How my dog helped me to clear my issues

My dog's knee surgery helps me to find my uncleared issues


Do you know that sickening feeling of panic on the stomach? The nausea that suddenly hits when you think that “something dreadful” has happened or is about to happen?

I was at the vet when this feeling hit. The news: Jack, my 10 year old Jack Russel, will have to have knee surgery. He’s had the other leg done 4 years ago. The anterior cruciate ligament has ruptured and this causes severe pain as the cartilage rubs against each other. The bones can also move now into unnatural positions and arthritis is setting in.

The op needs a crucial 6 week recovery period with very specific after-care. NO movement for about 2 weeks. No walking for 6 weeks. Keep him still - agony for a Jack Russel. Last time he got so frustrated that he starting chewing all sorts of interesting things around the house. Including Andrew’s expensive and irreplaceable technology gadgets.

The main challenge… we’re going to London for 8 WEEKS in a couple of days! The vet puts up a brave face, but almost faints at the news. He says he can’t take the chance to do the operation if he’s going to stay with friends who can’t do proper after-care. It will waste a lot of our money and his time, and cause unnecessary pain for the dog if Jack is not kept still.

Driving home, my heart sinks even further. What now, what now, what now, plays the mantra in my head. A broken record, playing itself over and over. Nausea, anxiety, thoughts of “disaster has struck”…

My normal pattern

What would I have done without EFT? I would have continued worrying myself sick and not been able to "do" anything about it. I'm a natural worrier... and it doesn't ever go away by itself. It has the tendency to get worse and worse until I'm so freaked out that I end up with a head-ache that lasts for 3 days, or stomach-issues (like acid or irritable bowel). EFT has been one of the only useful ways I have found to calm my fears that keep manifesting at every bend in the road of life.

As I write this, the situation has turned out quite favourably so far. The trip to London was delayed indefinitely at the eleventh hour, and I was able to take Jack for the knee surgery myself. The vet was relieved and I overjoyed! This experience has really showed me in technicolour some of my issues that have not been cleared. The challenge lies in actually using the tools to our disposal in the moments when we need it. Often, it's much easier to stay in "victim" mode than to actively do something about the suffering.

How did I use EFT?

At every "bend" in the road leading up to the operation, during the operation, after the operation.. it's a daily ritual whenever something comes up I feel anxious about.

Just after we saw the vet and the plan was still to wait with the op for 8 weeks, Jack started limping and I was in turmoil about whether I should stay here for Jack's sake and "miss out" on the London opportunity. I used what I was feeling for my tapping rounds:

Even though I’m on this roller coaster and I can’t do it any longer, I love and accept myself anyway

Even though I hate this place of indecision, I just don’t know what to do, I love and accept myself anyway

Even though I can’t bear it anymore, I’m so stressed out, I love and accept myself anyway

When I was feeling calmer after a couple of rounds, I could think clearer and I was able to take action steps. I contacted a healing group and asked them for healing for Jack. I gave him an anti-inflammatory and made myself a cup of tea. He started walking a little easier.

Why does the panic return?

Later that day, he limped again and my panic returned. In our Level 2 workshops, we teach that when we have tapped for an issue and it seems to return, it's because we have not dealt with the "core issue". It can be an art to find the core issue(s) and it's important to find - this is where the real healing takes place. My anxiety was just a symptom of a much deeper issue and I knew I had to find out what was REALLY underneath. This is a good question to ask a client - what is your xyz problem REALLY about?

I sat down and started making a list of thoughts I was having about Jack, his knee and the whole situation.

  1. Jack should not be in pain
  2. I should take care of him
  3. I am responsible for Jack
  4. His ligament should not have ruptured
  5. It should not have happened now before we leave for London
  6. I should stay and let him have the operation and take care of him afterwards
  7. No-one else can take care of him as well as I can
  8. We took on this responsibility (of owning him) so it’s ours to carry alone
  9. It’s selfish of me to put my need to be with Andrew before Jack’s health
  10. Jack should be put first in the queue

These were the real underlying issues! My panic was about feeling completely and utterly over-responsible to take care of Jack. I felt over-responsible to "fix" or "heal" him and put him first in the queue. This is one of my patterns - everyone else (animal, human, plant) gets to be ahead of me.

Now I had identified the underlying issues, I could start working with the core of the challenge, instead of dealing with the anxiety (which was the symptom I was feeling when I thought about the resonsibility).

How do you tap for a belief?

