Connecting the Dots: Pets, People, and Plant Medicine

The bond between psychedelics and animals is profound. Pets, people, and plant medicine intersect in a journey of consciousness and life.
Psychedelics and Animals. A photo of a person siting on the grass in with a golden labrador lying upside down in front of them. There are dreamy colorful flowers behind the person.
Author: Guy Borgford
By Guy Borgford
December 20, 2023(Updated: June 26, 2024)

A Canine Queen Named Maggie

We gathered around her tiny, trembling form, friends and family paying tribute to a giant personality. The cancer had stopped her will to eat or drink water—when a beagle refuses pepperoni slices, you know she’s done. 

Maggie was going on her 16th trip around the sun. She was the last of three beagles, all siblings. We lived with them for 16 years, and it was the end of an era—another colossal stab to the heart. The other two dogs had just passed three months earlier. Maggie stood alone as the center of our extended family’s attention.  

I had shared the decision with the group. If Maggie didn’t succumb to cancer by the following afternoon, I had an appointment set to euthanize our beloved beagle. To end her pain and suffering. As I write this, I’m a mess. As each finger stumbles over the keys, I sniff back snot and peer at the glowing screen through the sting of tears. 

It’s a beautiful mystery how this scrawny, little bandy-legged beagle could command an orchestra of human hearts. She did so with her hyperbolic facial expressions and propensity sometimes to attack people and other dogs. She was the youngest of our three beagles and the sassiest. 

As we prepared to say goodbye, plant medicine was made part of our expression of love for our sweet girl. It helped us open our hearts and feel into the pending passing of our beloved furry family member. When used safely and intentionally, psychedelics can be powerful tools to help us express grief for our passing pets. This is just one way we can connect with animals through plant medicines. To broaden our experience and understanding of life and Consciousness.

People, Pets and Plants

Psychedelic substances have intrigued human beings for thousands of years. From delving into the inner workings of the human mind to expanding consciousness beyond the ego and into the expanse of the cosmos, intrigue and curiosity are justified. However, the connection between animals and people in the psychedelic realm is a relatively new and evolving topic of discourse. Let’s explore the intricate relationships between these elements and how they intersect in often profound and unexpected ways.

Psychedelics Entering the Zeitgeist

There is a resurgence of interest in the use of psychedelics for therapeutic, spiritual, and personal development purposes. Substances like psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD are being researched for their potential to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction. These substances have shown remarkable promise in clinical trials for treating these conditions. Furthermore, psychedelics often produce a deep sense of interconnectedness and empathy. This is where the link between psychedelics and animals enters the picture.

Psychedelics and Animals: Furry, Fabulous Psychonautical Co-Pilots

Many people encountering psychedelic experiences report a heightened sense of connection with the natural world, including animals. For pet owners, this bond with animals can become even more profound during and after a trip. The unconditional love and trust that pets offer can be particularly comforting. Many individuals find solace and insights by simply being in the presence of their animal companions. This is true whether it’s a loyal dog, a curious cat, or any other type of pet. The shared experience of a psychedelic journey can deepen the human-animal connection and interconnectedness with Nature.

Glimpsing Duality’s Illusion

Psychedelics often lead individuals to a heightened awareness of their interconnectedness with nature. As people become more attuned to the environment and the creatures that inhabit it, they often develop a newfound respect for nature and the animal kingdom. This can lead to a deeper commitment to environmental conservation and animal welfare. This is because individuals recognize the importance of protecting the delicate balance of ecosystems and our connection to them.

Animal-Assisted Therapy

The benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) are well-documented. Animals like dogs and horses play integral roles in helping individuals with various mental health challenges. Some proponents of psychedelics suggest that, in a controlled and therapeutic setting, the presence of animals during a psychedelic experience may enhance the healing potential. By offering a sense of safety, trust, and connection, pets can complement therapeutic processes, facilitating deeper insights and emotional release.

Horses for Healing the Soul 

One community member describes her experience exploring equine therapy and the healing power of horses:

“After a particularly grueling ayahuasca journey where I experienced the collective grief of all the world, I felt a strong call to spend time with horses. As a child, I had enjoyed riding ponies and thought the insight was to do something that evoked my inner child’s happiness. I went out to a local equine rescue where I was introduced to a horse named Conan who had experienced significant trauma that left him on edge and untrusting of humans. What unfolded over the next year was nothing short of miraculous for both myself and Conan. Our connection was not through words or concepts, but an energetic exchange that opened my heart to the healing power of just being in his presence. Overtime, he came to trust me and began to show signs of trauma leaving his body. He became more calm, agreeable, and playful, and his healing powers over me strengthened as well. Everytime I visit him I find myself in awe at the mystery of nature, and more deeply connected to love all around us, especially that of my four-legged, furry friend Conan who I’m forever grateful for helping me through a difficult time of emotional distress.”    

Psychedelics and Animals. A photo of Maggie sitting on a round, woven mat. There are colorful psychedelic patterns across the mat.

