight up to my husband with a smirk on his face and shouted, “Are you going to put your dog on a leash?”

Given the way he invaded my husband’s space and pumped out his chest, I thought they knew each other.

My husband stuck out his chin and went along with the joke.

“No, I’m not,” he replied, partially grinning.

When the man didn’t back off (and it became clear to me that they didn’t know each other), I reminded my husband that the remote to Ginger’s electronic collar was in his hand.

My husband promptly held the remote above his head. “She IS on a leash!” he exclaimed.   

The guy lunged closer. “That’s what everyone says. If you don’t put your dog on a leash, I’m coming after you!”

I looked over at Ginger, whose amber eyes were already staring up at me, and I sadly realized that all this man could see was the brown Pitbull she was on the outside… strong, compact, and built like a tank.  

He could not see the superhealer she was on the inside, who grounded our home and centered our family every hour of every day. He did not know that our superhealer’s powerful heart and calm soul had touched countless lives, both young and old, and turned many dog haters into lovers. And he could not tell that beyond Ginger’s stern exterior is a wise Yoda who hates violence, runs from conflict, and has never once shrunk from the challenge life handed her when she became part of a family who would lose a child.

We tried to explain to this man that as a puppy, Ginger had been abandoned, chained to a fence, and left for a doggy daycare owner to save her. That’s why, since the day she was rescued, leashes made her panic and impossible to walk. The beep on the electric collar was the only way we had found to take her outside and keep her safe. 

But this man wasn’t interested in our explanations.

Instead, he shouted, “Now I know where you live!” Then ran off and faded into the distance.

My husband looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and surmised, “Maybe he got bit by a dog as a kid or something?”

The three of us walked back into the house without answers and shook it off. After all, we had much bigger problems.

But this man clearly didn’t.

A few weeks later, I received a late morning call from our Council Member’s office informing us that this neighbor of ours was bombarding them with complaints about us and our dog.  

When I returned home that evening and told my husband about it, he flashed a stern written warning in my face from Los Angeles Animal Services, which had been delivered by regular mail.

And a few days later—as if this man hadn’t already used up enough city resources—our Council Member’s office called again to let us know that this neighbor of ours (whom I haven’t seen since, by the way…) was now calling and sending letters demanding that our Council Member  vote against the athletic field for children that my family had gifted to our local public park to honor Tommy and share his spirit of play with others.

This man, I realized, was far more of a Pitbull than my dog was.

Still, the very next morning, I wrapped Ginger’s electronic collar around her neck and headed outside for our morning walk. When I noticed a police officer sitting on a motorcycle right outside our driveway, I figured the man with the floppy hair had gotten to him too!

Tired of being harassed, I went back inside, grabbed Ginger’s traditional pink leash from the bottom of a cabinet, and attached it to the second collar that never leaves her neck and has her tags on it.

“The cop will see the pink leash,”I explained to her, “but it will be the beep that keeps you by my side.”     

As we headed down the block, the cop sped off in the opposite direction… and then, slowly but surely… my furry superhealer began to experience some healing herself.

At first, she panicked and jumped up to bite her pink leash. But then, one high-pitched beep from the remote in my hand redirected her attention and reminded her to keep moving forward. Step by step, block after block, the beeps became fewer and further between—until eventually, one month later, she felt safe and we ditched her electronic collar altogether.

Ginger now loves her leash so much that she brings it to us in her mouth at walk time.

I still have no idea who that man was or where he lives, but what I learned from this experience is that every situation has something to teach—and potentially help heal. 

By forcing us to walk Ginger on a traditional leash, this man helped our superhealer face and transcend her greatest fear. And the more she healed from her trauma, the more she helped us heal from ours.

Day by day, our walks grew longer. The time we spent outdoors in nature stretched further. And physically and emotionally, we all grew stronger.

Ginger is multiple dog years older now. Her hips are getting tired. Her legs move slower. And our walks are much shorter. 

Still, every time I attach her pink leash and we head outside, I’m reminded that superhealers come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. And if our hearts are open to it, we can receive healing from the most unlikely people and places…whether we ask for it or not.

6 thoughts on “My Superhealer”

  1. Thank you Nikki for this beautiful piece.
    I follow you and I am stil in the process of healing myself from circumstances different from yours but that brought a big loss to our family.
    My rescue little rat terrier Nova has been our healer and everyday I thank you the Universe for having gifted us with her.

    • Dogs are the best healers! They teach us so much about love. No wonder everyone seems to have a dog these days…Thank you for being on this healing journey with me.❤️


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