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.

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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.

Bramley’s Eulogy

I brought Bramley home when he was just a baby. I wanted him to bond with me and feel comfortable in our home, so I paid constant attention to him. I literally pet and hugged him every 45 minutes all day for weeks. I remember the first time he licked me- right on the nose. It was so surprising and cute!  Eventually licking became his signature affection/obsession. He was so friendly- as soon as anyone showed him affection, he would lick them. Only a month before his passing he licked his vet when the vet took a moment to pet him during an exam. Bramley knew how to make everyone feel special, and it was so genuine- he really loved people.

Throughout his life he was magnetic- charismatic- impressive. Without exception, everyone who met him was in awe. We had a door to door vacuum salesman forget his job and play with Bramley- he sent photos on his cell phone to his wife! At the time this attention was often attributed to his gigantic size, but the day he left his body I realized that it was all about the spirit that was shining through that magnificent physical form.  His vet was out of town the day he needed help out of his body. We went to a new clinic, and each person who saw him reacted just as people always had- tremendous admiration. His spirit shined so bright they barely noticed his emaciated body- they just saw the beauty that we had always seen.  Then, when he left his body I watched as his face changed. His body just looked like a rabbit- no longer so charismatic and amazing. I felt so much relief when I saw that because it was confirmation that who I loved all these years was Bramley’s spirit- not the body. (It would have been so hard to bury him if his face hadn’t changed.)

It is feels impossible to quantify how much Bramley gave to our family. He loved our daughters and took an active role in raising them since they were babies. He loved our kittens and cuddled with them often- creating photos that have delighted thousands. He assisted my animal communication workshops. He laid on my chest and cuddled me every evening. He snuggled Tim. He would get excited when he heard fruit and vegetables being chopped on the cutting board. He wrote a book, Bramley’s Little Sister.

Bramley’s personality was so simple and obvious. Telepathy with him was only a bonus- everyone could easily interpret his thoughts through his actions. His wisdom was in his love and generosity. I have always enjoyed sharing photos of Bramley, because so much of what he had to offer can transcend even the two dimensional limitations of a photo.

Even knowing his spirit lives on, even enjoying my memories, even looking at the photos… cannot take away the painful feeling that he is not here physically anymore.  I talk with clients so often about losses like this, I have been in this place many times myself, and each time I think I can’t possibly have another animal in my life that I could love as much- and then I do.  I will always love Bramley- and right now it hurts to lose his furry body, however we know he lives on in spirit and memory.

Animals Communicating with Each Other

I communicate with animals telepathically, but can animals communicate with each other telepathically?  Yes!

Many households are comprised of several species.  In my case we have humans (adults, toddler, baby), cats, rabbit, and the (outdoor) horses.  And everyone communicates with everyone.  Mostly, however, the animals are just “being”; not chatting, gossiping, thinking…

My experience has been that many species use their natural languages: voice, body language, and telepathy to convey in the moment thoughts with one another.  They don’t tend to discuss experiences, or thoughts outside of the present.  They do say, “hey, let’s snuggle together”; they don’t tend to say, “hey, did you notice our person bought a new car last week?”

So if they can communicate with each other, then why don’t they get along?  Well, I am sure you can think of a few experiences where you lived with someone who spoke the same language as you, and yet you found yourself not getting along!  Telepathic communication does not replace instincts such as cats being afraid of dogs who chase them, cats feeling territorial when a new cat arrives, dogs distrusting the UPS guy, etc.  For the sake of survival it is a good thing that your hamster doesn’t try negotiating a peace agreement with the huntress cat telepathically (although I have seen a few succeed at that!)

Here are a few recent stories of inter-species communications from my own household:

Calvin and Number Five are one-year-old brothers.  Recently Calvin hurt his paw in a harrowing experience.  In the process of that event his body literally smelled like fear.  When he came back into contact with Number Five, the reunion was anything but loving.  Five smelled him and then attacked him.  He was reacting to the smell of fear.  This is a common cat exchange that puzzles many of my clients.  If they can communicate with one another why is Five being so “mean”?  Well, this is a natural, instinctual reaction to the smell of fear.   For Five it was not a time for “talking”, it was a time for immediate action.
I separated them for the moment, and communicated with both of them about what had happened and what needed to happen from then on.  I assured Five that he was safe and did not need to attack his brother.  Later that day I found them sleeping on opposite sides of our bed.  I needed to go upstairs for a few minutes and Sierra offered to take care of Calvin.  She gave him her favorite bunny and read him a book (Five was there, in the background of this photo).

