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Category Archives: 02. Articles / Dear Laura
During an animal communication / pet psychic session, I very often talk about Animal Communication in the form of body language. I believe that every animal owner and professional should know about how animals communicate using their bodies and how using your own body can affect the animals around you.
Another important part of animal communication is using telepathy or intentional thought to communicate with our animals. During an animal communication/pet psychic session I will explain to you how to use your mind to communicate more clearly to your animals.
Animal Body Language
Be respectful and learn their native language.
Most humans expect domesticated animals to learn human voice commands and hand signals without acknowledging that animals have a native language of their own. This is selfish on our part. Often when people do not understand animal body language, they inadvertently discipline or scold an animal at the wrong time. This can result in aggression, fear, lack of confidence, illness and in generally creates confusion and dysfunction in the animals lives.
People can use knowledge of animal behavior to communicate more efficiently with their animals and build an animal’s confidence and trust. The bond between humans and animals will become more affectionate and understanding.
Animals communicate with each other through body language. This is their native language. Turid Rugass, a Norwegian dog trainer, studied the body language of dogs for over a decade and became famous for her insights on “calming signals” and communication between dogs.
I have found that all species of animals have “calming signals”. These signals can give animal owners and professionals great insight into how our animals are feeling at any given moment.
Animals use body language to calm themselves or other animals in stressful situations, to show dominance, to communicate to us where they have pain in their body or to show us when they are confused or confident.
In an animal communication/pet psychic session (if you are interested or if I feel it is necessary) I will explain to you and your animals:
1. What “Calming Signals” are and in which situations they are used. Some of these signals are looking away, blinking, yawning, sniffing the ground, approaching in an arc, shaking, holding up a paw, sitting, lying, and play bowing.
Signals of a lack of calming are: closing/clenching of the mouth, staring, leaning on the front paws, and body stiff. This often leads to aggression or intense fear.
2. How to mindfully watch the animals.
3. How and why praising an animal for exhibiting calming signals builds confidence, independence, and communication skills in all situations and relationships.
4. The importance of paying attention to our own body language and how we may be sending an animal mixed messages. For instance, a human may think to bend with one’s torso to greet an animal is welcoming when in actuality it is telling an animal that you are more dominant and that they must submit to you.
5. If we are still, quiet and conscious of our movements our animals will understand our “Intentional thoughts” and our hand signals more efficiently.
6. Why common misunderstandings occur. Some such misunderstandings are: when our animals look at us and then look away they are actually being respectful, not “blowing us off” or ignoring us. Another misunderstanding is that when they yawn, it is not because they are sleepy.
The Art of Intentional Thought
The super power anyone can learn that affects our animals lives in a beneficial way.
Every animal lover would like to be understood by their animal and know what their animal is thinking and feeling. Unbeknownst to most people, this ability is already happening unconsciously to some degree.
A picture in our mind, an emotion in our psyche, and a feeling in our body accompany every thought we think. Animals are highly intuitive. If they are paying attention, all of our thoughts, feelings, and images in our mind are noticed and processed within their minds and bodies.
If both parties are conscious of their everyday thought patterns and learn how to direct their thoughts to others, then telepathy becomes easier and more natural. Animals become more confident and better behaved and humans become more aware, attentive and forgiving.
During an animal communication / pet psychic session if you are interested or if I feel it is necessary for you and your pet, I will address the foundations for learning telepathy.
I believe that the human and the animal relationship are dependent upon one another. I call this “The Law of Empathy”. When an animal is stressed, so is the human and vs. Versa. I have heard that 80-90 percent of the thoughts running through our heads are negative (what I call imperfect thoughts) and that 98 percent of our thoughts that we are having today, we had yesterday. We must then address the impact of our thoughts upon our animals. We must begin to be conscious of what we are thinking and saying. I believe that when dealing with our animals, our thoughts can be grouped into two categories, ideal thoughts, and imperfect thoughts.
An ideal thought is thought that feels good in our bodies and creates an image in our minds of the best possible scenario. It has a feeling of patience and love. It builds confidence and security not only within ourselves but also amongst others around us through the Law Of Empathy.
An imperfect thought is thought that we may dwell or obsess over. It is a thought that gives us an anxious feeling, angry feeling or a feeling of helplessness in our bodies. The image in our mind is one that we would rather not see or experience.
If we are taking our animal to the veterinarian’s
A): The ideal way to communicate would “Be calm at the veterinarian’s. You are safe. You are brave. We have the best doctor to help you.”
B): An imperfect way to communicate would be, “Don’t be scared. Nothing terrible is going to happen to you. Your doctor is not a bad person.”
Teaching Your Dog To Greet People Appropriately
A): The ideal way to communicate is, “Off. When you have all four paws on the ground, I am happy.”
B): Imperfect way to communicate is, “Don’t Jump. You are bad and I am angry. Don’t jump.”
Notice the difference in A and B. A. creates a feeling and image of what we desire and the ideal situations. B. creates confusion and insecurity. Animals do not understand “Do not” or “Don’t.” All they understand is the feeling and images you are sending them.
Our animals notice everything we think, visualize, feel and/or say around them if they are paying attention. Changing our own thoughts in our daily lives can have an enormous amount of power over the health and well-being of our own animals or any animals we come in contact with.
I can help you:
1. How to notice what you personally are thinking in your own minds, what images you are seeing and what they are feeling in their body.
2. How to have control over your thoughts, how to stop imperfect thoughts and how to create ideal thoughts.
3. How to put this knowledge to work and then communicate successfully with your own animal. This will help all our animals understand issues in our lives, what we need of them, and help the animals gain security in the issues that are in their own lives.
4. Notice that if we change one part of our relationship with our pet it can have a dramatic effect on our relationship as a whole. Each individual has a choice in what we think at any given moment. Every thought is a stepping-stone in the creation of our future. If we use The Art Of Intentional Thought, our lives with our pets will transform into healthy, confident, secure and cooperative relationships.
