Living with Humans

My mission is to help people and animals understand each other.  More specifically I enjoy assisting my clients reach household harmony and happiness through mutual understanding.  Many of the animals that I work with are what we call “pets”.  Their primary reason for being invited into the homes of my clients is to become a member of the family, a companion.  This is not to say that they don’t have other roles, but they are not used for work, meat, products, transportation, etc.  The animals are invited to live with their people, and once there they should be treated like family.

I treasure the friendship my companion animals offer me (two cats and a rabbit).  In return I make an effort to give them the best comforts of domestic life, including food, grooming, medical attention, and training.  I believe that “training” is one of the most important things you can offer your animal friends.  Imagine how stressful it would be if you had never learned any social skills as a child.  What if you had never learned to use a toilet, to shake hands, or to eat with silverware?  Your life could be really difficult.  For the same reasons your parents and teachers taught you how to “be” in your own culture, you need to teach your animal friends how to behave with humans.

A concerned client once said, “We don’t want to do any obedience training with our dog because it might ruin his personality.”  As long as kind methods of teaching and mutual understanding continue, the personality will remain intact.  If you do not teach your animals how to live in a people world, then they will not fully enjoy their time with you.

Whether you have a bird, cat, dog, horse, rabbit, or pig, the concept is the same. First your animal friend should have a physical space to live in comfortably, or it should be taught how to live in a human home safely and without destroying it.  Second, they should be comfortable greeting and spending time with other humans or they need to have a situation where they will not under any circumstance be injured or injure a person.  Third, their existence should not cause tension in the home or danger to themselves.

My favorite method of working with my animals is telepathic communication of course!  I just let them know what we expect of them and they tell me what they need to be happy and comfortable- together we work it out.  I have also found this useful in my consultations with my clients.  Frequently I find myself explaining potty training to a puppy or the purpose of scratching posts to cats.  I also encourage my clients to send mental pictures to their animal friends that show them exactly what behaviors are desired.  As much as I encourage this method of “training”, I also highly recommend working with trainers, especially if you have a dog or horse.  The kindest thing that you can do is teaching your dog how to be safe and polite with people- it could some day save her life.

I want people to know that they can and should live happily with their animals- too many homes are damaged unnecessarily. I also want to see animals living comfortably with their humans- too often they are misunderstood or punished without ever being properly informed about their behavior.  Please remember why you have invited animals into your life.  Treat them with love, respect and help them learn the human way.  In return they will give you companionship and teach you the ways of their species.  Remember, it is not likely that anyone will know all of the answers, so use the resources you have available- your animal, trainers, vets, behaviorists and animal communicators!

Introducing Ted

Sometimes the best lessons in life arrive in small furry packages.  This is certainly true of Ted, the small rex rabbit I adopted on January 6, 2002 .  Throughout my childhood and teen-age years I shared my life with pet rabbits, but nothing prepared me for this guy!  He is older, having spent the past 6 years in a home where he was obviously loved by his woman (later I understood from him that he was not treated well by the man).  When I picked him up from the MSPCA shelter, he came with his own personalized Christmas stocking!

Ted was afraid in the shelter, but seemed very affectionate.  He wanted a guarantee that he would be a “house rabbit”, he would not have a cage, and would run free in the house.  I said, “no problem”.  When we arrived at our house with Ted, I explained to him that I needed him to live in the spare bathroom for a day or two while we “rabbit proofed” the house, the cats adjusted, and most importantly he proved his litter training.  Needless to say he was very offended.  Whenever I opened the door to visit him he would say, “you told me I was going to be a house rabbit!”

Ted seemed surprised that I knew what he was saying to me.  At first he tried to pretend that he could not understand me.  When he realized that I was willing to help him if he talked with me, he opened up.  At the end of the first day I asked him if there was anything I could bring him and he replied, “parsley”.  I did not have any on hand and promised to buy some the next day.  It turns out that parsley is Ted’s favorite so we make sure that the refrigerator is stocked.  (Like many bunnies he loves bananas most of all, but they are not considered healthy treats, so we offer them sparingly.)

Understanding how important it was for Ted to be a house rabbit, we put all of our energy into “rabbit proofing” the lower floor of our house.  This involves making certain that all wires are out of bunny reach, and being sure that no shoes, quilts, or favorite things are within chewing range of the rabbit.  Once rabbits find something they want to chew, it is often destroyed before you know about it, so it is best to be safe from the start.  When we finished rabbit proofing that floor, we let Ted out, and he danced and played and was very happy for two days.  On the third day he started biting our ankles and letting me know that his care was “unacceptable”.  I asked him what was wrong and he replied, “You promised that I would be a house rabbit and I want the rest of the house.”  So, another weekend was spent rabbit proofing most of the upstairs.  We let Ted up during the day, but put him in the bathroom at night (both of the cats were afraid of him and we did not want to leave them together unattended).  He was joyful and happy for two days.  On the third day he started biting again and told me his care was “unacceptable”.  He explained that he wanted to be free all day and all night.

