Animal Case Study: Using Flower Essences for Adjusting to New Family Dynamics


Lucky is a spayed 7-year-old terrier/shepherd mix that was adopted from a shelter when she was eight months old. She arrived in the shelter as a stray. From the time she was adopted, she has been on a high quality dry dog food, but has seasonal allergies which are occasionally treated with Benadryl. In addition, Lucky is on heartworm prevention and takes the following supplements: Prozyme (digestive enzyme), biotin, multi vitamin, kelp, fish oil, flax seed oil, flax seed and alfalfa. She has occasionally used the homeopathic remedies thuja for vaccine detox, apis for beestings, and urtica for food allergies. She is in good overall health. 

Lucky’s emotional response to a new dog in the family
Lucky’s loving family and daily life
Addressing Lucky’s physical and emotional challenges
More alert and obsessive licking behavior alleviated
Shifting group dynamics
Return of vitality
Lack of confidence and depression due to grief
Lucky returns to playing
Finding her place in the family with tolerance of others and confidence
“Lucky is like a new dog…”
Ongoing allergies and nervousness
Family integration
Lucky finds her voice
Amazing transformation and joyful energy

Mary Szczurek

Lucky’s emotional response to a new dog in the family

Lucky’s problems have gotten worse since the addition of a new dog in the family four months ago. She appears to be unhappy and depressed. Although she is very vocal at mealtime, her owner’s say that she seems to have a general disinterest in life, and that she “basically just watches the world go by without participating.” They say that she appears to have a “why bother” attitude toward life. She is lethargic, grouchy with the other dogs, appears depressed and seems to have “given up.” She is food motivated, but also food possessive. She constantly licks her feet, either from boredom or allergies. It is much worse this year than last year at this time. Her owners believe that she may have been abused before she came to live with them, as she is hand shy, particularly if they approach her from above her head. They also say that “she doesn’t like to play, and doesn’t know what is fun anymore.” Because of this, she has gained weight over the summer. Her owners feel that she may be jealous that the new dog is taking attention away from her. They also feel that Lucky does not know where she fits into the order of the household.

Lucky is very attached to her owners, and prior to the new dog joining the family, she used to enjoy being petted and spending time on their laps and on the bed at night. 

They would like to see Lucky have more energy, enjoy life more, and get along better with the other dogs in the household.  They would love it if her allergies improved as well.

Lucky’s loving family and daily life

Lucky lives with her “people,” a married couple and two other large spayed female dogs in a very small home in a suburban setting. She has a fenced yard to play in with the other dogs in the family. When her owners are not home, she has the run of the entire house with one of the other dogs. The new dog is crated, as she is very destructive. Lucky has been fortunate to have someone at home with her most of the time, as both owners have worked locally and would come home on their lunch breaks. Currently, the husband works part-time during off hours, so he is home when the wife works. When the husband is working full time, the dogs are left home for approximately three hours in the morning, and then have someone home for 1-2 hours at lunchtime. They are alone again for 2-3 hours in the afternoon. They are seldom left for any length of time, as the owners do not leave home for more than 6 hours at a time, even on the weekends. They do not leave their dogs to go on vacation. The owners truly love their dogs, and enjoy their companionship. The emotional tone of the home is sometimes stressful, as the home is very small and is shared with a total of three large, rambunctious dogs that occasionally get into fights.

Addressing Lucky’s physical and emotional challenges

The obvious physical problems to be addressed are the licking and biting of Lucky’s feet. The primary soul challenges include determining why Lucky is depressed and to try to help her enjoy life again. The relationship with the owners appears to be good, but Lucky would benefit from reducing the stress level in the home, which could prove very difficult, as much of the stress is caused by the lack of space in the home. The short-term goal is to help reduce the itching on Lucky’s feet to make her more comfortable and reduce the need for Benadryl. The mid- to long-term goals include restoring her interest in life and improving her relationship with the other dogs in the house.

1st session; October 10

Using the information above, I started Lucky’s flower essence therapy:

Crab Apple was chosen for cleansing and licking

Gorse was selected to aid in the healing process and to improve her outlook on life

White Chestnut was added to remedy obsessive behavior, including licking and biting the skin

Wild Rose was used to remedy apathy and disinterest; Lucky experiences both apathy and the worsening of her apparent allergies.

These essences work together as a cleansing and healing formula directed at her allergies with the potential to help with her apathetic attitude toward life.

Lucky’s owner was instructed to use the spray formula four times daily, either by mouth, in her water, or topically.

2nd session; November 15

More alert and obsessive licking behavior alleviated

Lucky has shown amazing progress! Her owner stated that she noticed some changes after one or two weeks, but realized the full effect after four weeks. Her husband, a bit of a flower essence skeptic, has even noticed changes in the dog!