Video of my session with standard poodle Simone and her dad E Vincent Martinez.
This Video Shows how I teach awareness of body language during a session and how the thoughts of people around your animals can have a big effect on their confidence.
In June of 2009, E. Vincent Martinez launched fashionado.net. The fashion-inspired website has grown to include celebrity interviews, movie reviews, travel, and entertainment. Fashionado also follows Martinez through all of his adventures and fabulous fashion parties. In 2010, fashionado was named Best Fashion Blog by the Atlanta Fashion Awards and it also made the list of the Top 100 Fashion Bloggers Worldwide by Sparkah, a marketing firm in NYC.
Most recently (summer 2011) E. Vincent Martinez was named one of the best dressed Atlantans by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Access Atlanta.
I had a pet psychic session with Vincent Martinez and his standard poodle Simone. Vincent recently blogged about this session on Fashionado.net.
He called the blog post “Lick.Yawn.Blink” and wrote:
“Lick, yawn and blink,” instructed pet psychic Laura Stinchfield to my black standard poodle, Simone. Also known as an animal communicator, we spent nearly thirty minutes with Laura.
Earlier in the day, Laura Stinchfield did the Atlanta media circuit with appearances on radio and morning tv shows. She encountered a skeptic or two along the way, though probably just for rating’s sake.
So, I went into this meeting with an open mind. I was actually excited and eager to learn what my dog might be thinking or feeling!
Laura said that Simone’s intelligence is strong and it forces her to over-think everything which causes her to be overly cautious and fearful of her surroundings. [Made perfect sense to me.] That’s where the instructions/homework to “lick, yawn and blink” came to play. Those actions are “calming signals” as explained in the video. Laura asked Simone to enjoy just being a dog.
Of course, I was curious about the communication process. You’ll notice in the video that Laura gets close to Simone’s face and whispers things that only she can hear. They were completely focused on one another. At times Laura would speak out loud for both of us to hear. I was amazed by Simone’s captivated behavior. Never has this happened with a stranger.
Laura explained how she and animals communicate. She discovered at an early age that she could talk with her pets through the ability to see images that are in their head [that tell a story]. Additionally, Laura can hear their thoughts… but she added that pets will not betray an owner’s trust by revealing private moments or situations. A comforting thought!
At the end of the session, Simone gave Laura a lick on the face. I was shocked. She rarely licks. That was all the evidence I needed to know that something had happened. That a connection had been made.
Are you wondering if Simone’s behavior changed after the session with Laura? The answer is yes. Yes because I left with a better understanding of how to relate to my pet. I wouldn’t mind a follow-up session. Laura may be returning to Atlanta early in the new year so I may get that chance. And you!
Click Here To Learn How I Became An Animal Communicator.
Click Here For Frequently Asked Questions About My Animal Communicator – Animal Communication / Pet Psychic Services.
Click Here For General Frequently Asked Questions About My Services.
Ever wonder if animals have nightmares? In this post, I give you an inside look at my book Voices of the Animals. You can read about a cat who was so frightened by a nightmare that he bit his person. What could frighten Bug so much?
Scroll down to read his story.
A CAT’S NIGHTMARE
An inside look at:
VOICES OF THE ANIMALS
A collection of insightful articles and stories that will change the way you view and treat animals
Click Here to purchase the book!
a cats nightmare
Scroll over the bottom left of the pdf viewer, there you can change the page and zoom in and out on the text.
If you enjoy this story, you can read more by purchasing Laura’s book on Amazon.
* Notice Bug has a heart-shaped marking on his side!
Here are some more photos of him. He has been my good friend for many years!
When I sat down for a moment to rest, Easter came over to tell me, “Mom, I just found myself in a bucket of love.”
“What does that mean?” I asked her.
She replied, “It means that when you finally rest for a moment, I feel all the love energy that follows you around drop down around us. It also means to find love in the endless bucket inside of you. I am very knowledgeable on love. You have to recognize it to feel its power.”
Joie the Cancun Wild Iguana
First Published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
June 19, 2019
At a luxury resort in Cancun, Mexico, an iguana looked down at us with exquisite eyes from the pergola above our hotel room. When I asked her why she was up so high she answered, “I like to view of the ocean from up here. I can see where the other iguanas are. One of them picks on me.” We told her to imagine both her and that iguana at peace and to send him compassion. She thought about it but did not respond.
I love watching reptiles eat. They eat with an unusual presence of mind, savoring each taste with delight. I asked her if she would like a treat. “I love strawberries.” She replied That was an easy request to fulfill at the breakfast buffet.
We named her Joie after Dr. Joe Dispenza. It seemed an obvious choice since we were attending his workshop. Joie became more and more comfortable with each feeding. One day we sat down with her to learn more about her. We quickly learned she was female when she asked us, “How many birthdays have you had?” She didn’t mean how old we are. She wanted to know how many times we had given birth.
She got startled when someone walked behind her. I asked her why she was scared. She told us that she has seen other iguanas scooped up in nets and taken away. I explained to her that the resort staff was extremely compassionate towards animals, so they were probably re-homing the other iguanas because of overpopulation. I explained the difference between staff uniforms and the guests’ attire. She told us, “I have never known people to sing with their heart like you do?” She was definitely talking about my friend who is sings beautifully throughout the day.
Joie then asked, “How many skies are there?” Because we were spending a lot of time meditating, we quickly assumed she meant dimensions to the universe or states of mind, but Joie was being much more literal. She continued, “I like peaceful skies. I get scared of the storms. I have nowhere to hide.”
