Nicci Evans could almost feel her heart breaking as she carried her dog Dylan into the animal healer’s clinic. It was a last resort.
Five-year-old Dylan was paralysed after slipping a disc a few days before and the local vet had suggested putting him to sleep.
For Nicci, 49, the thought of losing her best friend was unbearable, so she gambled on one last throw of the dice and made an appointment with an animal healer.
‘When I carried Dylan into the clinic,’ she says ‘he couldn’t move his back legs or wag his tail and he was just miserable with pain. I felt guilty for dragging him there.
‘Even as the healer worked on him, I was sceptical. I couldn’t believe anyone could help a dog in such dire straits.
‘But after just over an hour, Dylan suddenly got up from the floor, wagged his tail and ran out of the room. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.’
No drugs had been administered, only the ancient art of ‘healing’ had been used.
‘Healing’ is a broad term that’s used to describe many different types of alternative therapies, with reiki being the most common. Others include crystal therapies and spiritual dowsing.
They all work slightly differently but are based on the concept that there is unseen energy flowing through us that keeps us alive — and if the balance of this energy is disturbed, we become ill.
The theory is that a trained therapist can restore the flow so we’ll feel well again.
Thomas the cat pictured with Clyde Hughes who also treated Dylan the dog. Thomas was ran over and the vet told Clyde to put him down but Clyde is a crystal healer and used his crystals to save Thomas
In our fast-paced world with its emphasis on science and powerful drugs, it sounds ridiculous.
But thousands of people across Britain swear by it, claiming it helps them beat stress and speed up healing.
And it’s not just used on humans. In February, the Mail revealed how healer Avril Priestley had stunned vets by curing her dog Ella this way after a diagnosis of terminal bone cancer.
But until a few years ago, if you’d asked Nicci, an NHS bereavement counsellor and patient liaison officer, whether she believed in it, she’d have laughed.
Now, as the sound of a healthy Dylan playing with his squeaky toys fills her home every day, she’s a convert.
Kishan Takahashi pictured with dog Bonnie who had treatment for abdominal disorder
The problem began when he was three and injured himself playing with some other dogs.
‘I didn’t see how it happened but he took to his bed and wouldn’t move or eat,’ says Nicci, a mother-of-two from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire.
‘His disc had burst and it had trapped his spinal cord. He had to have an urgent operation and remained at the vet’s for five days.’
Two years later it happened again, spontaneously. ‘The vet told us it would probably keep happening — there was obviously an underlying problem. Each time we were looking at £3,000 for an operation plus £1,000 for physio. The insurance wouldn’t pay out because it was a pre-existing condition.
More importantly, could we keep putting Dylan through all that? The pain and surgery?
‘The vet said we should consider putting him to sleep. It was an awful, awful time. Dylan’s so cheeky, extremely loyal, and losing him was unthinkable.’
It was then that Nicci recalled how a friend’s Alsatian had been helped by a healer called Clyde Hughes.
‘I wasn’t convinced — we were talking about a dog needing major spinal surgery — but my partner, Phil, said “What have we got to lose?”’ By the time they got to the clinic, Dylan had deteriorated. ‘He was looking at me as if to say, “Mum, give me a break!” and lying on the floor, unable to move. It was unbearable.
‘Clyde put a crystal either side of Dylan and ran a divining rod — like a wooden wand — over him. He put his hands on Dylan, saying there was a blockage in his energy in his back and he was channelling lots of good energy.
Sarah Berrisford from Spalding, Lincolnshire, and Pancho the horse who badly hurt his back legs and was given a 30% chance of recovery but Sarah taught herself reiki and healed him
‘Phil and I kept looking at each other as if to say “What is he doing? Whatever does he expect to achieve waving a wand over the dog?” I kept thinking how embarrassing it was going to be to have to carry the still-paralysed dog out and thinking of ways not to make Clyde feel bad.
‘But then, after about 75 minutes, there was a miracle: Dylan jumped up on all fours and shot off. I had to chase him to catch him.
‘Words can’t describe how I felt. I was utterly amazed and could barely believe it.
‘There’s been no recurrence and Dylan has more energy and sparkle than he used to.’
Clyde, 54, has been a healer all his life. His grandmother was a psychic, and as a child he’d see healing sessions at his local church.
As an adult he studied many different forms of healing, and went on to gain a doctorate in complementary medicine.
He says: ‘When you’re trained in healing, you can scan all the cells in the human body psychically. They should all be bright. You’re looking for any part of the body with dark cells — which means they’re blocked. That’s where illness comes in, or emotional stress.’
Clyde, from Swansea, uses divining rods to scan the body.
‘With Dylan, all his spine was dark so I held crystal rods either side of him and connected with pure energy.
‘It comes into my heart and floods down into my hands and into his spine, removing the restrictions. When you remove restrictions, the body wants to go back to the way it was.’
To a layman, it sounds ludicrous. How can anyone summon an energy and put it into a dog? And how can it cure something as serious and as acute as paralysis?
But Clyde swears it does. ‘I’ve seen six paralysed dogs and got five of them walking.’
And it’s not just dogs. Eight years ago, he noticed that a feral cat who lived in his garage obviously wasn’t well. ‘This cat had never let me anywhere near him,’ he says. ‘Then, one day, I went in the garage and he was just lying there, clearly injured.’
The vet said Thomas, as the cat became known, had been hit by a car and damaged the nerves in his spine, affecting his tail, bowel and bladder.