After Five had witnessed Sierra’s calm kind way of being with Calvin, he got up and cuddled with his brother.

Bramley and the cats often communicate through touch and telepathy.  Bramley is often asking the cats to snuggle with him.  This photo series captures a moment where Calvin was crowding Bramley and being a little too “paws on”.  Bramley telepathically told Calvin to move over and Calvin replied by nuzzling his cheek.  Bramley gave in and tucked his face in for a good long afternoon of cat cuddling!

My neighbor’s horses are so much fun to watch while they graze in my field.  My favorite is when they challenge each other to a race.  The start line is about 100 yards away at the brook and the finish line is just before the fence near my house.  One will “say” go, and the other three will follow.  The other day I saw Spike get a late start, and he charged with all his might.  When he saw Hawk cross the finish line he was still about 15 yards behind.  He was so mad he started bucking.  I could literally see them all discussing the race results!

Horses, like most herd animals, are in constant contact with one another.  They are always deciding where to go; the brook, in the barn, the shade, the apple tree, etc.  They all take turns watching for predators, and they take care of one another when one wants to lay down for a nap.  They also bicker sometimes, but they say it is all part of being a herd.

The Many Gifts of May

In December 1997 I was graduating from college and preparing to move from my family home into my own apartment.  I was setting up my animal communication practice and looking forward to new adventures.  We had three cats and a rabbit at my family home but none of them were available to come live with me.  I started hoping for a cat friend.

Several weeks later a six-month old gray kitten followed our neighbors and their Golden Retriever into my father’s workshop during a snowstorm.  As soon as I met her I was in love.  She told me that her name was May.

The two of us were fast friends and we moved together into a small apartment with my friend and her Chihuahua.  May could not have been happier.  She loves dogs!  Several months later one of my clients had a pregnant cat, the kittens were born on July 19th 1998 .  At four weeks old, May and I agreed on a kitten- Nikita, but waited until he was eight weeks old before he came home to live with us.  A few months later on November 1, 1998 I met my husband, Tim.  The four of us became a family.

Over the years we all welcomed a few new family members, and had a few losses along the way as well. The four of us remained a unit until May 4, 2009.  That is the day we said farewell to May in her physical form.  She has been by my side for all of my “grown-up” life; my business, my marriage, raising children, everything.  I don’t think I can explain how much I appreciate her, and love her in spirit, and yet miss her so much here in the physical realm.

One week before May died she told me that she was ill and dying.  For two days it felt inevitable and surreal at the same time, she didn’t really look that bad (and she was only 12).  I decided I needed to know why- medically- she was dying so I took her to her vet.  Dr Phillips confirmed the situation and told me that May’s heart was failing.  There was nothing to be done, and May had already told me that.  We went home together hoping to have a few good weeks.  We only had two days, and May couldn’t breathe, so we took her to the vet to help her leave her body.  She felt tremendous relief and peace upon leaving her body.

May was a partner in my animal communication practice, she gave input on consultations sometimes, and was almost always on my lap or desk during work.  She was teacher to those who attended my workshops, she often taught one or two of the connecting with an animal segments.  She was a friend to Bramley and Nikita, a quiet observer of my children, a companion to my husband and I, and she gave me a big warm hug every night before bed.  I have so many photos of her and I wish I had more.  I have many memories of her and still wish for more.

Our first photo together in January 1998.

May loved Tim.  She also loved Bramley, and gave him a gentle forehead bump as a greeting everyday.

As the co-founder of Dawn’s Animal Connection, May often slept on the job.

Nikita grieved for May for several weeks, but has recovered and is starting to befriend the kittens.

It took May almost a year to fully accept Sierra, but eventually they became very good friends.  Sierra’s gentle ways and appreciation for May brought them together.  The morning that we took May to the vet, we told Sierra that it was time for May to leave her body.  As we bustled around trying to get ready, Sierra sang Twinkle Twinkle to sooth May.  I happened to catch the moment on video (click here to see this video).

Photo on Right: Sierra age 1 with May.

After Hannah was born my lap was in high demand.  Here you can see May was making the best of it.