I looked around. She has plenty of places to hide. Joie then showed me a wild storm. She must be talking about hurricanes. I explained to her that people at the resort love animals and during these storms she should just run inside the hotel. The staff would be kind to her then. My friend Marna gave her directions on how to get into a nearby corridor that is contained but still has lots of plants. It would be a safe place for her to take shelter during a hurricane and extremely close to where she is presently living. I told Joie to go explore the area in the middle of the night or early in the morning, so she knows exactly where to go. She likes that idea and found great comfort in it. I also told her we were leaving and that she could manifest strawberries by looking at people and thinking strawberry over and over or while looking at the “peaceful sky” imagining herself happily eating strawberries. Of course, she could manifest this too. She manifested us.
We had this conversation as she feasted on strawberries, melons and a banana. Afterwards she stretched out on the grass and relaxed into her belly with her legs sprawled out. One did not need to be a pet psychic to see her gazing into our eyes with wonder. She is clearly fond of us and will miss us when we are gone. The feeling is mutual. Until we meet again, sweet Joie.
First Published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
Many months ago, I fell in love with a painting at the Primavera Art Gallery.
It was thousands of dollars above my budget, but I snapped a photo of it anyway. The painting was of a small box shaped house that reminded me of a lighthouse. Since a young girl, I have always loved lighthouses. The idea that even in stormy weather a sailor could rely on a flashing light though the fog and the sound of mariner’s bell to alert them of home or rocky waters always calmed my restlessness. This house had its porch light on, another symbol to me of arriving home safely. Soon after I saw the painting, it started to show up in my visions during meditations. I would find myself walking up the steps into the house and then either upstairs or out the back door into mystical worlds or places to study.
One morning during my meditation, I found myself out the back door of the house. I had long thin legs. Effortlessly, I took flight. I was a white crane flying over the waves at the edge of the water. I could smell and feel the spray of the ocean and sense the wind touching every muscle and feather as I was lifted higher above the water. I flew through sunlight and puffy clouds in a world more vivid than this one, wishing it would never end. In a moment, I found myself landing in the arms of a man. I could feel his strong biceps supporting my bird body against his chest. He stroked my head and my back kindly. I pushed my head up against his cheek and wondered if this is how birds feel when they find themselves safe with a human friend. I looked down at my crane feet and they morphed into webbed ones. Was I now a white duck or a goose? My conscience rose from the depth of my heart. I did not want to trick this man into believing I was solely a bird. I flew from his arms and turned around using my will to turn me back into a woman. I felt the ocean fog around me and a white dress drape on my body. I wondered, “Do I now look like the ghost of woman from an old movie?”
Then I was aware of my breath, the blanket around me, and my chihuahua stirring to the rising sun out the bedroom window.
I went back to the gallery that day to visit the painting. It was thousands of dollars cheaper but still thousands more than I could spend. Months went by. Primavera closed. I wrote the artist telling her how much I loved her painting and made her an offer. The next day she accepted. I was thrilled. We became friendly via email both lovers of art and animals. A few days, later she writes, “I made a big mistake! I thought the painting was sent back… Much to my surprise it wasn’t. I had two pieces of the lighthouses and I thought the other one was sold. I feel really bad! I am sending you another painting of a bird at no cost. This is called “Crane Wife,” referring to one of my favorite folk tales of a Japanese wife who is a shape-shifter. The painting was hanging at the American Embassy in Kuwait for a couple of years, having been selected to be part of the Art in Embassy program.”
I was stunned. The house was a lighthouse after all. Aw, it’s gone. Did I read the email correctly? Is she gifting me a painting? Of a woman who shape-shifts into a crane? Words cannot express my sense of awe and gratitude.
The “Crane Wife” is hanging by my front door. She stands just outside a door at the water’s edge with the darkness behind her and light upon her chest. When I gaze at her, I am reminded of all that is safe and wonderful in this miraculous world.
“Crane Wife” and the painting “Before Point No Point” was painted by my new friend Treacy Ziegler. www.treacyzieglerfineart.com instagram @treacyziegler
How I got started as a People Medium:
Deceased Loved Ones
Anyone Who Can Not Speak for Themselves
While growing up my mother talked about the presence of fairies and my father would occasionally see ghosts. My mother’s stories of the fairy realm kept us children captivated. My father’s ghostly encounters were a source of amusement at adult cocktail parties. I was brought up believing that seeing and communicating with other dimensions was not only possible, but also very real.
As long as I can remember, I have been conversing with the dead. I have memories as far back as being toddler being spoken to by an old man on the staircase of our house. When I was nine, my family visited Stonehenge and Bath, England where ancient spirits would whisper to me into the night.
When my babysitter died, I remember her spirit sitting on my bed telling me she was well and that it was ok to cry. It took me a while to understand that when I get goose bumps (first on my left arm and then on my right) that it is a dead person trying to get my attention. The chilling feeling similar to being cold without the dropping temperature always would stop me and give me a curious feeling.
When my best friend’s mom died of cancer, I spoke to her as if she was still alive. In junior high, I ruined my friend’s slumber party because I was seeing ghosts watching us in her house. I kept saying to the kids that were leaving, “They wont hurt you. I promise.”
As a teenage I was obsessed with Stephan King and Edgar Alan Poe soaking up any knowledge that would help me to explain the dark side of things that I would occasional witness. I played with the Ouija board and always knew when it was a real spirit pushing the dial or some kid fooling around.
In my adult hood, I encountered evil spirits around people and watched how they could make people suffer. When I heard of someone being murdered or if a family friend died, I would see their spirit in my mind’s eye and hear them talking to me, pleading with me to write down their message and give them to their loved ones. Many times I wrote them down but never gave them to their loved ones on earth in fear it may hurt them somehow. Now I wished I had saved those letters. They would be a great comfort.
As an adult, I have become an authority in the field of the afterlife of animals (click here to order a deceased animal communicator session). Clients would plead to me to speak to their deceased humans, but I always refused. I thought dead people where rude. They would sit at the end of my bed or on the passenger seat of my car and insist on me telling their people messages. They drained me of energy and invaded my space. I was not passionate of their plight. I found animals much more kind and respectful.