It's important to realise in the first place that almost every thought we think is a "belief" of some kind. They're not the absolute truth (otherwise they would be true for every human on the planet) - they're thoughts we think that cause us stress to a greater or lesser degree. I noticed to what an extreme level my stress climbed when I think the though "Jack should not be in pain". That's not an absolute truth - it's a belief that's embedded somewhere in my subconscious. We can clear beliefs with EFT in order to live a more functional life. It's not very empowering for me to hold on to this belief because Jack IS in pain right now, that's reality. He might be in pain again in the future - and if I still have this belief then, it will cause me as much suffering as I'm experiencing now.

To clear an unhelpful, limiting or disempowering belief:

  1. Measure on a scale of 0-10 how "true" this belief feels and write down the number
  2. My belief that Jack shouldn't be in pain was a 10!
  3. Make a set-up statement that includes your belief, stated in the actual words that you would use to tell your truth, and include how it feels in your body when you think that thought
  4. In my case "Even though Jack shouldn't be in pain, and when I see him limping I feel panicked, anxious and responsible in my gut, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway"
  5. It's important to remember to just "state your truth" as you experience it. How does it feel in your body when you think about this problem? Where do you feel the emotion? How strong is it? The exact words you use are not AS important as what happens in the body - this is where the energy disruption shows up and that's what we want to clear
  6. Do rounds of tapping with some of the words from your set-up statement, eg
    Head: This anxiety
    Eyebrow: This panic in my gut
    Side of Eye: This anxiety on my stomach
    Under Eye: I feel panicked about this responsibility
    Under Nose: I'm so panicked
    Chin: This twist in my gut about Jack being in pain
    Collarbone: Jack is in pain and he shouldn't be
    Under Arm: This responsibility I feel
  7. Measure your progress after every round. Has the anxiety or panic increased or decrease? Where do you feel it now in your body? Is the panic showing up in a different place? Also measure the "level of truth" of the original belief. Does it still feel like a 10 to think "Jack shouldn't be in pain"?
  8. With EFT, the more specific we are, the better our results will be. I was most certainly not able to clear this belief in one sitting. Many events in my life contributed to me having this belief (we go into the details of why this happens in our Level 1 course). So if you can start working on specific events that caused you to believe this stressful thought, it will be cleared effectively and permanently
  9. How do you know when you're done? If you measure your "level of truth" of the belief you want to clear and it's a 0, you're probably done. For now. Our problems/challenges are like puzzles - it's possible that another piece of the puzzle (another aspect) will show up on another day. And then we tackle the new piece. It does not mean that EFT did not work - it simply is showing us what's left to work with


Why did I not use EFT to "heal" Jack?

Someone asked me during this time "Have you tapped for Jack?". The person was referring to surrogate tapping, where we can tap on someone else's behalf to clear their issue.

My simple answer was - there was no possible way I could get still and quiet enough inside to use my intuition. I was not able to tune into what was going on for Jack because my own inner turmoil was too "noisy" and cluttered - and it was crowding out all wisdom and guidance. I would have been projecting what I was thinking and feeling onto Jack.  I simply had to keep clearing what was going on for me, about what was happening to him.

I feel very strongly that our own issues need to be cleared first, before we jump into "fixing" someone else's issue. This is of course part of the pattern that I struggle with - wanting to help others before I help myself! So it was a really good experience for me to feel the value of doing my own work first.

The day of the surgery

I was in Sandton City for an appointment when I received an SMS from the vet saying "Jack is soundly asleep and surgery about to start". Well - the tears just started streaming and I knew I had to use my own tool! I knew I came a long way from being embarrassed to use EFT in public because I searched out a bench in Sandton City. I sat down and started tapping for my anxiety and worry right there and then. A couple of people passed by but actually no-one even really seemed to pay attention to me. They were getting on with their business, and so was I. (I had done a LOT of tapping for my fear of criticism and wanting to "look perfect" before this!)

When I felt better, including some rounds about "asking Jack's body to respond well, bleed minimally and recover fast", I felt clear, calm and was able to go and enjoy a delicious latte at Ninos'. I had done what I could, and the rest was not up to me. I could not think this thought before I tapped. (It's called  a  "cognitive shift" and often takes place behind the scenes with EFT.)

The journey continuous...

There's more work to do! Every time Jack groans or seems to be in pain, every time something seems to go wrong, I have to tap again for the presenting issue. I'm on a life-long journey and all I can do is to keep peeling the layers of my belief-onion!

This process has been so helpful to find ALL my stressful and disempowering beliefs about pain, being responsible to "fix" or "heal" others in pain, taking care of others before I take care of myself. Aren't dogs wonderful - they even help us with our spiritual growth!


With love and gratitude,
Liesel Teversham (EFT Cert-1, AAMET Level 3)


If you think you can or if you think you cant youre right! -- Henry Ford

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