Ready to adopt again?

dog & person silhouette Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

As an animal communicator, I walk with people and their animal friends through a lot of endings and beginnings.

The pain of loss is real and raw. It deserves respect. At the same time, you are here on earth with much love to give. Plenty of animals need loving homes.

Only you know whether and when to welcome another animal into your home, but here is my perspective along with a couple of things to consider.

Eight years ago this month, I lost my much-loved Idgie, the sweet diva of a tiger cat who inspired my first forays into animal communication and Reiki. Idgie had been sick, and she and I had been saying our see-you-laters for months. Deep down, I knew other feline friends would succeed her. At some point.

Idgie in cat bed 2007 crop

Idgie, 1996-2012

When I came home from the vet clinic and faced an Idgie-less, cat-less house, the pain hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. It was all I could do to survive in the moment, much less think about the future.

Not long afterward, I read about a horrific animal cruelty case in which fireworks were tied to a kitten’s tail. Something opened up within me, and I realized how much I wanted to give another kitty a home. And Idgie had trained me so well.

One afternoon, I sat on my back porch and took a few deep breaths. My partner and I planned to visit the city shelter the next day. It was only six weeks after Idgie’s passing — was it too soon?

I connected with Idgie in spirit and asked her to guide us to our next feline companion, whenever and wherever it would best happen. What I received was her classic ears-back expression and: “Right. Like I wouldn’t be involved in that decision.”

At the shelter, Kathy and I met several kittens, but none seemed especially interested in us. Then the volunteer brought out one who was about to go to a satellite adoption center. The four-month-old black tortie prowled around the adoption counselor’s office, trying to figure out where she was and why. Then she came and sniffed both of us, accepting the gentle pets we offered.

2012 Lucy on my desk chair crop

This is Lucy not long after we adopted her.

When I sensed the kitten was open to it, I gingerly picked her up. I commented on her distinctive coloring, notably the gold streak between her eyes that seemed to stop and resume on top of her head.

“Doesn’t it look like God came along with a paintbrush?” the volunteer said.

I held the kitten so that we were eye to eye. She reached out with one tiny black paw and patted my face.

We’d been chosen.

Did the joy of welcoming Lucy erase the hurt of losing Idgie? No. I still felt like crying every time I saw a tiger cat or a picture of one that reminded me of her. Lucy succeeded Idgie, but did not replace her. One being cannot truly replace another, and there’s no sidestepping grief if we are to love fully. While I continued to grieve for Idgie, my heart filled with gratitude for the love she had given me. That love enabled me to recognize the connection with Lucy, who needed a home as Idgie had.

The only thing I can imagine that’s worse than losing a pet is never having had that animal in my life. 

If you are struggling, or just wondering, here’s what I suggest:

  • Pay attention to your intuition. It’s hard to do this when you are in pain. But if you can, get quiet and ask yourself if it’s time to visit the animal shelter — or contact a rescue if you’re interested in a particular breed or type of animal. If you feel a lightness or sense of excitement and joy, that indicates a yes! If there’s a heavy, sad sensation, you might want to wait.
  • Adopt from a place of abundance, not lack. Another animal cannot truly replace the one you lost, or take away your pain. The last thing you want is to impose expectations on a new pet that are not about him or her at all. Stay with your grief long enough — however long that is — for your heart to open to a new and totally unique animal companion.
  • Remember the animal chooses, too. (Some animals would say they do all the choosing, but you get the idea.) My experience is that each dog, cat, bird, horse, human, or whoever comes into our lives for a reason. The animals probably have a better grasp of it than we do. When you meet a prospective new companion, pay attention to the way they respond and how you feel.

Whenever you and your next animal companion find each other, you are both signing on for a beautiful, painful, and totally worthwhile adventure. You both deserve no less.

 

 

Stop. Stay. Heal.

Image by Nick_H from Pixabay dog-2655472_1920.jpg

Image by Nick_H from Pixabay

We all do it. Push through illness or injury, or continue on a course of action that doesn’t feel right. We keep going because we have to, or bad things will happen. Right?

Except when we make a different choice and something better happens.

I heal faster when I stop what I’m doing (or what I think I have to do) and allow myself to do nothing but rest and recover. Decisions turn out better when I stop, stay with the questions, and listen long enough to discern the best next step. My animal Reiki practice requires me to be fully present with whatever the moment, and only the moment, requires. Fortunately, the animals I work with teach me how to show up fully in exactly this way.

During the anxiety, restlessness, and melancholy of the coronavirus pandemic, our animal friends are supporting us. They may bug us to pony up a treat or take them for a socially-distanced walk. They may generously help us get our work done at home. In any case, they ask us to stop, stay, and let ourselves heal in their presence.

Most animals will take breaks when needed. Our cat Lucy, a natural healer, has been putting in more lap time recently. Then I’ll find her lounging under the bed, something she hasn’t done in years. Molly the dog, when not on increased alert to delivery vehicles and foot traffic, has been sticking close by. Dusty the calico has kicked the comic relief up a notch, but still pointedly trots up the stairs when she’s ready to retire for the night.

If your animal friends seem anxious or stressed, tell them they do not need to take this on. I’ve been telling my crew and my clients’ animals that smart humans are working on solutions, and we can all help by being patient and courageous. Each in his or her own way, animals offer their prayers and healing intentions. They already know how.