Though in private, I enlightened myself by talking to deceased people who interested me like my great grandmother, Gandhi, Jim Morrison, Agatha Christie, Jane Austin, Henry David Thoreau, Nostradamus, Krishnamurti, Edgar Cayce, Charles Linbergh, Charles Yeager, Walt Disney and others. They comforted me and gave me wise insights into my life. They encouraged me to continue with my endeavors.
In 2007, my friend’s 13 year old daughter was killed in a plane crash. I hated to see my friend suffering and I felt like I could help her. She asked me if I could speak to her daughter and I accepted.
This is what she writes about the experience. “I first met Laura a few years ago when I hired her to talk to my horses and my dogs. I found her ability to truly hear and communicate with my animals astounding. She told me things that the animals told her about their prior training, lives, experiences that only they and a few other people knew. The detail that Laura was able to pick up and tell me was amazing.
After a terrible accident that killed my daughter and her father, I asked Laura to talk to both my daughter Talia, and her father Michael. I had spoken with other mediums before who had communicated with both of them, but Laura’s ability to hear and speak to Talia and Michael was beyond anyone else’s I have ever experienced. She actually relayed entire sentences, thoughts, desires from Talia and Michael to me, not just little tid-bits of information that I was used to hearing from other communicators. It was as if Talia and Michael were sitting with Laura and I and we were all communicating. A true question and answer session. It was inspiring, healing, and exciting for me. I recommend Laura to everyone who wants to hear from a loved one that is in spirit.”
Since then I have helped thousands of people connect with their loved ones in spirit. I have learned to have boundaries and now rarely encounter an “evil” or draining spirits.
I have been very grateful that I have learned to use my gift for a greater good.
Click Here For Frequently Asked Questions About My People Medium Services.
Sample Questions People Ask During The Session:
Deceased Loved Ones: Where is my loved one now? Do they forgive me? Can they help me with business? How do they see me now? What are they doing and who are they with? Do they have any advice for me?
Anyone who can not speak for themselves: I can speak to anyone who can not speak for themselves. Babies, People with developmental disabilities, people in coma….
How I got started as a professional Pet Psychic:
My Childhood: I grew up on a fourteen-acre horse farm in a small New York town in upper Westchester County. My parents were extremely supportive of my connection to animals. They accepted all of my pets into the family: The pony I had to rescue when I was ten years old, the English Cocker Spaniel, the calico kitten I had a friend drop off with a balloon and note that read, “to Laura from your secret admirer”, the parakeet I begged my grandfather for, the rabbit for which I forged my parents’ signature in order to win at a school raffle, and the many goldfish won at the local carnival.
As long as I can remember, I knew what animals were thinking and feeling. I had no idea that not everyone understood them to the degree that I did. There were many people in my history that told me that my connection to animals was different, but I was not exactly sure what that meant.
Young Adult: Although I was naturally communicating with animals as a child, it was not until I was a young adult that I begin to think seriously about animal communication. My first experience with professional “animal communication” and sending messages to animals was through reading Penelope Smith’s book Animal Talk.
At that time I had a cat, named Juliette. When I would come home from traveling, she would give me an evil glare and then scurry off into the neighborhood for days. Penelope suggested that before traveling one should send a mental picture to your animal of the number of days and nights (light to dark) you would be gone and picturing yourself happily returning home. It was amazing. The day of my arrival home, Juliette waited for me at the doorstep and slept with me purring all night long…a behavior she had never done before.
The second experience was with my German Shepherd/ coyote mix. When I was eighteen years old, I rescued Lala from an unhealthy situation guarding the local gas station. She instantly became my best friend. In 1996, I moved to California and began to study animal communication with Carol Gurney.
A few days after I returned from her training program, I lied down with LaLa on the bed and asked her, “How are you feeling today?”
As clear as thunder I heard her answer back, “Mom, I am dying inside”.
Two months later, I found out she had cancer and I had to help Lala transition to heaven. Being present for her transition proved to be one of the most enlightening and beautiful experiences of my life. It is because of this experience that I have been able to stroke and quiet animals as they are helped to transition in county shelters or in the homes of clients and friends.
Then came Maia, my German Shepherd/Wolf hybrid. Her story is too long to tell here. I will say, she is the sole reason I became a dog trainer and became passionate about helping animals through their fear, aggression, and unpleasant habitual behaviors. I also learned how the importance of study animal body language. You can read about that on the animal communication page.
In 1996 and 1997, I went through an intensive training program with Linda Tellington-Jones and Robyn Hood to become a certified T-Touch Practitioner. This was the start of my journey into becoming an all-positive animal trainer and linking the concept of awareness of body with that of emotional health.
During the same years, I studied and became a Reiki Master.
My methods, teachings, and knowledge grow with every animal I encounter. I also grow with my interaction with other animal practitioners. These are the people who dedicate their lives or part of their lives to the welfare of animals.
I dedicate my life to teaching humans and animals to understand each other. Animals have an amazing ability to process complex situations. They take on our stress. They understand work stress, children’s issues, divorce, emotional and physical illness, and our insecurities and fears. They can give us wise insight into our lives. If we learn to communicate with them more clearly, their confusion and behavior problems begin to drift away and we in return become more peaceful people
I am blessed to be able to talk to them and to understand them. I am blessed to be their translator, teacher, therapist, student, and their friend.
I live in Ojai, California with Luca (30lb Poodle), Hudson (White German Shepherd), Felix and Easter (Chihuahua Mixes), Ella (Snowshoe Cat), Clyde (Giant Flemish Rabbit), Seamora (Blue and Gold Macaw) and Jubilee (Appaloosa Sport Horse).
Click Here For Frequently Asked Questions About My Pet Psychic / Animal Communicator Services.