‘An operation wasn’t possible so I started giving him healing every day for an hour. I’d put my hands on his spine and place energy into it.
‘After the first week, his tail began to work. A week after that his bowel, and within six weeks his bladder. It was amazing.’
There were other benefits too. ‘As soon as I started working on him, his wildness went and he became a tame cat. He’d put two paws around my neck and hug me — as if to say thank you. He moved into our house and took over. He’s about 11 now and my wife Anne and I adore him.’
But there seems to be little scientific evidence that reiki, or any other form of healing, actually works. Indeed, Britain’s only Professor of Complementary Medicine, Edzard Ernst, has described it as ‘nonsense on stilts’.
John Fishwick, president of the British Veterinary Association, told the Mail: ‘The BVA does not support the use of alternative therapies that have no rational evidence base.
‘It’s essential that pet owners consult a veterinary surgeon to ensure their pets get the very best treatment.’
Detractors say that success stories are simply a matter of coincidence — the animal would have recovered anyway.
But type a term like reiki into a search engine and you’ll be inundated with stories of the ‘miracles’ it’s supposedly performed and of people converted to its power.
One such convert is Lynne Robson, who believes her dog Kiki only survived eating two chocolate eggs during Easter 2015 because of healing.
Lynne, a 56-year-old business trainer, hadn’t realised just how toxic cocoa is to dogs, and it was only when she saw her springer spaniel lying almost lifeless in the garden next day that she realised something was wrong.
‘She was in a bad way, not even able to stand, so I rushed her to the vet,’ says Lynne, from Bridgend, South Wales. ‘Her stomach was pumped and she was given charcoal to counteract the chocolate, but it didn’t work. We watched her getting weaker — you could see she’d lost the will to live.
‘The vet said to me: “You’ve got a big decision to make here.”
‘I was thinking I couldn’t face putting her down, when suddenly, an image of Kishan flashed before my eyes.’
Kishan was Kishan Takahashi, a Newport-based healer who’d helped Lynne with a skiing injury to her knee a few years before. ‘If he couldn’t do anything, then at least I knew I’d have done everything I possibly could for Kiki,’ says Lynne.
‘Kishan started by looking into Kiki’s eyes, stroking her and placing his hands on her head. After an hour she looked brighter so I thought I’d let her carry on to see how she did.’ Lynne took her home, but a few days later Kiki started walking with her head down. The vet diagnosed a brain haemorrhage and said that she should be put down. Instead, Lynne took her back to Kishan.
‘He did some more healing on her and I took her back every day for five days. On that fifth day, she got up, drank some water and ate some mashed-up rice.’
Critics might argue that the dog’s body had healed naturally, but Lynne won’t hear a word of it. ‘I don’t understand why people can’t be more open-minded,’ she says. ‘There are lots of things I don’t understand but I don’t say they don’t work. Embrace other people’s beliefs. Without Kishan, Kiki wouldn’t be alive.’
Unsurprisingly, the animal healer agrees with Lynne. ‘I haven’t got time for people who don’t believe it,’ Kishan says. ‘They don’t get it. I’m helping people and animals, often when their conventional options have run out.’
He does seem to have an impressive cure rate. Ten-year-old dog Bonnie was brought to Kishan suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disorder, following three days in a veterinary clinic when the vet had initially warned her owners that she wouldn’t survive the night.
The bichon frise fell ill again a few days later, so owners Keith and Mandy Harris took her to Kishan. ‘He laid hands on her — it was amazing to see,’ says Mandy, a 48-year-old optician from Cardiff. ‘She was just very relaxed, almost hypnotised, and after three visits she was like a puppy again — and it’s all thanks to Kishan.’
Sarah Berrisford, 32, from Peterborough, believed in healing so much that she learned how to become a reiki master to help her horse recover from an accident.
‘Pancho was playing with a another horse and he must have slipped and injured both his back legs,’ says Sarah. ‘As soon as I saw him, I knew something wasn’t right.’
After two day’s rest, 13-year-old Pancho still hadn’t recovered so Sarah called the vet.
‘He diagnosed severely damaged suspensory ligaments and tendons in his hind legs and said he needed rest. I knew that was serious.’
Sarah’s grandmother had been a healer, so she did a one-day course in the subject and began laying hands on Pancho.
Six weeks after the accident, the cob still wasn’t improving. ‘The vet gave him a 30 per cent chance of recovery, and I knew that if he didn’t get better then we’d have to think about having him put down. It was heart-breaking.’
So Sarah redoubled her efforts, taking another reiki course and giving him healing up to five times a day.
‘I’ve never felt so driven,’ she says. ‘This time, I was more instinctive about where I laid my hands. Before, I’d put them on the injury; afterwards, I put them wherever I felt they were needed.
‘My hands would get hot and my legs would ache exactly where Pancho was injured. I started to feel I was doing some good.
‘After ten days, his eyes were brighter and he looked happier — and that’s when I knew it was going to work. Two weeks later, he wanted to trot.’
That was 11 years ago, and today Pancho is a stately 24-year-old.
‘There’s been no recurrence of the injury at all,’ says Sarah. ‘Instead, our relationship has gone a step further. Giving him healing seems to have given us a greater connection and understanding.’
Sarah is now a reiki master, teaching students from all over the world. ‘Nowadays, our minds are conditioned to just watching TV,’ she says. ‘But we’re capable of so much more.’
Whether we’re really capable of healing an animal with our minds though, remains open to debate.