My Wild Backyard

We have a wild backyard! I wish I had a photo of everyone who has stopped by, but some pass through so quickly we never get a chance to snap the photo. Some of the more interesting visitors I have seen but not yet photographed are; coyotes, moose, bobcats, and blue heron. We also have the usual chipmunks, snakes, mice, and many varieties of birds including blue birds and goldfinch.

So here it is, my wild backyard… (This is the real deal people, many of the photos were taken from inside the house through the windows; because just because I can communicate with animals does not make standing next to wild bears a good idea!)

wildbabydeer

wilddeer

wildbear

wildturkey

wildrabbit

wildrabbitcleaning

wildbird

wildbutterfly

wildspider

How Henry Came to Be “Ours”

Our animal friend’s come to us in so many different ways don’t they? For me, I have inherited a cat, been given a horse, selected animals from shelters, purchased a riding donkey, had a cat walk in as a stray and so on…

A few months ago we were ready to get a new cat and we wanted to be sure the new one got along well with Owen (rambunctious male kitten) and we needed the new guy to be comfortable in an active household with young kids. Also he needed to be rabbit friendly. And we wanted the new cat to be the right match for our daughter Sierra. It was a tall order to fill!

We went to the shelter after being tipped off about a half grown kitten that might be a good match. We went into the room with the kitten and two other cats. That kitten might have been one of the cutest cats I have ever seen (aesthetically speaking). And he was friendly and playful. Most likely a reasonable match for our family. There was also a fat, slight disheveled cat there who immediately walked up to me and pressed his forehead into my leg. Then pressed his face into Sierra’s hands. While the kitten we came to see danced around and largely ignored the children, this other guy stayed committed to his cause of getting to know us. I asked Sierra to look into her heart and ask which cat was truly best for her, not considering the physical appearance (she was hooked on the cuteness of the kitten). She was quickly able to see that Henry was meant to be with us!

henry1      henry3)

Henry came home that day and immediately became one of my most beloved friends. He is the perfect match for Sierra, he loves sitting on laps, he plays wonderfully with Owen, and he is stunning to look at. As for getting along with the rabbit… well that didn’t go so well at first. When Henry went snooping in Ton Ton’s food dish, the rabbit chased him down, knocked him over, and jumped on him. Needless to say that was terrifying for Henry. They have since worked out a reasonable relationship, but Henry is sure to stay away from the rabbit’s food!

henry4)

Isn’t it fantastic when the perfect beings enter our lives just when we need them most? (Like this little Cinderella and her Prince Charming.)

henry2

Mallory’s Teeth

Mallory has been with me almost 2 years now, and for most of that time she has been telling me that chewing is uncomfortable. I had her teeth filed by a horse dentist about a month after she came. Then a second filing a few months later. And yet another filing by a vet about 8 months after that. Still she let me know chewing was not comfortable. Better, for sure, but not right. (I am not implying that these professionals didn’t do a good job; the issue in her mouth was complicated and was not easily resolved.)

Mallory

In the summer of 2012 she started limping with her hind legs. The vet said it was locking stifles (knees). He told us to walk up and down hills everyday. That helped but she was still sore.

Then, I talked with a horse chiropractor, Bud Allen, and I asked him which I should do first; another dental or an adjustment for the hind end. He said dental first. So I hired a third dentist to come check her out. He does things a bit differently than the other dental filings she had had. He uses a Dremel tool. He felt he could help her but the proposed job had risks. He was going to file down some teeth quite a bit and whether it helped or not, the job was irreversible. Mallory and I felt it was worth a chance; she really wanted to feel better.

So we did it! And the week following the dental was not great. She had trouble chewing. She had a bit of liquid in her manure due to the lack of chewing her food well. I was worried but she said she had much less pain. She and I decided it was a matter of her getting used to chewing in a new way. Sure enough, after one week she stopped dropping her food and her manure firmed up.

You haven’t heard the best part yet; her locking stifles resolved within three days of doing the dental! I never even needed to have the chiropractic adjustment. Bud Allen had told me that the jaw and hind quarters interact with one another but this result blew me away.

Needless to say, Mallory and I are very happy with the results. But I do want you to know that this is a personal, individual story, and is not meant to be advice about dentals or locking stifles. And Mallory and I promised each other before the “extreme” dental that we would not look back with regret if it didn’t work. Of course it did work, but I am sure we would have kept our promise if it hadn’t.

