When an animal suffers a loss.

While driving down a local road, I noticed two young raccoons that had been run over. Then I noticed their mother sitting on the road shoulder. She was desperately trying to get to her babies, clinging to the futile hope that they might be saved. In that brief moment I saw the grief not only in her eyes but energetically surrounding her. As surely as a human parent grieves the loss of a child (or children in this case), this mother was sitting vigil over her offspring.

I don’t know how long her vigil lasted. When I passed that way again, hours later, she was gone. The carcasses of her children remained. I know that when she left, her grief hung over her like a cloud. She would carry it with her in the short term at least.

It’s been my observation that most animals grieve a short time and then get on with their lives. Survival is uppermost in their minds which provides a pretty good distraction. When I chat with them, they will talk about their grief if it’s fresh, otherwise it doesn’t come up unless I specifically ask.

You may be wondering why I am musing on this topic. It is because when I mentioned it to my husband he had trouble conceiving of animals grieving. He admittedly had not given it much thought. But after living with an animal communicator, Moi, lo these many years I found it surprising. It got me to thinking that maybe his was probably the attitude of a great many other animal lovers, so on behalf of the animals I wanted to bring it up for your consideration. If it results in a more compassionate response to your animal friend when they have a loss that is enough.

Horses and their quirky personalities

More than any other animal I’ve encountered, horses have the quirkiest personalities. They are each so unique in their own way. Sometimes entertaining, sometimes exasperating, often times sweet and oh so loveable.

Misty, my heart horse, is by far the quirkiest in the herd. She is an alpha mare (translation very bossy), yet there are times she comes to me asking for love and attention. She absolutely knows that she is my favorite and takes full advantage of that fact.

Misty: "I'm special and I know it."
Misty: "I'm special and I know it."

Because she is alpha I have to be careful to maintain my role as über alpha. When she pushes the limits I often give her the mare squeal, literally or figuratively, depending upon my mood. She gets the message either way and usually responds with submissive body language.

It wasn’t always that way, we traveled a bumpy road to get to this place, but now her challenges to my authority are infrequent. Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Each day when I go out to feed, I bring Rusty and Merlyn out of the pasture because they get a larger portion. Usually I can just motion for them to come through the gate and they oblige. Sometimes they need a little encouragement. Rusty is so easy going that I can just grab a handful of mane and guide him out. Merlyn sometimes takes more persuasion because Arlo, the mini, snarls at him and he’s afraid to pass by. He cracks me up. He’s the tallest and he’s intimidated by tiny Arlo!

After I get the remaining herd members settled with their feed I go out the pasture gate, leaving it open, so that I can drive the tractor through and fill the hay boxes. Most days I’m able to time it so that I can leave the gate open while I put out the hay and then close it after I drive the tractor back through. It’s a routine I’ve worked out that is quick and efficient.

Then there are days like yesterday where one or more of the herd starts eying the extra food outside the gate and moseys on out while I’m haying. On this day I saw Toro get the idea and start heading for the gate. I hollered over to him that he really should rethink that. He stopped, mulled it over, then turned and walked back to his own feed. Smart boy and such a sweetheart. It always surprises me when he acquiesces like that. He is, after all, the herd leader and takes his job seriously, bossing the others around, sometimes because he can.

Misty, on the other hand, has a very different attitude. After watching the Toro episode she decided that she would go through the gate and help herself to some extra food. I hollered over to her that she needed to get her butt back. She didn’t even pause, just kept moseying on out and helped herself. She knows it will take me a few minutes to drive back out and do anything about her flagrant defiance. She was also sending me the message that surely I didn’t mean the rules to apply to her: my black beauty, my special princess. Surely she was entitled to special privileges. Sigh.

With that I hustled on over and told her in no uncertain terms that she was not entitled to ignore my wishes and defy my authority. My little princess has to follow the rules just like everyone else. Off she went with no hard feelings. It’s just her nature. She has to test the waters every once in a while to see if I’m serious about remaining über alpha. I am.

I love that mare!

Doing energy work the hard way…remotely.

I’ve used energy work with my animals for many years. It’s a simple but powerful tool, one of many I have in my “toolbox.” I primarily rely on EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), but there’s often some variation using other modalities I’ve picked up along the way.

While sharing energy work, the animals provide feedback in a variety of ways: body language, expressions on their face, softening in the eyes, sometimes moving away when they’ve had enough.

I’ve also performed energy work with people both in person and remotely. Since people are able to give accurate and immediate feedback it works very well. But until recently I had not had occasion to use it remotely with animals.

