Call Me Isabelle
Call Me Isabelle
‘Animal Talkers’ relay pets’ odd requests and comfort owners
By Ruthanne Johnson
Though the veterinary staff at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley couldn’t find anything medically wrong with Henrietta, she was wasting away before their very eyes. The beautiful orange tabby found as a stray was utterly out of sorts. She would eat intermittently while in the shelter’s clinic but refuse food in the adoption area. Euthanasia seemed to be the only humane option.
In a last-ditch effort to save the failing cat, shelter employee Becky Eeds and her husband, Bill, decided to foster her in their home. For a month, the Louisville couple worked to lift Henrietta’s spirits and encourage her appetite. But despite regular tube feedings, she dropped to a mere 4 pounds. “We suspected that she didn’t have the will to live,” says Bill Eeds. Refusing to give up, they called a local animal communicator for help.
Two years earlier, the Eedses’ standard poodle, Charlie, had suddenly begun urinating in the house. After clearing Charlie’s health with the vet, they’d called a friend who was a part-time animal communicator. Communicating telepathically with Charlie over the phone, she told them that the poodle was stressed over the safety of their Chihuahuas because of a Burmese python they’d adopted from the shelter. In the four years they’d cared for the albino python, she’d grown to over 10 feet, fed on live animals similar in size to their tiny pooches. Their friend’s insight surprised them. “She knew things about Charlie that only we knew, and with such precision,” Bill Eeds says. Charlie’s behavior improved after they sold the python, and they hoped a communicator could help poor Henrietta.
TRANSLATING ANIMAL TO HUMAN LANGUAGE
A kind of cross between animal psychic, animal behaviorist and pet trainer, animal communicators are regarded as quacks by some and as intuitive professionals by others. Whatever the opinion, more and more pet owners are turning to these practitioners for help with their pet problems—from aggression and finding missing animals to difficult end-of-life decisions—especially when all else has failed. While animal communicators are not required to obtain official credentials or certification, many of them hold surprisingly distinguished qualifications.
The Eedses contacted a local animal communicator and sent her a picture of Henrietta, along with a list of questions that they wanted to ask the cat. Replying via email, the communicator told them Henrietta was distraught because her original family hadn’t come looking for her. She also preferred the name Isabelle. “The communicator told us that she liked the way it sounded,” Bill says, “and we said, ‘Well, OK.’” Henrietta had told the communicator she liked living with them and wanted to stay.
The Eedses decided to keep the cat and within two days, the newly named Isabelle began eating small amounts. “They were the first bites she’d taken by mouth since coming to live with us,” Bill says. Two years later, they couldn’t be happier with their petite but healthy cat, now 4 pounds heavier. She often twirls around their feet and jumps up to meow for food. Though Eeds admits Isabelle previously had problems with her teeth, he says the behavioral change was uncanny and almost immediate. “The communicator said she wanted to survive, and she did.”
Longmont animal communicator Nancy Bruington, formerly a chiropractor, says talking to animals is typically done telepathically, or intuitively. “Basically, it’s about what the animal would say if it could talk,” she says. Like other communicators, she asks clients for a picture of their pet and questions they’d like to ask. Though she sometimes talks aloud to pets, receiving information is a different story. “Sometimes I get an impression. Sometimes I’ll get words. It’s not like having a human conversation, though, where I hear words.” She says that with behavioral issues, pets may offer their own suggestions. With health issues, they might even ask to be taken to the vet.
After trying an animal behaviorist, pet trainer, and even vet-prescribed medications, Denver resident Christina Collins called an animal communicator. Daphne, the rescued greyhound she was fostering, had severe separation anxiety and barked incessantly and chewed the carpet to shreds whenever Collins left the apartment. Steep HOA fines and the expensive search for advice had upped the ante. Collins desperately wanted to help Daphne, but she was running out of options.