Click Here To Read Why I Believe Reading Animal Body Language and Paying Attention To Your Thoughts Is Important.
Living In Joy
First published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
March 20, 2019
I used to feel so much suffering of others that I would spend a full day in bed each week, literally sleeping just to feel “normal”. I once spoke to a bear actor whose kidneys were in so much pain that the next day my back went out and I could not walk for three days, I have cried countless nights over clients animals dying of cancer, bunnies getting beauty products poured in their eyes, or people I know dying.
On my days off, I stayed in the woods avoiding people so that I didn’t have to feel the pain that I saw in their eyes. To take away the terror I saw in the world, I tried: meditating, juice fasting, bananas, sugar, herbs, salt baths, smudging sage, swimming, surfing, dirt bike riding, smoking pot, riding horses, calling in angels for protection, yoga, putting gold light around me, reading, neflix binges, countless hours of audible and podcast listening. All of them sustaining me into normalcy. What has helped me the most? The woods, audible, swimming, meditating, bananas, juicing, and spiritual protection are all a part of my daily routine with some of the others mixed in.
To be a great psychic, one has to know themselves. Know your thoughts, feelings and associations so that you can decipher what’s streaming through your consciousness. One has to be committed to self-growth and climb that ladder of self-discovery. One must be able say to yourself or others, “I got it wrong. I am sorry. I messed up.” or, “It wasn’t my fault. What can I learn from this in order to help myself and others out of suffering?”
I have never had a problem with having compassion for others’ plights, but this too is a lesson. It’s important to have boundaries on how other’s actions effect you. Whether it’s a person who is not dealing with their own stuff or a dog who is acting aggressive on a walk, there should still be boundaries. Once I realized that others’ pasts are not an excuse to stay in the pattern of bad behavior, some people drifted away while others started to show up in unexpected ways. People respected me and the animals stepped into more peaceful roles. I was content, but I still wasn’t living my fullest potential.
Because my heart was a sponge to suffering, I felt guilty for being happy when so many are hurting. I could rejoice in others happiness but felt guilty for my own. I realize now, we don’t have to suffer with the world just because we are committed to helping it. Of course, there are times when the sadness overtakes us, but it doesn’t have to rule us. Why didn’t I see this before? I intellectually knew it, but did I not feel worthy of feeling my own joy?
I saw all the beauty in secret. The people that smile engaged in a passion, flowers that are blooming, the way the light shines off the ocean, the animals that are miraculously healing, the intense love I receive from people about my work, the way my spirit feels when I make love, meditate, surf and swim and how it feels to share an accomplishment or an awesome idea. Why did I hold that in secret, not letting it radiate from my heart?
I don’t have to stay in the frequency of the suffering that I deal with daily. It’s ok to experience more bliss than suffering. The pains of the world still matter if I go out into the world radiating joy.
Won’t we be more productive working through hearts continually fueled by love than hearts constantly suffering with others? Do many of us need to ask ourselves this?
Makia my late cat once said,
“Make joy a priority.”
First Published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
I had a phone session a woman named Karen. She has 7-year-old female calico cat with big golden eyes named Audrey. Karen wanted to know if there was anything Audrey wanted to say or anything she wants or needs.
Audrey starts the conversation with, “My mom has gone through a lot in the last few years. Her heart is opening up like a spring flower. You know music when it sounds like doom thunder time and then it gets relaxed? Mom, is in the relaxed stage.” Karen shared that she recently went through a bad breakup. During this time, there had been a lot of thunderstorms and flooding in her state which is where “doom thunder” came from.
Audrey went on to talk about wanting her water dish scrubbed more often, a different type of litter and to go outside at night so she could see “the amazing stars in the sky”. “I am really enjoying the new bathroom smell. It would be nice if that was in the living room.” She says. Turns out her mom recently put a new fragrant soap in the bathroom.
Audrey continued, “There is this one peachy colored facial cream that looks extraordinary on my mom.” Karen has been diligent about taking care of her skin lately. Audrey was clearly using the session to give her mom an emotional pep talk.
When I asked Audrey if she missed her old dad she replied, “Oh, my goodness. I will tell you a thing about him. He is sort of like a tv. The conversation goes one way. Not two ways. You talk to him and sometimes you get nothing back. Even I respond better. I would go to him and be like ‘Are you in there?’. He is not an emotionally stable guy. I feel bad for him because he has some type of hiccup in his head. I don’t need to see him again. He is not mom worthy.”
Karen shared that her ex-boyfriend was not very communicative or empathic to her feelings. Time and time again, animals will tell their people through me that their significant other or their ex does not treat not them right or is not the right person for them. In these situations, it’s always a little awkward to be the animals’ translator, but it is also an honor.
When the truth is spoken so practically, a still moment follows where the client gets very quiet. I wait it out, because deep change is occurring. The people are processing their animal’s level of consciousness and the reality of what was just said. They realize that all the trauma they went through, where they thought that they we were all alone, there was actually a silent observer that witnessed, understood and cared for them the whole time. That their animal was not just there to snuggle with them but also understood the complexity of the situation and had compassion for their plight. It’s a “whoa aha” moment that excites me, because I know that animal will be looked at differently from that moment forward. This doesn’t just happen with breakups, it can happen with illness, work issues and conflict in any relationships. The animals are super aware.
When I am listening to the animals, sometimes I chuckle too loudly to myself and then have to pull it together while I translate what was said. Like when Audrey goes on to give her mom dating advice, “Mom, just be yourself and know that you have awesomeness inside of you. If you have to ask yourself, “Does this guy know I am awesome?” get rid of him before he breaks your heart. Also wear cool shoes, so when you kick him out of the house, you can think about your cool shoes rather than the disappointing guy.”
Leave it to a cat to give the best advice.