Our world has been pushing through pain. Now much of what we thought we had to do has come to a stop. We are asked to stop the spread of the virus by staying home and, if we have to go out, practicing social distancing. This lets us protect one another, and it  gives our doctors, nurses, and first responders a fighting chance to help people heal.

Now that we’re stopped and staying, what can we do? Ricochet between bored and scared?

We can stay with our animal friends and ourselves. We can pray and send positive energy to those affected by the virus, the medical staff caring for them, and the scientists and health officials who are figuring this out. We can donate to funds set up to help the unemployed, support local businesses, and connect with one another through a variety of non-physical means. (Isn’t this what technology is for? Just sayin’.)

We can nourish our well-being and ask ourselves how we want post-pandemic life to look and feel. What steps can we take right here, right now, to make that happen?

The nudge of a dog’s nose, the rumble of a cat’s purr, or the knowing glance of a horse’s eye could provide the inspiration and connection to bring those intentions to life.

And if you and your animal friend would benefit from a communication session to address behavioral issues or a distant Reiki session to help both of you relax and reset, I am here.

Animal communication: too much to believe?

pixabay woman & dog water's edge
(Image by coffy from Pixabay)

As a practicing animal communicator who is also a longtime skeptical journalist, I get it. To believe we can communicate telepathically with animals can be a stretch. To believe it can happen at a distance, without benefit of phone or WiFi, is even more challenging.

In an age of science, and when we have to be careful who we trust, is this not appropriate? I say it’s very appropriate.

So why would anyone even consider that communicating with animals is possible … or work with an animal communicator in order to help a pet?

It comes down to why we believe in anything: our lived experience, the credible evidence we see, and what we stand to gain.

1976 Garlocks' lake home w Lassie & Mugsy the kitten I found
This is me at age 9 with a friend’s collie, Lassie; and a tiger kitten who’d happened by that morning. I called her Mugsy. Though I don’t remember specifics, I know I talked with both of them. Mugsy followed me around for the rest of the day.

Been there, done that

As a young person, I spent a lot of energy hiding — or shutting down — my sensitivity. I did so in order to survive bullying and generally function in the world. I still communicated with animals, but knew better than to call it that.

Like most journalists of my generation, I learned to seek reliable sources and verify everything. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” was the motto. I prided myself on getting the facts right, spelled correctly, and presented with perfect grammar and Associated Press style. (I still do.)

When I was about 40, my cat Idgie developed inflammatory bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, and crippling anxiety. She received good veterinary care, but at the same time, my intuition was beginning to open back up. I knew there had to be more I could do.

There were “pet psychics” on TV, but I never thought much about them. Then I heard about someone in my own small Midwestern city who did intuitive work with animals — an animal communicator, she was called. Almost before I knew what was happening, I’d emailed her about my cat and signed up for the next class.

We learned. We practiced sending and receiving information telepathically with one another. Each of us then did a distant communication with an animal whose species, age, and gender we were told, with a specific question to be addressed. 

I was stunned at the accuracy of the information I received. Holy crap, I knew this was real, but now it was tried-and-tested-real.

My cat and I began some tentative, yet heartening talks about trust, needed changes, and giving ourselves a chance. Her physical challenges continued, but there was a profound shift in the way we both viewed them. She felt heard in a new way, and we were able to move forward with more faith and less fear.

I moved through the intermediate and advanced animal communication classes over the next couple of years. We brought in photos and communicated with one another’s animal companions. We did an in-person communication with a dog our instructor brought in. Afterward, on my own, I practiced connecting with other animals.

This discipline is much more “practice” than “woo,” I discovered. I had this natural ability, but I had to use and develop it in order to truly help animals and their people. Which, I increasingly realized, was something I very much wanted to do.

Tell me something good

Most of my clients are referred by others who have worked with me and found it helpful. Credible word of mouth beats Yelp any day. 

Show me the science, you say? Here are a few relatively recent studies indicating there’s more to interspecies communication than previously thought. As always, judge for yourself. Also recognize that we may be just scratching the surface in this field.

Dogs understand what we say and how we say it, Hungarian scientists found. They trained a group of family dogs to enter an MRI machine and scanned the way their brains responded to not only words but their tone. 

Two books reviewed in the Christian Science Monitor further delve into research on how attuned our canine companions are to our emotions, speech, and behavior. 

Cats react to the sound of their names, according to a group of Japanese scientists. 

Goats prefer positive human facial expressions, says a UK-based study. 

• Not to be outdone, 23 horses were taught by Norwegian researchers to express their needs using symbol boards.

What use is this?

In a training session at one of the newspapers where I worked, the presenter said the WGASA principle must be considered in every story we write or publish. WGASA stands for (and I am paraphrasing here): Who gives a shilling, anyway? In other words, the information we gather and present has to be relevant and useful to our readers.

It’s the same with animal communication. Maybe your animal friend has a seemingly intractable behavior problem, or you are facing a gut-wrenching end-of-life decision. An animal communicator should, at the very least, provide a compassionate “second set of eyes” on the issue.

Moreover, if you’ve chosen a reputable animal communicator whose approach resonates with you, chances are good you’ll gain something useful. It might be a tip you can act on immediately, such as moving the litter box or taking five minutes after dinner every night to toss a tennis ball for your dog. Working with an animal communicator can also yield insights about whether your dog feels a proposed surgery would help, or why your cat doesn’t like your new gentleman caller. 

All of these things help you to have a better understanding of your animal friend, and vice versa. The result is less frustration and anxiety, and more peace of mind for all.

Is talking with animals too much to believe? You decide.