The dog had a terrible past to overcome. Hanged to die after her service on a Spanish farm where she’d once hunted rabbits, Daphne had escaped while struggling against the rope. The farmer caught her, broke her leg and then dumped her miles from the farm. She’d been shot by police before a Good Samaritan scooped her up. Once healed, Daphne had been shipped to Colorado.
At the end of her rope, Collins Googled animal communicators and called Jenny Key, a licensed clinical social worker and former vet tech who also hangs out her shingle as an animal communicator. “I didn’t necessarily buy into this,” says Collins. “I just wanted to try every option before I wrote Daphne off.”
Collins says Key listened and empathized as they spoke over the phone, suggesting she write a letter to Daphne about how she felt. “I sat down to my computer and started typing, and I was sobbing,” Collins says. She read the finished letter aloud to Daphne. Almost immediately, she noticed a change. “There was a calm about her, and she wasn’t pacing and constantly nosing at me.”
Collins decided to keep Daphne, and on Key’s suggestion started telling the dog where she was going and how long she’d be gone whenever she left the house. “I could go out and she never barked again or ate the carpet,” Collins says. “My neighbors thought I’d gotten rid of her.”
Pets will sometimes “talk” about things that make their owners uncomfortable, like disliking a new boyfriend, Bruington says. Or maybe they talk about some habit like laziness or off-key singing. In those situations, it takes a discerning communicator to keep the peace between pet and owner. Sometimes, pets make unusual requests. Bruington remembers a cat who requested religious music when he was alone, and a bored little Yorkie who demanded talk radio and open drapes to keep him entertained.
‘I’VE HAD SUCH AN AMAZING LIFE’
But animal communicators aren’t for everyone, says Niwot resident Kate Solisti, a 20-year veteran in the field who has clients all over the world. “The kind of clientele who come to me are open and believe in their hearts that there’s more going on with their animals than instincts and reactions,” she says, “—that there’s a conscious, sentient being in there who just doesn’t speak the same language.”
Bruington agrees. A pet owner’s disbelief can inhibit how the animal communicates with her, she says. Communicating with animals is not an exact science, either. “Sometimes I’m off,” she admits, “or sometimes the owner chooses not to take the actions that would make a difference for the pet.”
Randy Macy believes wholeheartedly in the process. He’d heard about animal communicators over the years, and called Key for advice with his elderly Westie mix, QuePee. “I knew he was failing, but didn’t want to put him to sleep if he wasn’t ready,” says Macy. The communicator allayed his trepidation, telling him that QuePee was ready to go but didn’t want him to worry or be sad.
After Macy returned home from a heart-wrenching visit to the veterinarian, where he witnessed his furry friend’s final moments, he couldn’t help feeling comfort in his decision. “I’m so, so tired and frail,” QuePee had told Key. “Please tell him how much I love him … I’ve had such an amazing life as his sidekick.”
“Even if you do not have that kind of belief,” Macy says, “it’s a comfort speaking to someone that can tell you that yes, your pet is ready.”
Ruthanne Johnson is a freelance writer and total animal lover. She fosters beagles for the Colorado Beagle Rescue.
WANT TO GET IN TOUCH?
To find an animal communicator in your area, simply type the phrase “animal communicator” and your city’s name into your Internet browser; a few options should appear. There’s also an animal-communicator directory on animaltalk.net. Or you can ask family and friends for recommendations. Once you connect, here are a few tips to ensure the person you hire is a good fit for you and your pet:
· Not all communicators are equally well-trained or talented. Research and interview a few candidates before hiring just anyone.
· Ask about their background and experience, says Niwot animal communicator Kate Solisti. Longevity in the business is a good sign. Don’t be afraid to ask for references.
· Ask if they have any experience dealing with your pet’s specific issue. Most animal communicators have special areas of interest and expertise, so choose those whose backgrounds appeal to you.
· Ask about fees. “If someone is charging a very low price, that might send a red flag,” says Solisti. “And likewise with a very high price.”