The Story of Spartacus – A Canine Anecdote

This is an excerpt from The Book, Dog Talk – See My Book Page on here.  X

Spartacus by name, but not by nature, would I feel, be an appropriate description, for this most magnificent of dogs.

Spartacus was a Red (Irish) Setter, whose physical appearance shouted aloud every quality ounce of the bloodlines he carried.

All his ancestors were champion show dogs, and this was to be Spartacus’ path also, but for one seemingly insurmountable problem.

Spartacus was “shy” to the extreme of being hysterically neurotic, each time any new or unknown person came even inches into his environment; not the best emotional qualities for a budding show dog!

Spartacus and I met, when Joanna, his owner/breeder/handler, attended one of The System of Animal Therapy courses.

Knowing that I always have “guinea pig” animals on the courses, she approached me to ask if Spartacus could be amongst the numbers on this course, as she would dearly love my advice on him.

Spartacus duly joined the ranks, and in time his situation was brought to the forefront of the course, and was assessed and analysed at great length.

He was an extremely interesting “case” to bring to a room of students, for it appeared that his “problems” began when he was in company with a number of people and other animals, i.e. a show situation, or, a crowded room of people!

 We commenced his assessment, by Joanna putting forward her perspective on Spartacus and his situation, which she seemed baffled about, for she stated that she had bred and shown his whole family, back to his Great Grandparents, and had never, in any of them seen the reluctance, bordering on fear, that Spartacus showed most of the time.

Having discussed with the student body at great length, the dog’s breeding, rearing, socialisation, feeding etc, the common consensus was that they could see no appreciable difference in his situation, to that of all the other dogs that Joanna had bred and shown; they did not behave like this, so why did he?

No answers were forthcoming, so I steered their assessing powers in the opposite and interlinked direction, that of the human element. “Ah! Yes of course”, they chorused; “The Animal/Human interlink!”

So, what was different at this time within the human part of the “pack”?

“Let’s ask Joanna” I suggested.

With great gusto, the students began to ask Joanna the relevant human questions, that, pieced together with the animal facts, would, if they could “read” the whole picture, enable them to firstly analyse the complete situation, and then start to look at an appropriate restructuring programme for the benefit of Spartacus and Joanna.

A number of very pertinent questions were asked of Joanna, in an empathetic, non-intrusive manner, which is how I encourage my students to assess and analyse situations, always assuring any clients, that anything which is discussed within a therapy situation is totally confidential.

All of the students asked different questions of Joanna, but interestingly the ultimate answers came out the same, which is quite often the way, for after all, many roads lead to Rome!

The overall opinion was that whilst Joanna’s way of handling and dealing with the dogs had not changed, her personal life situation had, to the point where she herself did not feel confident any more within an increasing number of situations, which previously had not phased her.

Joanna’s self-esteem had taken a huge knock, and we had to find a way of going forward both for her and Spartacus, which would deal with their issues and allow them to rebalance and go forward in confidence and happiness.

There were a number of suggestions, within the student body, as to the starting point of the restructuring programme to be set into place for Joanna and Spartacus.

All of the suggestions were potentially correct, but having discussed them at great length, we concluded that for Joanna, the best point to start would be a direct input from her into Spartacus’ “problem, rendering her “in control” of the situation’s starting point, and as her initial input would be for the dog (as opposed to herself), she would be much more positive.

Both Joanna and Spartacus would therefore Balance much more quickly, giving Joanna both the confidence and the awareness, that she could make the necessary shifts, both within her life situation, and the situation that had arisen for Spartacus, through the “mirroring” that was taking place between her and the dog.

As there is no time like the present, we commenced Spartacus’ restructuring on that course, therefore beginning the rebalancing structure for Joanna and Spartacus, whilst teaching the student body at the same time, which I find far more effective from a student point of view, as there is no better teaching medium than that of “hands on”.

For the first part of the structure, I firstly asked all of the students to mentally project Healing/Balancing Energy towards Joanna and Spartacus; I then asked Joanna, with Spartacus, to walk into the middle of the circle where we were all sitting, and just stand there.

This she duly did; I then proceeded to firstly walk past and around her and Spartacus, stopping near them, touching Spartacus or not, as and when I pleased., and even picking up his lead and walking him away from Joanna.

When he was totally calm and accepting of myself, I then instigated the same procedure from the students at random, so Spartacus never knew who would walk past him, touch him, ignore him, smile at or talk to Joanna, or even take hold of his lead from her and walk him up and down!

This was just the beginning of the restructuring programme for Joanna and Spartacus, but within only fifteen minutes Spartacus would accept calmly and confidently anything that happened to, or around him.

Joanna also was confident within the fact of it being ok to feel nervous, without any specific reason to feel so, for she could depict and control what happened within her and her animals’ lives; this of course would subsequently lead to her acceptance or non-acceptance of any happenings in her life, and the way to deal with such.

Joanna left that day with tools in her toolbox that she never knew existed, marvelling at the change in Spartacus in such a short time!

Joanna and Spartacus went on to compete in the show ring, rising meteorically through “the ranks” to championship level.

I am pleased to say that she continued with her programme, and I had no need to see her and Spartacus again.

We Three Princes



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