Being One with Nature

Our natural world becomes ever more magical when psychedelics enter the mix. Many plant medicine practitioners only work within the context of a natural setting, with Nature playing an important role in the journeyer’s experience. With Nature comes non-human lifeforms and the joy and awe of Nature’s diversity and abundance. From the microscopic world of insects to the music of songbirds, lifeforms throughout Nature take on a much deeper meaning with a few grams of psilocybin fungi in your system. 

Your Pet While You’re Sitting with the Medicine

When we take psychedelics, we enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness—in other words, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Ask any seasoned psychonaut, and they’ll tell you that their pet knows when they’re under the influence. Personally, I’ve witnessed odd or restless behavior from my dogs and have heard multiple similar claims, particularly with DMT. When we consider the consciousness of other animals and things they can perceive that we don’t, it certainly raises questions.

If your pet gets anxious while you are under the influence of psychedelics, you can help take the edge off. Try giving them a recommended dose of CBD or pet-friendly cannabis edible, and let your fur baby take a bit of a ride too. Or ask a friend to pet sit for you while the journey is underway.

Ethics for all God’s Creatures

The use of psychedelics in conjunction with pets or animals should be approached with caution and ethical considerations. Yes, there may be potential benefits to the human-animal bond during psychedelic experiences. However, the welfare of the animals involved should always be a top priority. Responsible pet ownership means ensuring your pet’s safety, well-being, and comfort, which should not be compromised for personal exploration.

Goodbyes and Gratitude

Lighting candles and a fire, the five of us sat around her little decaying body. We surrounded her as she prepared for the ultimate journey through other realms. Her soft breath fell weakly on the bed. Every so often, she would rise up on her tiny, wobbly legs to try and find a more comfortable spot next to the tumor that was draining her life force. 

I passed around some Golden Capsules—a brilliant, high microdose concoction: 250mg of enigma strain psilocybin mushrooms and additional functional components. At small perceptual doses, psilocybin can have a notably calming and heart-opening effect.  It can enable deeper processing of emotions and expression of grief. Coming together with friends and family to celebrate Maggie’s life was a deeply moving and humbling experience. The inclusion of the medicine in an intentional, respectful way was a beautiful addition to our celebration of Maggie’s life. A lot of tears flowed, and memories of her life were shared. It brought all of us closer together than ever before. 

The Final Walk

Maggie made it through the night. The next day she stood at the back door, swaying slightly on her spindly, trembling legs. Despite not having any food or water for four days, she appeared to want to go for a walk. My sister and I threw on our shoes. I scoop her up and hold her face close to mine, so I can smooch her beagle snout rapid-fire as I carry her down the stairs to the river trail. 

At the trail Maggie starts squirming, so I gently let her down. Ever so slowly, she waddles her way down to the river. When we get to the bank, I scoop her up again and gently carry her down to the beach below. The pink salmon were running this year—the smell of their spawned, rotting corpses filled the usually fresh, fragrant air. I’m certain Maggie is headed for a fish corpse that makes Walking Dead extras look like beauty pageant contestants. As hunting dogs, they love rolling in rotting anything—I was expecting this to be her last little stunt of defiance. 

Instead, she steps over it. One of her little paws make a squishing sound as she pokes its spent corpse with her spindly stick leg. She goes and stands in the shallow of the river and drops her head to the cool flow. She takes a few sweet sips, her only water in four days. I’m a mess again, watching this brave, noble little beast soak up the last taste of this Sacred place. The wind tosses her velvety ears, she turns from the water and signals she wants me to pick her up. Riding atop her human chariot, she fearlessly looks past her pain into the path ahead, the mystery of The Everything. 

Closing Thoughts

The relationship between psychedelics and animals, pets, and people is a complex and multifaceted one. The use of psychedelics can deepen our connection to the animal kingdom.  It can foster empathy, gratitude, a sense of interconnectedness, and even therapeutic benefits. However, it is imperative that we approach these experiences with care, responsibility, and ethical considerations. The welfare of any and all animals involved needs to be ensured.

As research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics continues to progress, the intersection between animals and people in the context of psychedelics may offer new avenues for exploration and understanding. The psychedelic bond between humans and animals reminds us that we are all part of the intricate web of life. The future will continue to unfold, meaning and deepening the mystery of it all. We’ll continue to collectively explore the potential for understanding and growth between species and into the greater realms of Consciousness.

Follow your Curiosity

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The content provided is for educational and informational purposes only and should be a substitute for medical or other professional advice. Articles are based on personal opinions, research, and experiences of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Psychedelic Support.

Published by:
Author: Guy Borgford
Guy Borgford
Starting with a meditation practice a few years ago, Guy quickly began intentional work with plant and fungi medicine shortly thereafter, resulting in both profound healing and personal and spiritual development. Along with a variety of consulting positions at various organizations in the psychedelic space, Guy is also an artist and avid student of learning about our natural world with a keen interest in regenerative systems design. He runs a meditation retreat from his home in the North Cascade Mountains and counts the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy and working with the legendary and beloved Dennis McKenna among his volunteer experiences. Learn more and connect with Guy on his Linkedin Profile.

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