READ MORE STORIES LIKE THIS IN MY BOOK:
Voices of the Animals: A collection of insightful articles and stories that will change the way you view and treat animals. (The Conscious Bond TM)
BUY or Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733343725/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_YEV2DbNDHG6RA
In honor of the month of love, I ask my animals,
“What is love?”
Ella my 5-year-old cat says, “Love is finding your purpose after you have been hurt. Love is comfortable bedding and playing every day. Love is the space within you and around you that creates amazing things in your life. Love is my life. I am love.”
Luca my 8-year-old poodle says, “Love is a wonderful feeling that allows you to be happy when there are difficult things happening. It’s like sunshine all the time. It is also what you have for yourself.”
Felix my 8-year-old chihuahua mix says, “Love is a mystery that flows through all things. It is what brings rescue animals to their people and wild animals to safety during a fire. It is a spirit rising within you.”
Easter my 5-year-old chihuahua says, “Love are cuddles and songs that people sing to you. Love is a good meal and being happy for no reason. Love is when you smell good and people like to kiss you.”
Seamora my 29-year-old blue and gold macaw says, “Love is when I share my food with the wild birds and let them bathe in the fountain before me. Love is definitely music and the sound of the wind through the trees. Love is awesome. If you think you don’t have it, you are wrong. It’s everywhere, you just have to notice it.”
Clyde my 4-year-old giant Flemish rabbit says, “Love is the energy that helps you manifest what you want. Love is being grateful. It is carrot tops and lots of friends. It’s when my mom laughs at me for being naughty instead of scolding me. It’s also when she takes the time to explain why she needs me to be good. Love is clear communication and patience. It is also enjoying a ripe banana.”
Jubilee my 8-year-old appaloosa warmblood horse says, “Love is having a best friend you can trust in all situations. If you get it wrong, they may get it right. Love is knowing yourself and being brave enough to trust others, even if someone has hurt you in the past. Love is jumping over tree limbs in the snow. Love is someone taking the time to scratch your butt with a rake even though their own back is sore.”
Hudson my almost 4-year-old white German Shepard says, “Love is traveling through the universe to find someone you love deeply. Love is being grateful for what is around you. Love is much more than you think it is. It’s what all things wonderful are created from. I also want to say love is chasing deer and squirrels, but my mom won’t like that one…. Mom said it may be the speed and sense of direct focus I like. Ohh… love is morning snuggles in bed. Those are the best.”
READ MORE STORIES LIKE THIS IN MY BOOK:
Voices of the Animals: A collection of insightful articles and stories that will change the way you view and treat animals. (The Conscious Bond TM)
BUY or Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733343725/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_YEV2DbNDHG6RA
What’s the secret to finding the joy in life?
First published in the Santa Barbara News-Press 12/26/18
My Great Grandma Johnson was born in 1888. At 99 years old with wavy red hair and lots of jewelry, she felt joy hearing that she looked in her 70s. She told stories of her family’s covered wagon being held up and robbed by Native Americans in Minnesota, as a child she was ordered to stay up all night shooing flies off a baby’s corpse and later went on to bury her 44-year-old daughter, my father’s mother. In her 90’s Grandma Johnson traveled often with her sister from Studio City, Ca by bus to Las Vegas to play the slots where she was frequently lucky. She had no qualms of cheating me (a 5th grader at the time) in game of gin rummy literally with cards up her sleeve. She bragged she never was sick a day in her life and died at 99 taking a nap from her very first headache. I remember vividly as a four-year-old meeting her in the hallway between bedrooms. She was wearing a robe and had a look on her face of complete astonishment. She told me she had a vision, not a dream, of a crystal world where she had met her daughter and found peace and love. At that moment, she reached into her robe pocket and gasped, bringing out a large shining crystal in her palm for both of us to witness. She held it to her heart, smiled large and breathed deep, tears streaming down her cheeks. Even as a young child, I knew something amazing had happened – a glass rock appeared from something like a dream. She was psychic too, many years before it materialized, she predicted the house and farm I would grow up at. “If there is nothing you can do about it, no point in worrying” She would say time and time again when someone complained.
My maternal Grandpa Minervini was a Marine Captain in WWII at Guadalcanal. He was responsible for many men’s lives. He told me that God, the memory of sailing and words of great poets all helped him through the trauma and that each day he knew which men would die. He could sense it in their faces when they awoke and despite his feelings, he would try to raise their spirits only to find some dead by nightfall. Long after war while we played outside, not one plane would fly overhead unidentified. Making it a game he would throw me over his shoulders like he has done many men in war, carrying me laughing and kicking to safety. He ran one of the biggest electrical businesses in NY City, cured himself naturally of prostate cancer, became pen pals with Nelson Mandela and a loved a good shot of vodka.
Why is it that people like this can go through great trauma and still find the joys in life while others fall into deep depression and are debilitated by memories of the past? Since a young age, I have studied this myself. Recently I have been privy to some information that has conceptualized what I already have known. The secret is all in the heart and our connection to spirit. What we do wrong is struggle with emotions like despair, guilt, shame, anger, hold them rotting in our gut and try to will them away.
What is best to do is breath them up with passion to the heart and feel. Once at the heart, it can feel awesome or it can hurt like clenching stabbing pain, or it can feel like dead space or boredom. I personally have felt all of those. It doesn’t matter, just keep with it, and conjure up elevated emotions like joy and gratitude. Try watching baby animals, my Giant Flemish Rabbit Clyde or people smiling. Once you feel slightly happy, a magnetic energy is created lifting your vision to the top of your head, and then out to spirit. When this happens, you are more at a place to transform your emotions, change your life, manifest what you want or just be present for a moment without stress. It sounds so easy like gazing at the stars or watching the formations of clouds. Why not?
It is a much more elaborate scientifically proven skill that Dr. Joe Dispenza teaches, but it’s a process that many people do naturally. Some people are just wired from birth to believe in possibility, to believe in health, to know that this life is supposed to bring us joy and that order comes after chaos.