Requesting a Behavior Change

In my Animal Communication Workshops I offer a segment on Requesting Behavior Changes. Of course the workshop provides a lot more in-depth information, but I wanted to share an idea from the workshop that you can apply with your own animal friends.

Animals do not have the same culture as we do. You acting unhappy or telling your animal that the situation is “making” you unhappy, will not motivate change. They will perceive your mood as related to who you are being at that moment, not as a commentary on them. In other words they will look at you and think, “Unhappy person”, not, “Oh look how my behavior is upsetting them”. They will not hold themselves accountable for your unhappiness because animals don’t believe that they control human moods.

calvin

This might be confusing because you have experienced animals offering you comfort when you are sad. They are offering a behavior that makes sense to them- being loving- but they are still not believing that they “control” your mood.

So, if you are wanting to change a situation the first step is getting emotionally in sync with what you want. If you want peace when two cats are fighting; then FEEL peaceful. If you want your dog to be less scared; then FEEL confident and calm. After you achieve the emotional state you can move on to communicating what you want with your animal. (Getting the emotional part without the communication can result in behavior changes.)

Hopefully I will see some of you at one of my workshops soon! Until then, be peaceful and enjoy your animal friends.

Ichabod Gets Lost

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Ichabod is a 6-year-old Mammoth donkey from Connecticut. He came directly from his breeder, and other than going to competitions this is his first new home. After the first few days, he started settling in and I decided to give him a tour. I walked him on lead around the 7-9 acre pasture. He looked around and seemed quite happy with the place.

Later that day the herd (pony and two donkeys), crossed the stream to graze on the far pasture. That night I went to feed them and Ichabod was missing. I asked him where he was and got the reply “lost”. Did you break through the fence? “No”. Good, I thought, he is still in the pasture. I went out into the pitch dark field looking for a black donkey. It felt a bit hopeless. I called out his name but got no response. It was really dark, but I heard a little rustle. Ichabod came up next to me. He was so scared. He gladly followed me back over the stream and once he oriented he took off sprinting for the barn.

I gave my pony, Mallory, a stern talk. “How could you leave him alone in the pasture? From now on all friends must stay together.” She told me she understood.

The next day I called them in before dark, and the two came running across the stream without Ichabod. Then Mallory turned around, went to the bridge and gave the big guy and encouraging whinny. She waited for him to cross before continuing on to the barn. I could hardly believe my eyes! She is such a special pony.

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Walking to the Bus Stop

My daughter started kindergarten this year and we have come up with a very fun way of getting to the bus stop. The spot where we meet the bus is a 1/4 mile away but we don’t have to go on any roads. We can walk through our horse pasture, duck under the fence, and emerge at the bus stop. Of course traveling with animals is more fun, so we bring the donkey and pony with us. Mallory (the pony) enjoys the walk very much- I bring her on a lead rope and Burrito follows along behind us. One day we decided not to bring the animals because they were still eating their hay. They were both very upset. They stood at the gate watching us walk away without them. Mallory whinnied for us four times. I promised we would not leave without them again.

to the busstop

Below are a series of photos documenting our journey to the bus stop on October 4th. It was a foggy morning with lots of dew, but by the time we got to the bus stop, the blue sky was visible. There were lots of spider webs covered in dew.

First we greet the pony (and donkey).

Pony behind Cobweb

Then we make our way across the field (usually I am in the middle leading the pony, but someone had to take the photo!)

Kids with Donkey and Pony

We stop to enjoy nature.

Leaves

Across the stream on our homemade bridge.

Bridge

Finally we are almost there! Just duck under the fence and past the church to the parking lot.

Bus Stop

Looking back we can see our house tucked in behind the trees. Hannah and I will head back after Sierra gets on the bus. The donkey and pony will stay behind and spend some time grazing.

Mountain view

Childhood Friendships

My best friend growing up was my cat. His name was Vidal and he was my older “brother”. He put me to bed every night, then after I fell asleep, my mom said he would head out hunting.

Dawn and Vidal

Me and Vidal about one year before he passed away (when I was 12).

I am thrilled that my children have the opportunity to have special animal relationships in their lives. I think animals offer the perfect balance of love and understanding. They also clearly teach the children that they need to treat them well and offer them understanding too. My girls have great relationships with all of our animals, but each of them has a special friend.

