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Saving Lives: A Story of Love for My Dog

Saving Lives: A Story of Love for My Dog
But, one thing is rarely discussed, and that is how much our animals, in turn, save us. Literally. Sure, we think we save their lives and that we are the stewards of their well being, but I can make a case that this idea works just as much in reverse. One of the best things a friend ever said to me about her dog was this: “She breaks my heart and saves me every single day.” I think of this sentiment every time I look at my dog, Roxy. Every morning I wake up to her sleepy head (she’s a marathon sleeper), my heart breaks open a little more and I am reminded of what a tremendous opportunity it is to be able to give and receive unconditional love. I mean, truly unconditional. People rarely give us that opportunity. But our pets? They give us that opportunity every second of their too-short precious lives. We are saved by them loving us and us loving them. We become better people. Studies have even shown that pet owners have lower heart disease rates and overall better health.

Some of us, however, are saved in even more profound ways.

I was doing yoga one day in my bedroom and suddenly Roxy began freaking out. Eventually, she started scratching at my hand, and I finally got up and followed her to the door. Apparently my super had been there knocking over and over and I hadn’t heard him. Why, you may ask? Sure, the music on my Pandora radio was playing loudly, but I’m actually profoundly hearing impaired. When I’m at home with my hearing aids out, I am deaf to some of the loudest noises. This allows me to live on a fairly noisy street with my bed near the window at the front of the apartment. People wonder how I do it. Easy, I just fall asleep on my good ear and I’m deaf as a doornail. I do pretty well out in the world, and was born this way, so I’ve developed a host of clever coping mechanisms... but I’d never thought about getting a new set of ears.

As I looked at my little dog that day, I realized suddenly that I had them. My super was thrilled Roxy had alerted me, because he needed to get into my apartment to fix a leak that was flooding the basement. This same thing had happened a year before I’d gotten Roxy and he’d spent all evening banging on my door after he heard a loud crash - me trying to put together an Ikea bed solo. He was just checking up on me, but when I never answered the door, his concern started to escalate. From then on, he generally calls before coming over, but sometimes he doesn’t. And, on this particular day, I was so glad. Roxy had shown me why she came into my life.

I’d considered getting a hearing dog years earlier. They are cheaper than hearing aids, but still quite expensive. This time, I did some research and it turns out, you can train your own service animal. Roxy and I got right to it. She came up with the hand scratching, so we stuck with that. And, I trained her to alert me to the door, a fire alarm, the phone, my alarm (which I’ve been notorious for sleeping through on important occasions) and the microwave. Now, when we travel, I don’t have to worry about missing the maid knocking on the door in the morning or my wake up call. I can rest easy if I set an alarm for something because Roxy’s on the job. She’s saving me daily, and there are moments when I look at those darn big ears and can’t thank her enough.

Who knew that this 8 lb. mutt from an animal hoarder’s home in North Carolina would turn out to be such an amazing companion? I never would have predicted that she would be a daily support for making my life better in more ways than I can imagine. She travels with me across the country and enlivens yoga students with her presence at workshops and teacher trainings. Little do they know that when their day is done and we return to the hotel where I remove my hearing aids, her job is just beginning. We make an amazing team, her and I, and I feel like I owe it to her to say thanks.

But, Roxy doesn’t need much. Just some DogsWell treats, a warm sweater (she doesn’t have much hair) and the go-ahead to jump in her travel bag. She loves going with me everywhere. Really, that’s pretty much it beyond the basics. So, how do I say thank you? I do it by doing what I can to try and unite abandoned, lost or abused pets with owners who are going to love them as much as the dogs love them. Because I know in my heart of hearts that as much as we love our pets, they love us so much more. They literally save us. Daily, moment to moment.

Please, oh please, won’t you join me this holiday season in supporting my efforts to help the dogs (and cats!) who need a little more of our affection and gratitude? Not only will we be saving their lives, but we’ll be saving the lives of their eventual owners. It’s something small we can contribute. And, in return, you’ll get a yoga class. Not a bad deal.

Here's how Downloads for Doggies works: The proceeds from ALL of my downloads of Kaivalya Yoga Method Classes from YogaDownload this month (December) will go to the ASPCA. You participate simply by purchasing classes that will further your own yoga practice.

Roxy and I are begging you!  
Click here to download Alanna's amazing classes!

By Alanna Kaivalya

Alanna Kaivalya is an artistic and inspiring teacher of yoga. Born with a hearing impairment, Alanna learned through the power of vibration at a young age, and was then naturally drawn to the harmonic practice of yoga. Listed as Yoga Journal’s top 21 Yoga Teachers Under 40 (March, 2008), and now with more than a decade of teaching experience, she has developed a teaching style that is a unique combination of her spirit, her knowledge, and of course the teachers who have influenced her along the path. Read more about Alanna and The Kaivalya Yoga Method at

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