VENTURA COUNTY STAR
THURSDAY AUGUST 30, 2007
New perspective gained after dogs taken to psychic
Out of the mouths of pets – article by Jeffery Dransfeldt
There are things I find it hard to believe in — aliens, psychics and the tooth fairy are a few. First-hand experience has a way of changing your beliefs.
Last month, I took our family’s two small dogs, Kobe and Kelsey, both Dachshund/Jack Russell terrier mixes, to meet noted Ojai-based pet psychic Laura Stinchfield.
My grandmother, Annie Dransfeldt, had told me about Stinchfield, who had spoken to my grandma’s two dogs, Cody and Dane; Dane told her he was hearing ringing and buzzing and he was feeling nauseated. The dog had been throwing up the week before, a fact of which Stinchfield was unaware.
My grandmother took Dane to the vet and discovered his ears needed to be cleaned out and his left eardrum had disappeared.
It was enough to make me curious, so I loaded up the dogs, stopped in Ventura to pick up my grandmother and headed off to Ojai to meet Stinchfield at a park near her home.
With her relaxed approach, Stinchfield was an ideal fit for Kobe and Kelsey, who are generally calm at home but in new environments get excited and want to explore.
Stinchfield led us to a secluded part of the park with picnic tables and we sat at one of them.
The New York native typically receives some background information from clients about their animals and their problems but says she learns a lot by talking to the pets and directly asking them questions the clients want answered.
Kobe, who sat on top of the table, looked away from Stinchfield, glancing at her only occasionally, as she spoke in what is best described as a rapid whisper, not quite audibly.
I sat at the table, on the bench across from Stinchfield, and observed.
Kobe’s first answer was a shot to my hip-hop-loving soul.
The music in my car is too loud, he told her, and the bass hurts his ears.
OK, so maybe I’ll have to turn down my daily dose of Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre when Kobe comes along.
What to ask
Stinchfield asked me what questions I had for him and at first I was stumped.
I’ve always had pets around and I have talked to them — calling them for dinner, even secretly confiding in them — while not actually considering how much they understand.
Are they just responding to key words or do they really know what we’re telling them?
They look at me with those soulful eyes and tilt their tilty heads when I’m talking, and I do think maybe they understand what I’m saying.
I don’t know, but with Stinchfield here, perhaps I had a chance to understand Kobe and Kelsey better.
I had her ask Kobe about Duski, our 16-year-old Labrador, who is going blind and sometimes has trouble walking but maintains a cheerful demeanor, facts I did not divulge to Stinchfield.
Kobe said he feels bad because Duski can’t see very well and shared that he’s worried his eyesight will fade when he gets older; Stinchfield reassured him that it doesn’t always happen.
Kobe, who turned 7 in July, consistently barks at the front door in the evening, much to my annoyance, but he told Stinchfield he is protecting my mom, who works at home. Duski is no longer able, he told her.
Kobe remained relaxed and calm throughout this session; whether he knew it or not, he was back in his hometown, Ojai being the city where he lived when we adopted him from a couple there.
We had him a few years before I learned a high school classmate had adopted a female sibling of Kobe’s. The family was breeding her — and soon we had Kelsey, who is now 4.
After an adjustment period, the two are now inseparable.
According to Stinchfield, Kobe shared that it can be a lot of work because Kelsey can get hyper and he has to calm her down.
Kelsey, an occasionally anxious all-black dog, was nervous when it was her turn to talk to Stinchfield; she strained at first against the leash. Then slowly she relaxed and moved into the psychic’s lap.
Kelsey reportedly revealed how she thinks the new cat in the household (Joy) looks like a squirrel and shouldn’t be inside. That was interesting, as Joy is a chronic climber, often getting herself into trouble with her athletic antics.
Kelsey wondered what she’ll get for leaving the cat alone, Stinchfield said.
There’s the inner treat fiend present in all of our pets, I thought, and it was confirmed when Kelsey reportedly asked that we give her a full bowl of food that’s put in the oven. I believe she was referring to the warm hamburger meat we sometimes sprinkle on her and Kobe’s dry food.
Kelsey is more intuitive than the happy-go-lucky Kobe, Stinchfield said, and she’s more attentive when a family member is sick or feeling down. This we know; we just didn’t know how much.
Kelsey reportedly shared that she’s my dad’s little girl, that she feels safe with him. It surprised me when Kelsey reportedly revealed she had seen my generally stoic dad cry; she told Stinchfield she was proud to be there for him.
Last year, my father, Steve, lost his dad and Annie’s husband, Larry, to cancer, and Kelsey did see him cry then.
When I ran out of questions for my dogs, I sat back and reflected on this experience. It’s an innate human curiosity to want to know how things happen; in this circumstance, I am unaware of how Stinchfield understood Kobe and Kelsey. But it seemed to me she did understand them.
As a reporter, I want to know the facts so I can relate them to a larger audience. But sometimes things happen and they can’t be explained — medical miracles, who lives or dies in a war and even pet psychics.
Initially unsure of Stinchfield’s abilities, I must say I am now a believer, hearing details reportedly related to her from my two dogs, things she had no other way of finding out.
I’ve known Kobe and Kelsey since they were puppies, but on this afternoon, I think I really understood them.
— Jeffrey Dransfeldt is a University of Oregon student who is an intern for The Star and is in his fifth year freelancing for the paper.
Photo courtesy of Pam Dransfeldt Joy watches as reporter Jeffrey Dransfeldt works at the computer. After visiting Laura Stinchfield, Dransfeldt says he’s now a believer.