I talk to animals.
As a dog-walker/pet-sitter, it’s part of my job, actually.
Most of the time, it’s senseless banter — oohing and aahing over their cuteness, venting about this or that, or just talking to break the silence a bit. Sometimes, but not too often, the animals actually listen to me and once in a while, they even talk back.
. . .
I’ve always been drawn to animals. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been able to relate to animals better than I can relate to humans. People often comment on how good I am with animals and how they can really feel my passion when I’m around animals or speak of them. Some even joke that I’m a bit of an “animal whisperer.” I always tend to laugh off those remarks, though. I’m passionate about animals, yes, but an animal communicator? I don’t think so.
But not long ago, something happened that changed my thoughts about animals and how the lines of communication between us and them work.
I’d been working for a client, walking their three dogs, for almost three years when one of their dogs was diagnosed with cancer. He had surgery and was taking chemotherapy pills, but his prognosis was not good. I was saddened by the news, of course, but knowing dogs’ resilience, I hoped for much more time with my buddy. The months passed and his health seemed steady — you really couldn’t tell there was anything wrong with him. Then one day, about six months after his diagnosis, things started to change. He became slower and he seemed winded after even short walks. We modified his care needs to lessen the strain on his body, but his health continued to decline. He still seemed to have some zest for life left, though, and would use every bit of energy he had to get outside for a bit when I came for his walk. Eventually, his legs became so week, he had trouble standing and needed help getting up from the floor. A few days later, his breathing seemed different and I knew my time with him was growing short. Each time I visited with him, I wondered if it would be my last.
Then one day, I knew it was.
He couldn’t support himself at all anymore and was feeble and struggling. He’d lost the spark in his eye and looked uncomfortable and defeated. I sobbed as I carried him outside and laid him down in the grass. He couldn’t even stand to urinate, but I didn’t care. I just wanted him to be able to enjoy some time outside as he always had. He laid his head down in the grass and as a bright beam of sunlight hit his face, his eyes closed and a peaceful look washed over him. I actually thought he was passing away right then and there and quickly made sure he was still breathing.
After a few minutes like that, he seemed ready to go back inside, so I carried him in and sat with him for a while. Stroking his beautiful, long fur and telling him, through sobs, that I loved him and that it was okay for him to leave. I told him that I knew he didn’t feel well and that he was worried about his owners and the two other dogs in the house, but that it was okay. I told him everyone would miss him, but that no one wanted to see him suffering any longer. I asked him to go on his own so that his owners didn’t have to make the decision to let him go. I told him all these things, kissed him, pulled myself together and headed out. I knew that would be the last time I’d see him.
Sure enough, later that night, I received word that he had passed on his own, at home.
Was it just coincidence that he passed that night, after I had had that long one-on-one with him? Maybe. “Probably”, I tell myself. But a part of me thinks that maybe it wasn’t. I can’t seem to erase from my mind the signs that he gave me that day. They struck me as so profound and I think that was his way of acknowledging all I had done for him and thanking me for all the fun memories we’d made during our three years together. It was like his final farewell to me.
I used to think that animals listened, to an extent, to the words we speak, but after this incident, I realize that the connections we have with them and the ability for them to send and receive messages is greater than I could imagine. I picked up a book recently at a thrift shop, Learning Their Language, by renowned intuitive communicator, author and teacher, Marta Williams, in which Williams instructs readers on how to get in touch with the intuitive side that lives within each of us to connect with animals and nature in ways we never imagined we could. I don’t think it’s something you really understand, or even believe in, though, until you experience it for yourself. After my experience, I am definitely a believer and I now approach each interaction I have with animals with new appreciation and receptiveness. Maybe I really am an animal whisperer, after all.
Do you believe animals communicate with us? Have you ever received or sent messages from or to an animal?