• Lucky has stopped licking her feet and the loss of hair on her legs and stomach has improved.
• Her owner reports that Lucky is “remarkably alert!” and that she seems to have lost a little weight. This may be due to a slight improvement in Lucky’s energy level.
• It was also noted that there has been improvement in her movement. Previously, she would amble or walk slowly, and now she will prance with a lighter step with her tail up.
• She has been sniffing things in the yard with curiosity and wagging her tail.   
• Lucky has started romping with the other dogs.
• She is also more vocal at times other than mealtime, which her owner says is a positive change as it shows that Lucky is learning to “express herself.”
• Lucky’s eyes seem a little clearer and brighter and she wants to spend more time with her owners.
• She will also chew on bones, something that she has not done in some time. 
• Lucky has been a little more assertive around the other dogs, and on occasion will go near them to pick up a bone. This is also something that she would NOT do previously.
• In addition, on occasion, Lucky has been getting on the bed at night and will sleep with the other dogs near her. Her owner points out that this is important since Lucky does not normally like being touched by the other dogs and previously would prefer to sleep by herself on the sofa.
• Her owner notes, “Truly a dramatic change in a short amount of time…amazing!” 

Shifting group dynamics

Lucky is still food possessive and can be grouchy with the other dogs. She wants to interact with the other dogs…on her terms only. She will antagonize the other dogs at times, but she can’t take it from them. Her owner would like to see Lucky’s energy improve even more. In addition, the group dynamics (with all the dogs) have changed now that Lucky is improving and the “fights” among the dogs has increased from approximately 1 time per week to 2 times per week.  Although Lucky doesn’t back down as much as she used to, her owner notes that Lucky will still shy away from confrontation, and needs to stick up for herself more than she does now.

Flower essence formula:

Beech was selected to remedy Lucky’s inability to tolerate the other dogs and to help with her apparent allergies

Centaury was used for Lucky’s submissiveness and lack of assertiveness

Holly was chosen for its ability to remedy jealousy, which Lucky seems to feel toward the newest dog in the family

Quaking Grass was included in the formula to assist the group of dogs live together in harmony

Wild Rose was retained from the previous formula to remedy apathy and to help her to not be cranky with the younger, more lively dogs

In order for all the dogs to benefit from the essences directed at group harmony, Lucky’s owner was instructed to place four drops in the dogs’ community water bowl. She was also instructed to administer the essences before bedtime and upon rising.

3rd session; January 31

Due to scheduling conflicts and the holidays, more time lapsed between sessions than usual. Brief phone and e-mail contact was made during this time, and Lucky’s owner confirmed continued progress and continual use of the essences. A refill of the same formula was provided.

Return of vitality

Lucky’s owners are noticing that she is acting more like a puppy, such as getting into things and gnawing on the pine Christmas tree branches. She is also sleeping on the bed more, which her owners feel is an improvement over her previous state. Lucky also seems to have regained some of her attachment to her owners. The owners have noticed a little more confidence in Lucky, and feel that she is not as much as a “pushover.” Lucky has taken a stand as to where she will sleep. She used to allow the other dogs to lie next to her owner, but now Lucky has taken that spot for herself.

Lack of confidence and depression due to grief

Although Lucky is exhibiting a little more confidence, at times she still lets the other dogs push her around. Her owner says that although Lucky never starts the scuffles, she may innocently do something that sets the other dogs off, creating a scuffle. She estimates that Lucky is involved in about 30% of the scuffles. Her owner reports that when the newest dog came along, Lucky was “pushed into the background as the youngest dog craves attention.” She also noted that Lucky would cower when someone is angry and she seems to be upset or afraid, even if the anger is not directed at her. After our session, Lucky’s owner called me with an inspiration. She told me that she feels that Lucky is depressed and that the cause may be that she misses her dog-pal, Chessie, that passed away suddenly over two years ago. She also feels that the other dogs in the household “were not her type.” She reported that Lucky and Chessie were buddies for 2 ½ - 3 years. (One of the other two dogs that live with her currently was also part of the “pack” at that time.) The owner told me that Lucky moped around and was depressed after Chessie’s death. 

Flower essence formula:

Borage was used to assist Lucky in dealing with her grief and depression of losing her friend

Holly was retained in the formula to remedy jealousy

Pine was added for guilt exhibited by cowering in response to owner’s emotional upset whether related to the animal or not

Quaking Grass was retained for group harmony

Wild Rose was retained to help Lucky cope with the younger animal pestering her

4th session; March 11

Lucky returns to playing

One and a half weeks ago, Lucky picked up a ball. Her owner said that this is “remarkable” because she stopped playing (or even picking up) balls approximately 4 years ago! There have also been two instances where Lucky engaged one of the other dogs in activity. She has also chewed a bone a few times, which is a great improvement. Lucky is getting more curious. For example, she will go into the bathroom and look around like she used to do! Her owner has noticed an improvement in her depression…her eyes are brighter, she is more active, and her ears have perked up. She also seems happy as she has been wagging her tail and prancing around.

Finding her place in the family with tolerance of others and confidence

Although Lucky had taken to sleeping on her owner’s legs, the youngest dog has now taken over that spot. Lucky’s owner thinks that Lucky has resigned herself to the fact that she won’t have the same attachment with her owner as before, as the youngest dog demands and requires so much attention. I suggested that the youngest dog be removed from the room occasionally so Lucky and her owner could spend some quality time together, sending the message to Lucky that she is important too. The owner would like to see Lucky continue to improve her tolerance of the other dogs and to improve her apparent lack of confidence in dealing with the other dogs. 