Hannah and Owen  have been bonded since he arrived as a kitten this spring. His timing is impeccable- he always shows up for her when she is sad or when no one else will play with her. He is incredibly patient while she builds impractical forts for him (he usually obliges her and climbs in!)

Hannah and Owen

Hannah and Owen

Sierra and Burrito have a special friendship. When he first arrived at our home (also this spring) he didn’t know anyone, but he quickly chose Sierra as his favorite. He stands quietly to receive her hugs and they are the perfect height for hugging one another. He is happy to follow her around and lets her touch his soft nose (a privilege only Sierra has).

Sierra and Burrito

This sense of “best friend” is why I have animals in my home. It is just so magical whether I am a child or a grown-up to feel that special bond with an animal. Of course one of the big lessons in having a childhood love is learning to endure the loss of that friend and discovering that it is possible to bond again. Sierra had to learn that one early when she lost Bramley. I am grateful that she stayed open and found love again in donkey form.Sierra and Burrito

Understand your animal’s thoughts; learn how they are feeling, what they need, and who they really are.

photos of animals A phone consultation with me is an opportunity to communicate directly with your animal companions by way of telepathy. You can get questions answered about their viewpoints on environment, behaviors, food, health, and how they think.  A consultation is an opportunity for you and your animal to better understand each other, creating a deeper bond or better partnership.

At the time of your appointment, we will connect on the phone and go from what is known about the situation from your viewpoint, to what the animal thinks about the situation.  While I am talking to your animal I will be quiet for a couple of minutes, during this time you can simply stay on the line.  Then, I will share with you what your animal friend has said.  There will be ample opportunity for you to ask more questions. I can tune in to your animal friends and find out issues important to them, but you asking specific questions that are important to you facilitate a consultation. Animal companions might not talk about your areas of concern unless you focus their attention on them.

Read more about how it works here.

animal photos

Note: Information on health is intended only to express the animal’s experience, not to replace veterinary diagnostic work or treatment.  Behavior changes can take time and work for everyone, consultations are intended to help you and your animals understand each other better, and while behaviors often change rapidly, results are dependent on the individuals involved.  I do not consult with animals belonging to someone other than the caller (with the exception of animals available for adoption).

I post cute pictures on Facebook too!

A Day with the Dolphins

Photos by the Mirage Hotel

Dawn with Dolphin

I was a dolphin trainer for the day at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas last month.  I have been really excited to share these photos and this adventure with all of you.

The Mirage has a beautiful dolphin habitat.  They are a research and breeding facility and are open to the public for visits, but don’t offer dolphin performances (the public can watch training sessions).

When I arrived there I wanted to cover the most important question first: are the dolphins happy and are they treated well?  The dolphins’ answer: yes.  They are happy overall, but sometimes as individuals they have issues arise that lead to unhappy moments.  (Very similar to the rest of us I would say.)

When I connect telepathically with animals, I receive the “messages” as feelings.  When I am offering a consultation, I do my best to translate those feelings into words and sentences so I can share the information.  During this dolphin experience I had no desire to translate.  I allowed myself to just experience the feelings of the dolphins.  That was glorious, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it leaves me wondering what to say to all of you!

As I look at dolphins it is hard to resist personifying them.  The physical characteristics of their mouth makes them look like they have a big happy smile.  When I tuned in with the dolphins it was easy to realize that the way they display and experience joy and affection is different from us.  The smiles, hugs and kisses that you see in these photos are trained behaviors.  They are not actual displays of affection (because dolphins aren’t humans, they don’t share our body language).  The dolphins that I worked with mostly enjoyed the trained behaviors because they are highly reinforced with fish and mental stimulation (learning).

The times when I felt affection from the dolphins were moments where we were quiet together, just floating and understanding one another.  For the most part I witnessed the dolphins having more of a working relationship with humans and more of a family relations amongst themselves.  The male dolphins also had some pod disagreements with each another.

At first I was concerned about them being captive.  I wasn’t sure if being kept in this way was the best life for them (there are pros and cons for dolphins in captivity).  The dolphins we were working with were born in captivity.  However, that does not mean they don’t innately know of the bigger ocean.    I have felt the same feeling of “missing the big world” from domestic birds and cats.  Even cats who have never been outdoors will long for hunting in the grass.  Does it mean these dolphins or your apartment cats would do well if set free?  No.  However, when trying to understand these creatures, it is helpful to keep in mind what their natural setting is meant to be.

