Meditate With Dog Companions

by | May 1, 2018 | Aggie Life, Animal Science, Spring/Summer 2018

A UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine research associate says you too can “petitate” even if you can’t meditate.

Elisabeth Paige has long struggled with bipolar disorder and had experimented with many forms of treatment. Medication provided some control of the illness, but she still experiences times of desperation and pain. Her therapists suggested she meditate, but she couldn’t do it.

Years later, she decided to give it another try. But this time she held her schipperke dog, Pago, in her lap, petted him and concentrated on him alone. She discovered she was much calmer and felt better when she petted him rather than focused on her breathing, as ordinary meditation encourages.

And it worked. Petting her dog for extended periods of time made her feel calmer and more in control. It also inspired a form of treatment she calls “petitation” — a term she said she has coined and copyrighted — and a book, The Petitation Companion (2016), which she wrote with her mother, Joanne Leslie.

“We wrote the book from Pago’s perspective to make it even more accessible and fun,” Paige said.