I can tell her not to eat that plant. But.

Tulips and other plants in your home or garden may pose a danger to your animal companion. (Image by Vlad from Pixabay)

As an animal communicator, I can tell your dog why it’s in his best interest not to nibble in your garden. I can advise your cat that eating the fresh-cut tulips you just brought in would result in illness, at least one upset human, and a trip to the vet. Or worse. Pets and plants can be a deadly combination.

Clear communication about expectations and consequences is important with any species. But for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, we often have to go further and block the path to temptation or remove it altogether. You can tell your teenagers that the liquor cabinet is off limits, but it might be best to keep it locked.

An animal-specific example: those Easter lilies are beautiful, and who doesn’t want a bit of life and symbolism after a long winter? But they are so toxic, especially to our feline friends, that I advise people with cats not even bring them home. It’s just not worth the risk. I don’t think Jesus will mind.

For harmony of animal and plant life, and to avert a horrible outcome, I recommend these steps. All of them.

  1. Know what’s toxic before planting it in your garden, adding it to the pasture, or bringing it into your home. The ASPCA maintains a list of plants known to be toxic and non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, but advises that ingesting any plant material can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal problems for cats and dogs.
  2. Know your animal companion, his curiosity level and interest in plants or other unauthorized objects. For example, if your dog is a shoe guy and has never looked twice at your flowers, you may have less worry than if his tastes are more universal (i.e., gets into everything).
  3. Be clear with your animal about what will happen if they chew on or eat plants. “If you eat this, you’re going to feel very dizzy, your tummy will hurt really bad, and I’ll have to rush you to the vet. I’d be so upset and frightened if that happened.” Picture all of this as you speak. “So find something better to do.” Then picture him calmly walking away from the plant and picking up a favorite toy, going to look out the window, or coming to you to be petted.
  4. Consider using a taste deterrent on your plants; I’ve had pretty good luck with Bitter Yuck, which I get through our veterinarian’s pharmacy.

Bottom line: If you know or suspect your animal may have ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian, emergency vet clinic, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, (888) 426-4435.

Cats and Christmas trees: Game over


As soon as the Christmas tree went up, our cat started chewing on it.

It was a fake tree. It can’t have tasted good, and I tried to make it taste even less good with a little hot pepper wax spray on the lower branches. But Dusty kept coming back and nibbling.

Dusty in one of her less criminal moments.

I told her how dangerous it was. My partner and I tried to distract her with toys, which worked until it didn’t. We told her no, which sent her scampering out of the room. Until she came back and headed straight for the tree.

Finally, it looked like Dusty was leaving the tree alone. Then she threw up a bunch of the fake needles, prompting an emergency vet visit.

Thankfully, Dusty was OK. We would watch for any signs of blockage or bleeding for a couple of weeks.

The tree, however, was un-decorated, taken down, and put away by noon the day of the emergency vet visit. It wasn’t worth the risk.

When I communicated with Dusty about the ordeal, what I got was that she was surprised when she threw up the fake tree needles … and even more surprised at our anxiety, and at being whisked off to the vet. She thought we were enjoying the “keep the cat away from the Christmas tree” game as much as she was, so it continued. Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out a way to call off the game without removing the hazard.

Maybe this is actually “why we can’t have nice things.” Living with cats and other creatures sometimes requires us to forego nice things in favor of better things.

I found some Christmas tree cat-proofing ideas here. The article notably does not rule out skipping the tree in favor of a wreath on the front door! I’m sure we will end up finding a Christmas tree alternative as well.

Christmas was never really about the decorations, anyway.

Image by mskathrynne from Pixabay 

Animal communication and Reiki are different modalities

Animal Reiki and animal communication go well together, but they’re not the same … kind of like these two. (Photo by Nancy Crowe)

While animal Reiki and animal communication make a great pair, they are separate disciplines with unique benefits. The difference is essentially between meditation and conversation.

How they work

A Reiki session is a time of meditation, relaxation, and peace. Because I am certified in the Let Animals Lead® method, the animal is always in charge of whether and how he shares the energy.

During an in-person session, which I offer in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, a cat or dog might curl up in my lap or settle across the room. A horse may stand on the other side of the pasture, hang out in a stall, or come to meet me at the fence. I’ve even had a donkey sidle up and nudge his head under my arm! Whatever the species or context might require, I go into a meditative state and let the energy do its work.

Distant sessions are much the same, except that the animal and I are not in the same physical space. She’s generally at home relaxing with her person, hanging out with the herd, or doing whatever, while I’m in my home office — again, in a meditative state, letting the energy do its work!

During an in-person or distant Reiki session, I may receive intuitive information — but that is not the objective of the session.

An animal communication session, on the other hand, is an exchange of information. I don’t need to be in the same physical space as the animal or on the phone with the animal’s person for this. I connect with the animal telepathically, focusing my attention on what he has to share. No appointment is necessary for this.

With the animal’s permission, I work to gain insights into behavior. Or I tell her about a change coming up and ask what would help her adjust. Or I ask him how he feels about anything from his food to his person’s new boyfriend. Once I’ve talked with the animal, I email the person a summary of what we discussed. The client is always encouraged to take only what resonates and is helpful, and leave the rest.

Together but distinct

In some settings, such as a farm with multiple animals, I may do Reiki and animal communication in the same visit, but not in the same moment.

How this works might be compared to a chaplain’s rounds. Time with each animal could be spent in conversation to begin. Then we might share Reiki. After the session, we might talk a little more before I thank the animal and move to another. We wouldn’t be meditating and talking at the same time!

There is a time and a purpose to everything (Eccl. 3:1). When we let Reiki and animal communication function on their own, our animal friends get the best each has to offer.