On a personal note, I gained a sense of inner peace from my experience with the dolphins that was truly profound.  As some of you know from facebook, my cat Number Five died a few weeks before I trained with the dolphins.  I have chosen not to talk about the details of his passing because I find that for now, I bring myself back into distress when I talk about it.  After his passing I was having daily panic attacks.  I was really stressed by my trauma over the events surrounding his death (he is at peace and not traumatized).  Communicating with him helped, but I was still holding onto my own trauma.  Immediately after the first training session with the dolphins I felt peace over his passing and have not had a panic attack since.

Dolphin trainer for the day = best day ever!

Note: I paid to be a dolphin trainer for a day just like any other person. I received no compensation for this post and I am not specifically endorsing this program (I am simply sharing a personal experience.)

Animal Training

Training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies.    -Wikipedia

Mallory

I have animal training on my mind lately, as I have been playing with clicker training my two cats, two horses, and one rabbit. Clicker training is a system of training using a sound marker for a yes answer followed by something the animal likes as a reinforcement of the behavior (usually food).  My cats like the concept of treats being handed out but haven’t become interested in the idea of performing a task. I will probably let those two have a free pass (they are cats after all).  Mallory, our pony, enjoys the training immensely. She shows up every day excited to learn.  Mostly we just play with tricks. She nods her head “yes” and we are currently working on “no” so we can have silly conversations (she does not comprehend the meaning of the head nods, to her it is just a trick). She also enjoys obstacle courses. Cat, our other horse, enjoys the training but gets a bit stuck sometimes. I am looking into her gut health as I feel she may have something going on preventing her from enjoying food. And then there is Ton Ton! He is by far the fastest learner in my household.  He is crazy for clicker training, and can’t wait to get to work. He vigorously reminds me if I have forgotten a session.

Some wonder why I would clicker train my animals when I can communicate telepathically with them. And for me the answer is “mostly for fun”.  Why go for a hike with a friend when you can just sit around and talk? Because, most beings in this physical world enjoy being physical.  Why not train them telepathically instead of clicker training? Well I do train telepathically too, but often learning to do a physical activity is easier when practiced not just conceptualized. With my horses the training also has practical applications, helping then understand behaviors that keep us all safe.

Most cats seem to prefer telepathic training over physical, and with any species telepathy is always helpful to jump start a training session.  Understanding in advance what is planned can help the animal learn faster in the physical session. Here is the condensed version of how to train using telepathy:  Simply mediate with the animal in mind, and show them what you want by imagining a movie filled with emotions, sounds, sights, and smells. Focus only on what you want and the emotion associated with what you want. Repeat this every day until the animal understands. At my animal communication workshops we expand on that simple training meditation.

Some people resist clicker training as they feel they shouldn’t have to pay their animal for doing their job, they should just do it out of love, loyalty, or morality. Look at the example of a dog coming when called: some say the dog should just want to “come” because he loves them.  Well here is what the dogs think: I love my person. I also love to chase squirrels, and when the opportunity arises I will do that, and then I will go to my person. My person’s love will always be there but this squirrel is fleeting. The dog is treating your calling him to come as optional because it is part of a loving relationship not part of a job (not well reinforced). So, here’s the deal: we all like to be paid for our work. The payment reinforces the behavior. Animals don’t care about money, so food is a good universal currency. Yes, some animals will accept physical affection and play as payment too. Horses often accept rest (a break), release of pressure, or praise as reinforcement (but honestly most still prefer food!)

For some animals and people training is optional and just for fun. For certain dogs and horses it is essential for them to learn how to live safely amongst humans. Fortunately, most dogs and horses also feel more comfortable and confident when they have a job and know how to do their job.  Being trained does not take away from their individual personality or enjoyment of life, it just helps them live more easily in domesticity. Also, relating with humans in such direct ways, through various training methods, can be very fun and enriching.

If you have naturally well behaved, safe animals living with you then fantastic, you can enjoy them as they are (like my cats) or you can train for fun (like my rabbit). If you have a horse or dog who needs to understand you in order to be safe, please consider combining telepathy with positive reinforcement training.

Mallory Riding

Mallory and Sierra have a riding/training session every afternoon. Here we are backing up on a loose lead. Sierra is holding onto a balance rein which has not been introduced as a cue for Mallory yet.

TonTon

Check out a video of Ton Ton training.