LOS ANGELES — Just two weeks ago, Marla, a seven-year-old Mastiff mix, was sitting in a cage in a high-kill shelter waiting to be euthanized.
Then, a guardian angel appeared and her life was spared.
That angel was Chloe Esperiquette, a rescue worker at Wags & Walks in West L.A. Esperiquette and her team go from kill shelter to kill shelter, saving as many dogs as they can fit into their facility. One look at Marla’s big brown eyes and Esperiquette was hooked.
“She’s just the sweetest gentle giant in the world,” Esperiquette recalled.
But saving Marla was the easy part. Although pet adoptions have increased during the pandemic, older dogs like Marla, who’ve spent most their lives in a shelters, are still hard to place.
“When dogs are stressed out and overwhelmed in a kennel or shelter environment they’re often looked over simply because they’re behaving in ways they wouldn’t in a home,” Esperiquette said.
So, on a warm February morning, Esperiquette drove Marla a half an hour for an alternative treatment to try and boost her chances of getting adopted.
“There is really nothing we wouldn’t do to help a dog along their journey and keep them happy,” she said.
They’re heading to DEN Urban Dog Retreat, a spa in Los Angeles, which offers Reiki for dogs. The session which usually costs up to $155, is free for Marla and other rescues.
Reiki is a Japanese energy therapy. Practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above the patient, to activate the body’s own healing response. Studies have shown that Reiki can reduce side effects in cancer painters and alleviate pain. But there is no conclusive evidence to scientifically confirm that it works.
Still, there is no denying that the practice is gaining momentum among both humans and the four-legged. The annual Puppy Bowl, an Animal Planet canine-themed show, aired a segment about doggy Reiki this year, in an effort to raise awareness for rescue adoptions.
Gina Skye has been a Reiki master for more than 20 years. She says the treatment helps pets “emotionally, mentally, physically, even spiritually.”
Her session also includes a sound bath, which guides you into a deep meditative state. At first, Marla seems a but confused. But within minutes, she’s sound asleep.
“They love it," she said. "They just Zen out."
Now Marla has a spring in her step -- one Esperiquette hopes will lead to a new life in a loving home.