I had a long talk with Ted and the cats, and explained that if Ted was free all of the time, then I needed to know that they were all safe with each other.  They all assured me that although they were not friends yet, Ted could be free at night and no one would get hurt.  A few days later Nikita accidentally fell asleep on the floor.  Ted discovered him and began to groom him, licking the fur on his hips.  Trying to cover the entire cat, Ted put his front foot up on Nikita, and he still slept.  Then Ted put his other foot up and Nikita stirred.  He slowly looked over his shoulder and to his horror realized there was a rabbit standing on him, licking him!  I was worried that he would react violently, but he quietly scooted out from under Ted, and has not slept on the floor since.  This interaction gave me the assurance that although Nik feared Ted, he would not hurt him.

Ted was happy for several days with his new freedom, and then I made a huge mistake.  I wanted to clip his claws, so we sat on the couch holding him and clipped a few.  He became very upset.  That night he attacked Tim and I while we sat on the same couch, and for the next eight days he got on the couch and raged (biting and digging at it).  He accepted my apology, but would not forgive the couch.  I tried communicating with him about it everyday, but nothing seemed to help (my couch was worse for the wear).  He told me again that my care was “unacceptable”.  Part of me felt like giving up on him.  I began resorting to training techniques like blowing a whistle while he was on the couch, putting perfume on the couch to “stink” him out, and bribing him to stay off with banana chips.  Everything made him worse, and I felt guilty for trying such techniques on him.

Finally I had a long talk with him and told him that I would follow any care instructions he had, and I would take new instructions each day.  He told me that he was hurt that his other people left him at the shelter and wanted to speak with them.  I made an effort to contact his woman, but could not.  I told him that I would do everything I could to make him happy here.  He said he wanted full freedom all of the time, parsley every day, and a furry friend.  I could not adopt any new friends for him, but I asked May to give the rabbit a chance.  She immediately walked over and rubbed on him, flirting as best she could.  He licked her a few times then nipped her on the leg.  She looked at me and said, “This is just too much to ask!”  I explained to Ted that it was very hard for our family to give him what he wanted when he was constantly pinching everyone on the ankles.  We continued our daily talks and he slowly became content and decreased the ankle biting- even May gave him a chance every couple of days.

I built him the most fantastic rabbit fort, made of sticks, 100% edible, and it creates a safe hiding spot for him.  After the arrival of the fort he was really happy for many days.  All of his grumbling ended, except an occasional fit on the couch.  So, I talked to a Behaviorist who suggested putting a plastic carpet runner prickly side up on the couch.  That cured the problem immediately (although I prefer to solve issues with communication in general).

Now Ted has lived with us for six-weeks and for the most part all is well.  He still becomes very angry or upset (pinches our ankles) when we have visitors or if we watch too much T.V. (particularly sports).  As I become more aware of his thoughts, habits, and emotions, I feel us growing closer.  This experience has shown me that I still have a lot to learn about patience, animal communication and myself, and I am sure Ted is ready to teach me!

Framing Floyd

Cheryl called me a few months ago regarding Spike, her 130 lb Mutt (Mastiff and Lab mix). When left alone in the home with their other dog, Spike was “stealing”. Standing on his hind legs he would clear the counter tops and table, empty the trash, and sometimes eat what he found.

During our first consultation I asked Spike why he was creating such mischief He said, “I used to have a dog friend that would play with me and get into trouble too. This new dog, Floyd, does not like to do things with me. I thought if I knocked everything down, then he would get in trouble too and it would be a common bond. ” Essentially Spike was attempting to frame Floyd. The problem with his plan; Floyd is a Bassett Hound with an obvious height disadvantage. It would not be physically possible for Floyd to be responsible for the “trouble” and was therefore never even considered by the humans as the potential culprit. I explained this the Spike, who, despite being a very clever dog in general, had not considered Floyd’s height when attempting to frame him.

Cheryl and I asked Spike to change his ways and we set up a plan for Cheryl to remind him daily to keep his feet on the floor. A few weeks later she wrote, “as far as Spike – he is doing WONDERFUL!!! Only I believe twice has he snooped around on either the table or counter, and neither time to the extent he was before – it is wonderful.” She did have a few more incidences with Spike, but mostly he takes her request seriously and is well-behaved. Hopefully he and Floyd will become good friends in time.

Understanding Behavior. Humans and Unconscious Telepathy

Sitting in a soft pile of alfalfa hay I gaze at five llamas, as Rob and Alice stand nearby. The communication session this morning reminds me of how many lessons animals have to offer us. The llamas are so observant of human energy and thoughts, it is an amazing learning to simply notice their reactions to our movements. Alice reaches for her camera and points it at the llamas. A couple of them quickly move away in opposite directions.
“Why do they move as soon as I try to take their picture?”, she asks.

I close my eyes and connect with Ebony, one of the male llamas that moved away. He describes the ” situation” to me. First he presents an image of Alice calm and still, her energy contained. Then as she picks up the camera and aims it, energy floods towards the llamas, at the same time Ebony receives a telepathic message, “I’m going to capture you”.

I find this small incident fascinating! Ebony is showing us how humans tend to flow energy and thoughts unconsciously, and that animals are picking up on our communications even if we are unaware of what we are saying. This situation also emphasizes the fact that “odd” animal behaviors are often based on human actions, even if we are unaware of our influence.

Similar situations are common with pets and their people. Often our thoughts and feelings do not match our verbal statements. Animals challenge us to seek purity, honesty and consistency in our lives.