When Kate arrives, Lily gets her attention first. Lily sits on my bed and flattens her body in dog-style submission. Kate sits on the floor talking soothingly to her. Within seconds Kate says that an image has come to her: Lily has been smacked by a man wearing black boots and a baseball hat, which accounts for that anti-man thing. In her foster home, Kate says, Lily was attacked by a golden retriever while she ate; hence the fear of the breed and of eating unprotected.
I suspected something like this myself, but it is reassuring to have confirmation. Still, this seems like the kind of thing that any animal-savvy person might conjecture. My skepticism melts, though, when Kate tells me more of what she’s intuiting about Lily.
“She always wants to know,” says Kate, “is it safe and is everyone happy?” This reminds me mysteriously of my son, who plays that role among the humans, and whom I’ve been counseled to tell repeatedly, “Everything will be fine.” With that I begin to understand the bigger picture of how Lily fits into our family.
“We are often drawn to an animal who mirrors someone else in the household,” Kate says. “The animal then helps us understand the issues better and to help us to heal.” And, interestingly enough, it was my son who helped me spot Lily behind bars at the shelter, not barking, just looking resigned to sadness. This is the difference that an animal communicator can offer–not a training regimen, but a deeper perspective, a narrative. Even though animals can’t talk, they do have a back story.
The dog, it seems, is saying that she needs us to make our household a less stressful place. “It’s a gift to have Lily here,” says Kate. “She can help you all learn that the world can be safe.”
As we speak, the cats drift in one by one. (“It’s our turn,” they seem to say.) Daisy, the tabby, rubs against the visitors. Kate tells us that Buddha the big calm cat considers it his his job to “hold us together,” which he does, I realize later, by dividing his attention equally among all of us.
But it is gray-furred Pearl who sets us straight about the feline zeitgeist. “We are happy and we are definitely not spraying,” she communicates through Kate. But someone has been. So I ask Kate, then who is it? Neighborhood cats, according to an image transferred by Pearl, an orange male and a black and white, and I know immediately which ones she means. It’s as if the cats have a world of their own, like kids on the playground, and I have been allowed a view from their eyes of their “friends,” the mischievous ones who flee my yard when I appear.
Sherlock, the little sheltie, is the last to be visited, and he has a familiar story to tell: He was one of many puppies in a crowded space, competing and losing at the food bowl, being confined in a cage for so long he doesn’t trust open spaces. But what to do with that information?
Both dogs, bred for work, need talking to, compliments, and jobs. “Whenever you leave the house, ask them to take care of the cats and bark at intruders,” says Kate. As for Lily, all men of the house are advised to leave shoes at the door, avoid eye contact with her–wait instead for her to approach–and then pet her under the chin (top of the head is threatening). For me, it’s as if I have another preschooler to mother gently and patiently until she learns to trust her environment and other people–most critically my son. “They can help each other,” says Kate. “Give him some responsibility for feeding and walking her.”
The next morning, I wake to the sound of Sherlock and Lily frolicking around the upper floor, something they’ve never done before without me throwing balls to get them in the mood. When I tell Kate, she says, “That often happens after a visit. The animals feel lighter and happier.”
Weeks later the shift is still evident. The cats are status quo, which I now see as contentment, but the hunting trophies have stopped turning up. Lily is still at my heels, and Sherlock is sometimes forlorn, but now they romp around regularly like kids at recess and are more part of the scene.
And I understand better what’s required of me, the supposed matriarch of the household, to keep everyone’s agita at bay. We all seem to be feeling more peaceful, especially the animals.
The visit turned out so well, in fact, that I’m considering inviting Kate back just to learn more: Where do the cats go on their nights out? Why do the dogs feel such joy when they hang their heads out the car window, ears blowing in the breeze?
I could try to figure it out, but I’d rather hear them speak.
Talk to Your Animal
- You’ll find more information about the work of Kate Solisti-Mattelon and Patrice Mattelon at their website, akinshipwithanimals.com.
- To find an animal communicator in your area, go to Penelope Smith’s site, animaltalk.net, and click on “Consultation Information and Animal Communicator Directory.”
- The fees for communicators vary, but experienced professionals charge $30 to $100 for a half-hour session. Phone sessions can work as well as on-site ones, communicators say; often only one session is needed.
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