Flower essence formula:

Beech was used again to improve Lucky’s tolerance to the other dogs in the household

Cerato was added for Lucky’s lack of confidence in dealing with the other dogs, specifically the younger one

Holly was selected again for jealousy

5th session; April 15

“Lucky is like a new dog…”

Lucky continues to do well. Her owner states, “She is like a new dog that is slightly young for her age.” She has become for playful, alert and assertive. The owner observed that both she and the dog are more assertive. (It is interesting to note here that the owner is also undergoing flower essence therapy.) Lucky’s owner reports that “Lucky is more engaged in life” and that she is chewing on bones more frequently now. Although Lucky does not play a lot, she has picked up the ball again and now carries a frisbee. The owner feels that Lucky is intimidated by the other dogs as far as playing goes. Lucky has a little more “attitude”, letting her owners know she is around more. She will bark a lot to get something she wants, such as needing to go outside. The owner reports that as far as the group dynamics goes, there has been less fighting, and that Lucky is more tolerant of the other dogs. She does not growl unnecessarily. Lucky has stopped eating tree branches and wood chips. The owner feels that Lucky’s confidence has remained the same, but that she is not troubled by that. 

Ongoing allergies and nervousness

Her owner mentioned that Lucky still is experiencing allergy symptoms. She also stated that she feels that Lucky need more joy in her spirit. During thunderstorms, Lucky is visibly nervous. Although it has been considered an improvement, her owner would like to see some balance in how demanding Lucky is with her barking.

Flower essence formula:

Beech was retained again to help Lucky tolerate the other dogs in the household

Mimulus was added for her fear of thunderstorms, but also for potential fear of the other dogs in the household

Quaking Grass was added to help maintain group harmony

Yarrow Environmental Solution was added for Lucky’s continued allergy symptoms

Zinnia was added for joy

6th session; May 17

Family integration

Lucky’s owner started out by telling me that “Lucky is the success story.” She has been more active outside, including carrying around the Frisbee and tries to instigate playtime. Her eyes continue to be bright and she has been wagging her tail even more now than before! Lucky’s owner feels that Lucky is part of the pack now, instead of feeling like an outsider. Lucky will sit in her owner’s lap now, just as she used to do before the young dog came into the household. She spends more time with her owners, seeking affection. In addition, she is back to sleeping on the bed, which the owners feel is a big improvement. Her owner also reports that Lucky does not seem intimidated by the other dogs on the bed anymore, something the owner feels is a very big improvement. Her allergies have improved, with only a little scratching until this week when she began scratching her stomach. However, the owner feels that this is still an improvement from last year at this time. It is important to note, however, that Benadryl and the homeopathic remedy urtica were being used during this time as well.

Lucky finds her voice

With Lucky’s newfound confidence and playfulness, she has also found her voice. Lucky has started barking A LOT before meals, waking up the husband (who works off hours.) Although her owners are happy with the changes, they would like Lucky to balance out the excessive barking. In addition, they would like to see more improvement with her allergies. 





Flower essence formula:

Beech remained in her formula to help with tolerance of the other dogs in the household, but also for tolerance of the itching she is experiencing

Crab Apple was added to help cleanse her body from the allergens causing her to itch

Self-Heal was added to stimulate the healing forces from within, creating an environment where true healing can begin and be fostered

Snapdragon was used in this instance for two reasons. One, to help with the excessive barking, but also for the licking associated with her allergies.

Yarrow was included in the formula to aid in Lucky’s sensitivity 

Lucky’s owner was instructed to administer the  formula four times daily, either by mouth, in her water, or topically.

7th session; June 29

Amazing transformation and joyful energy

Lucky’s owner has this to say about Lucky’s overall progress, “The transformation is amazing!” “She is doing great!” Her owner notes that Lucky is being very vocal with excitement while running around the yard. Her whole demeanor is very joyful. Lucky has much more energy than before, and is enjoying long walks with her owner on the weekends. Her owner reports, however, that there has not been much change in the severity of Lucky’s allergies. I recommended that she switch Lucky’s diet to a home made or high quality commercial raw food, as many allergies are caused or exacerbated by certain ingredients in commercial kibble.

Mary Szczurek has been working with flower essences since 2001, and received her Flower Essence Practitioner certification from the Flower Essence Society in 2009. Besides her flower essence work, she is also trained in Reiki and has taken classes in aromatherapy. In addition to her human clients, Mary has successfully treated many animals including dogs, cats, horses, and birds. She enjoys organic gardening and is active in her community, serving on a local citizens committee and in her county and state 4H programs. In addition to homeschooling her children, Mary raises Shetland Sheepdogs using natural and holistic methods. Mary resides in Naperville, Illinois with her husband, three children and dogs. She can be reached through e-mail at:




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