That all changed quite suddenly when I encountered two separate pets in one week that needed remote energy healing. It was a bit of a challenge and was quite intense. But the end results were oh so satisfying.

One was a horse that had been traumatized by a barn fire next door. All the horses perished in the fire and, due to the weather, burial was delayed quite a few days. Generally animals deal with death very philosophically and rebound quickly. But in this case the humans involved were understandably in turmoil which increased the angst for this horse.

She was very receptive to my ministrations and reported feeling some relief at the conclusion. Her owner confirmed that there was improvement. Over the next few days she continued to improve.

The other recipient was a dog with a mystery malady. His behavior was off and he clearly did not feel well. He couldn’t tell me exactly what was wrong but together we worked through several issues using energy work extensively. By the end of our session there was only minor improvement. Usually energy work will have a residual affect so that one session is often sufficient. However, in this instance I felt more was needed. Each day I checked in with him to see how he was feeling. There was steady improvement and I continued to perform energy work for several days. The dog reported relief a full day before his owner did. That’s the residual affect in action.

I have to say it was an exhausting week focusing so much healing energy in such a short time but it was also exhilarating being a part of that process.

No doubt there are more than a few people who will regard this anecdote with skepticism. That’s ok. We each have to follow the path that feels true. For me I know that it works and am forever grateful to those who have gone before and shared these powerful modalities with us.

When animals communicate in visual images

Often during a communication session an animal will send me a visual. Not a picture, it’s more like a video.

You know how in the movies people have a flashback and they see themselves interacting with other people? The scene always looks in on them from an observer’s perspective rather than through their eyes, which you would expect if it’s a memory.

If Misty were to send this memory
If Misty sent this memory it would be from this type of perspective.

I am shown a visual of the animal as if I’m watching a scene in a movie. These visuals are always in color and are extremely detailed.

I have no way of knowing whether what they have shown me is literal or figurative. Is it an actual memory or a metaphor, symbolic of something else? I am just the translator and relay what I have heard, seen or felt.

If the visual is literal, things are very straightforward and the message is quite clear. However, more times than not it is figurative. Of course it is because it would be too easy otherwise, right?! As a communicator, this part can be really fun or extremely frustrating. There is no way I can accurately interpret the meaning myself. It requires the owner being open minded and doing a little sleuthing with me so that we can examine the clues and piece together the message.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important this step is. When an animal goes to the trouble of sending such detailed messages they want to be heard.

So why am I going on about this? Because people are naturally skeptical about communication. When they get a message that seems to make no sense it is very easy to walk away and decide that it was just so much nonsense. If that happens, they have lost the opportunity to get the very answers they were seeking.

Let me give you an example (details changed for privacy purposes):

Recently I was communicating with Abigail, a dog who had been acting strangely. During our communication Abigail sent me a number of very detailed visuals. I faithfully recorded them to share with her “mom,” Lydia.

Lydia was confused and disappointed as the behaviors in the visuals sounded nothing like Abigail. But she had asked about her previous dog, Jacy, who had transitioned. She wondered whether Abigail was the reincarnation of Jacy?

Abigail did not answer this question directly. But, since Lydia had asked about Jacy, I wondered if perhaps the visuals were from Jacy’s life or symbolic of her life. As it turns out, the behaviors were indeed reminiscent of Jacy.

Why didn’t Abigail simply answer the question about her identity? Perhaps she believed that Lydia needed more than a yes or no answer. The end result was certainly more satisfying than a simple yes or no.

I am very grateful to Lydia who was willing to take the time to work through the message to make sure she got the full answer that Abigail intended and to Abigail for sharing so freely.

The long drought

I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post. I had such a nice flow going for a while but as often happens, life intervenes. I got busy and blog posts became a low priority.

It was a time of self improvement and very positive changes. I lost a lot of weight, finally. A battle that I have never before been able to win. I am now healthier and more vibrant. Definitely more flexible and I over came my nemesis: “fear of cantering” and actually had a lovely gallop on Toronado. It was glorious and I look forward to many more such joyful experiences.

Riding Rusty before 180
After with granddaughter Francesca
After with granddaughter Francesca

For the first time I joined a SWTRA trail ride at Promised Land state park. I’ve been a member of that club for years and never managed to attend a ride. It was about time!

My friend, Donna, rode Toro and I rode Rusty. I was pretty nervous as neither had been ridden much for over a year. Rusty has a turbo charged engine at times and others he’s calm. Thankfully on that day he was a perfect angel. With his long strides he quickly crept up on the horse in front of him, but he was so light and responsive I merely had to crook my finger on the reins and he collected beautifully and fell back to a comfortable distance.