My Grandma and Grandpa believed in themselves and that it is a gift to be alive. They believed they were connected to something greater than themselves. They stimulated their minds, found joy in the present moment and no matter what life threw at them they always believed in miracles.
Life is an accumulation of our thoughts and choices. Be aware and love into the coming year.
First Published in the Santa Barbara News-Press 01/02/19
It’s always fun to ask my animals what they want to manifest for themselves in the new year.
Here’s what they told me:
• Hudson, 3 1/2-year-old white shepherd: “I want to go to the beach more too. I am going to bring out my wise self and have more playmates. I am also going to manifest my paws always being healthy.”
• Ella, 5-year-old Snowshoe cat: “I don’t see very well and this morning I could see birds with my internal eye. I am going to do that more. I am going to trust my heart intuition more than my reactions. Also, I am going to get a new catnip scratching cardboard bed.”
• Felix, 8-year-old Chihuahua mix: “I am going to let more people pet me and when I get scared, I am going to remember to control my energy. I am going to learn a lot more tricks.”
• Easter, 4-year-old Chihuahua mix: “I want to learn to fly in my dreams. Also, I am going to go to the beach more.”
• Jubilee, 8-year-old Appaloosa Warmblood: “I am going to manifest my mom coming to Oregon to visit me more. I have everything I want, but I am going to be braver getting in the smaller trailers and I am going to go on more trips to the mountains. And I have already mastered running in snow. My friend, Phoenix (mustang), and I are going to learn to jump over logs at the same time. We have been practicing. Oh, and I am going to be a good friend to a bunch of new mustangs that don’t know about people yet. When you know something, it’s important to teach it to others. I learn a lot.”
• Clyde, 4-year-old Flemish Giant rabbit: “I am definitely going to learn how to race Hudson across the yard and win. I am going to make Felix be my friend. He is still standoffish, and my mom is going to get me a cardboard house for inside.”
• Seamora, 28-year-old macaw: “I am going to learn more words and dance to more music. I am going to become good friends with the yellow and black bird that comes to eat my food and swim in the fountain outside. I am going to stand on my mom’s shoulder more.”
• Luca, 8-year-old poodle: “I am going to be more agile with my jumps and weaves at agility and also I am going to be more magical in my brain.”
I have two Woolsey Fire evacuees staying at my house until their home is cleaned from smoke damage. So I have to include them, too:
• Taffy, 12-year-old poodle terrier mix: “I have already started to believe that I can do more things than I thought I could. I can walk farther and play longer. Also, I want to spend more time visiting different nature places and I also want to meet more species of animals. I want to go to the botanical gardens.”
• Dalhma, 12-year-old cat (He doesn’t like his picture taken): “I am blind, but I have started to use my internal eye to see things and it’s incredible. I feel energy and see colors that I didn’t know existed. I am going to stretch more and also make sure I eat all the healthy food given to me. I am open to new possibilities and I believe that people and animals have open hearts and want to help each other. I am going to send love out into the world and be thankful for the love that comes back to me.”
To stroll or not to stroll
First Appeared in the
Santa Barbara News-Press
I started to use a stroller with my late Australian Shepherd, Stormy, when he started rambling slowly, his elbows turned out until he’d stop to stare at me and then lay down with a huff. I purchased the DoggyRide Novel Dog Jogger-Stroller (seen in photo above with some modifications), a deluxe off-road stroller that could be converted to a bike trailer. Stormy rode in style with his adorable black head peering out, smiling at everyone he saw. He barked at seagulls at the beach as we pushed him through deep sand, up to the water’s edge. He watched sunrises and sunsets as he was pushed up mountain fire roads, and shared his love with thousands of people in towns and conventions across the West Coast. Several years into his strolling, as he aged, I had to prop him up with a pillow or open up the front so his legs could stretch out. There is no doubt in my mind that strolling added years to his life. Instead of lying at home on a dog bed staring at the walls, he was out exploring and eating snacks at restaurants. He died at age 16. His last strolling adventure the day before was at his favorite grassy park.
Out in nature, I was confident pushing Stormy’s stroller. “That is so cool,” people would remark. But my introverted self was more self-conscious in town: “Oh my gosh, Laura. I had to stop. I thought you had a baby.”
“No, it’s Stormy,” I would reply, shrinking a little bit in embarrassment, thinking to myself, “Is this what women do when they don’t have kids? Am I that crazy dog lady?” I gave myself a pass. I am The Pet Psychic. What else do people expect?
These feelings came to pass as Stormy’s social media fan club grew. “Ahhh, Stormy,” I would hear as strangers with gleaming faces surrounded the stroller, showering Stormy with love and he looked up at them with his big chestnut eyes and smiled for hundreds of selfies. Cars drove by with children hanging out the windows, screaming, “Hi, Stormy!”
I have sat in many clients’ living rooms, suggesting strollers for their aging or injured dogs. The husbands always stand up, roll their eyes and pace a few steps. “I am not going to take my dog out in a stroller.” The wife crosses her hands in her lap and looks at her dog with a grin, holding herself back from searching Amazon, I surmise. A month later, I am emailed pictures of the husband strolling with the dog at the beach or him posing with the dog, which is in the stroller, at an outdoor restaurant.
“Thank you for convincing me to get a stroller,” a friend once told me as we stood in line at a coffee shop, her two small dogs asleep in their stroller, sheltered by the cover. “People are much more understanding. They are happy I have them contained. I take them into restaurants, stores, hotels and coffee shops all the time. Living in New York City with the dogs is so much easier now. I am so glad I have them off the dirty street until we get to the park.”
A good stroller can be a monetary investment, but it is well worth the price. It’s been 10 years since I purchased Stormy’s stroller, and it has since strolled five other dogs, including, now, a rescue beagle as she loses weight until she can walk the full distance on her own.