I was able to get Merlyn back under saddle. A major feat as every time I tried to mount he bucked wildly. At my former size I didn’t have the athletic ability to stay with him. Finally as the weight came off I decided to just start him from scratch as if he’d never been ridden. Amazing how solutions come when obstacles are removed.

Using my new strategy I was able to sit on him within a few days. He was calm but my heart was pounding. Just days later I saddled him up and took a short ride around the barnyard. It was pure joy and he acted as if we’d been doing it everyday forever. Silly boy!

Riding Merlyn
Merlyn back under saddle

Now that winter has finally arrived in the Poconos things are slowing down a little and it seemed a good opportunity to update my readers. I hope that 2012 finds you well, thriving and thoroughly enjoying your animal friends.

Horses Train People

Have you ever noticed how our pets subtly train us? They are way more intelligent than we realize. When you step back and analyze, it becomes obvious they are using behavior modification techniques, and quite effectively. They are so good at it that often we just go with the flow with no awareness that our pet has just shaped our behavior.

I was pondering all of this after a recent incident with Jasmyn, our youngest filly. She is really enjoying the new run-in shelter I set up for the winter and spends more time there than the rest of the herd. They are not crazy about the acoustics and freak out every time the snow goes sliding off the roof. Jasmyn is the sensible one and does not let such trivialities bother her.

Being the brainy girl that she is, Jasmyn decided that it would be a great idea if I were to feed her in the run-in so she could eat undisturbed. She put her plan into action simply and effectively. When it came feeding time she left the herd and went into the run-in and waited. She knew I would  be coming there to put the buckets away and see her waiting. I did and was happy to feed her there. Step one of her plan was completed.

The next day as I was feeding I looked around and noticed Jasmyn was missing. I called out to her and heard her high-pitched whinney in return (she’s the vocal one in our herd). She was waiting in the run-in again. So of course I went in and fed her there marveling at her resourcefulness. She now has me trained to feed her in her own private dining room and I do it gladly. Step two completed, plan fully implemented, behavior modification complete.

What will she come up with next?

Because our feet are cold

This week in the Poconos temperatures dipped below freezing and remained there. It was a sudden change with which some two legged, as well as four legged, creatures struggled to adapt.

The horses were doing well as was Saphyre. But the birds were having a rougher time. This was brought to my attention by a little brown, quite chubby, bird. She was perched on Misty’s back as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She must have sat there for at least fifteen minutes before Rusty got curious and went over to investigate. This disturbed the little bird enough that she flitted over to Rusty’s generous rump and perched there.

Thoroughly entertained and intrigued, the humans headed indoors to warm up with hot chocolate and mostly forgot about the little bird.

Later that day as the horses were being fed I noticed yet another bird, this time perched on Toro’s back. How funny! This made me wonder whether the birds were trying to communicate some important message to me so I paused to ask.

Their answer: “Because our feet are cold.”

Sometimes the answer is truly that simple and sometimes we really need to take ourselves less seriously. It was a good lesson.

Interspecies Communication with “Frog”

Did you ever wonder about the life of frogs? Do they know that some people think they are lucky? What do frogs think about the state of the world?

I was pondering these questions and decided it was high time I just asked the frogs to see what they had to say. Their answers were not quite what I expected, but interesting nonetheless. So without further ado here is what the frogs had to say:

It is of little consequence to the frog what humans think. We live very much in our own space and time. Humans exist on the fringes of our world and we take little notice. We are not terribly disturbed by the state of the world. We notice that one season is different from another but do not concern ourselves with long range thought such as comparing one year to another. Many do not survive past the first year of life.

We are just enjoying the ride like shooting down a water slide. When we reach the end we get back up and jump into another incarnation and take the trip all over again. Our needs are simple and uncomplicated. We are optimists and look for the joy in each moment but are also realistic enough to know that survival rates are low for our offspring thus we produce voluminous egg sacks to ensure that at least some of our DNA survives.

We have a well-defined culture and observe certain rituals but otherwise are free to live, love and laugh. We like nothing better than feasting on plump, juicy flies. That brings great satisfaction as well as a full belly. What more could any frog want?

Communicating with pets after their death

Yellow Tabby
Yellow Tabby

I am fascinated by communications with pets who have transitioned. Having left all the worldly cares behind some are off and running towards their next life experience. Some pause to watch over their loved ones who need comfort as they grieve. Still others need time to recuperate. The experiences are as varied as the creatures themselves.

Owners so often agonize over making “the decision.” Is it the right time? Am I being selfish to wait? Animals understand intention. If the intention is good then they can easily make peace with your decision.

I am reminded of the transitioned dog I communicated with who was in shock. There was no warning. Just a quick trip to the vet and it was over. It would have eased her transition had her owners spent just a few minutes explaining to her what was about to happen. But even then she was able to get past it and explore her new world.

A cat I visited with shortly before his death was simply furious at finding himself trapped. He fussed and fumed and struggled with everything he had in him until he became resigned to his impending death. The next time I communicated with him he had transitioned and was totally at peace. His only concern was for his grieving “mom” who was inconsolable that she had been unable to find his body. He wanted her to understand that the body was no longer important and to please not try to find it as that would only cause her more pain. He urged her to adopt another feline soon and move forward rather than stay stuck in the past with her grief.

There are many more stories, some I will share in future posts. But, before I conclude, I wanted to pass along a message from the spirit animal’s perspective on the topic:

They feel the burden of your grief and worry like a string tethering them to your world. It is up to the human to do their part to let go and allow their pet to move on. Letting go is more than just making the decision to euthanize. It is thanking them for their presence in your life, for the joy and memories. then letting go and moving on with your life. You do no honor to your pet by remaining stuck in grief and depression. If you need them to spend time with you in spirit they are perfectly willing to do that, most of the time. Again you must allow it and then acknowledge their gift. Appreciate that they are giving more of their attention to you than to moving on and do not take advantage of it. Use the time to pull yourself together and move on. Know that they are perfectly happy for you to find another pet. In fact you do them great honor by doing so. It means that you are willing to open your heart to another and share the love as you did with them. You can do them no greater honor.

Do not agonize over whether to get another pet. If you feel another would fit into your life then go ahead and do it. The sooner the better as you will begin the healing process and then your transitioned pet will be able to move on that much quicker. If they feel they left you worse off than when they found you they will feel dishonored.  It’s like a black cloud hanging over them. It means they did not do their part in your life to prepare you for moving forward. They do not want to hold you back. They want you to continue growing and expanding just as they are. That is the greatest gift you can give them once they have crossed over.

Have you communicated with a pet who has transitioned? Was it what you expected? Did it give you comfort? I’d love to hear your story. Please click on comments below to share your experience.

Oh those doodles

We’ve all seen those ads in the paper. The perfect family dog. They must be amazing, practically magical, just look at how valuable they are. Doesn’t your family deserve one?

Retrievers are wonderful family dogs… unless you have allergies. Poodles are nice but they’re too frou frou looking. It sounds like a good idea. Mix these two great breeds together and you get a fabulous retriever that is hypoallergenic, right?

Not exactly.

Standard Poodle in a show trim.
Standard Poodle in a show trim.

There simply is no guarantee which attributes the offspring will have. Some may have the perfect nonshedding, hypoallergenic coat, others may be a combination. Aside from the allergy issues, there are a myriad of health concerns that may come from one or both sides of the equation. Hip dysplasia and seizures are just two of the conditions the breeds share. Dogs from lines having such devastating health problems should not be bred, let alone crossed with another dog carrying the same genetic traits. Reputable breeders will replace a dog if genetic defects appear. They want and need to know so they can adjust their breeding program accordingly.

“Designer” mixes are on the rise. There are labradoodles, goldendoodles, newfydoodles, even saintberdoodles (huh?!), just oodles of doodles. Isn’t it interesting that what they have in common is the standard poodle? If the poodle is so special why not just get a Poodle? They are very smart and versatile. It’s possible to purchase a purebred, health tested poodle for less than a doodle.

If it’s the frou frou thing that has you bothered fuhgeddaboutit. There is no rule about how to keep the coat, unless you plan on showing. Your dog doesn’t need bracelets or poms or poufy top knots. In fact you can clip them short all over for a very low maintenance style.

Standard Poodle in a short trim. Photo by Sherri Regalbuto
Standard Poodle in a short trim. Decidedly not frou frou.

Photo by Sherri Regalbuto.

So “doodle” if you must, but do your homework. Investigate the lineage of both sides of the equation. Make sure the dogs have been health tested. Ask about replacement if genetic problems arise down the road. If your breeder does not stand behind their puppies you need to know that before you fall in love with that cute little ball of fluff. Remember, today’s designer dog is yesterday’s mutt. (It’s not just poodles that are getting all mixed up. Click here for more on this topic.)

After you’ve found your perfect dog, don’t forget to have your favorite communicator help smooth out any bumps in your relationship. It can make all the difference.

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