Our egos often get in the way of living our lives more fully. Don’t let your ego hold you back. Be happy and take the leap: Experience the joys of strolling with your dog.
Check out my Amazon Store
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Troubleshoot your pet’s symptoms
FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS
May 02, 2018
Often pet owners and veterinarians will contact me to find out what is physically wrong with an animal. It may have some strange behavioral problems, be limping or panting, but no one can figure out the cause of the issue. Other times, an animal may have a diagnosis and be in treatment, but it is still not thriving. While I cannot diagnose an illness, I can determine exactly how an animal is feeling and where. I can relate that to other animals and what their diagnoses were. Oftentimes, this information will help veterinarians know where to look in the body and how to better treat the animal’s symptoms.
Dane, a shepherd mix, was a seizure alert dog who suddenly stopped alerting his person to her seizures. No one could figure out why. When he spoke with me, he told me that he had a deep pain in his left ear. It caused him so much pain that he had a hard time concentrating. The veterinarian looked in his ear and found an infected ear drum. Once that was treated, he started to alert again.
A cat named Lilly told me she was biting her people because she had a sharp pain in her neck and head. Whenever her people went to pet her, she would lift her head up higher and it would pinch a nerve. Because she was overwhelmed with a feeling like an ice-cream headache, should would bite her people out of intense fear. Lilly was adjusted by a chiropractor and put on a natural anti-inflammatory herb. Once the pain was gone, she stopped biting.
Pablo, the quarter horse, started to refuse jumps and buck his rider off. The trainers swore it was behavioral, but his person felt differently. Pablo told me that his new saddle hurt his back; it pinched at his withers and came down hard on his back when his rider would sit deep. They got him a better-fitting saddle and he never refused a jump or bucked his person off again.
Mable the cat, who was acting lethargic, told me when she breathed it felt like cold, shallow air. My experience told me this could be a heart problem or something going on with the lungs. I urged her people to take her to the vet. After an ultrasound, they found lung cancer.
So do you need to be a pet psychic to figure out what your animal is feeling? No, I don’t believe you do. But I do believe you have to be aware and you have to be in tune with your own body. Oftentimes, animals will tell you how they feel. They will send you their own feeling and you might pick up on that feeling in your body but think the feeling is your own.
For instance, a dog may have a hurt shoulder and his human may intermittently start complaining about shoulder pain. A cat may have an infected tooth and the person may find himself rubbing his own jaw. If left alone, it can get much more serious, where we take on each other’s pains and illness. A cat that has kidney problems may have a human with a kidney infection.
If you suspect your animal has an issue, ask it to over exaggerate where it hurts or how it is feeling so you can know what is going on. Tell your pet that you want to know and to please show you with its behavior.
You can also tell your pet to send you the feelings it has in its body. Tell your pet to concentrate on being clear and then send you exactly how it feels. The feeling may not happen right away, but pay attention throughout the day. There is high probability that you will feel your animal’s issue. If you do feel something different, ask yourself, “How long have I been feeling that? Did I injury myself? Eat something? Is this mine? Or is this my animal’s?” After a while, you will be able to know very quickly if they are your feelings or if you are being empathic to your animal or even to the people near you.
Common Themes To Make Your
First published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
People often request that I ask their animal, “What would make your life happier.”
There are some common themes for dogs and cats that are easy to implement into life’s routine.
Dogs ask for big grassy parks surrounded by trees. They want to play ball, frisbee or just walk around the park to sniff. Some just want to picnic on a blanket in the shade. Dogs love the feeling of rolling on the grass. If they are old or sensitive the cushion of the grass is good for arthritic bodies or toes that seem to drag.
They like walking near water. Even if they don’t wade or drink from the water they like to be around it. Streams, ponds, oceans, big lakes it doesn’t really matter. The noise and the sense of peace it illicit is calming to them.
“BBQ food” is a big request and so is “refrigerator food”, which mostly consists of cheese, deli meats and chicken. Though sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli and ice-cream are also high on the list.
Small dogs and cats like a “bed on the bed”. This typically is a donut bed on your bed so that they don’t fall off or get kicked while you are sleeping. Small dogs and cats are also big fans of sweatshirts, robes and your softest blankets.
Dogs want to learn. They want to go to “learning school”, “doggie lessons”, “jumping camp”. They want their minds stimulated. They want to learn tricks or if they are naughty they actually want to learn boundaries. They are proud of good “waits” and “stays” and will often tell me how good they are doing controlling themselves, even if you feel they have a lot of work to do!
Cats want open windows, bird feeders, birdbaths, water fountains, music on, wind chimes, tunnels, access to closets or the garage. They want “string play” or time outside even if it is on a harness. Many want to be brushed. They like crumbled freeze-dried treats. They want access to the sun, so leave those shades open! They like massages down their back. They want extremely clean litter boxes. Clean bedding is high on the list and so are clean windows, dishes and water bowls! So get to work!
Exercise is big one for all the animals. They want more walks and play time. Even the cats that don’t seem very active want to play more.
All animals love songs! They love when their people sings songs with their name in it. They don’t care if you sing well or not. It’s just that you are both happy when you are doing it. My chihuahua mix Easter asked me the other day, “I love when you sing. How do you know so many songs?” I told her, “Because I make them all up!” She didn’t care.
Now go make your pets happier!
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Talk to your pets
First published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
July 4th – Fireworks
It is fireworks season again! This is a stressful time of year for even our most confident pets. Random, unpredictable popping and sizzling occur without warning, deafening our animals’ ears and confusing their senses. The smell of burning alone can send our animals into flee mode.
Remain confident. When I was in college, I didn’t have the concept that animals could be scared of fireworks. My boyfriend and I would take out his sailboat on Long Island Sound to watch the fireworks up-close. We would stuff my two dogs’ ears full of cotton and they would sit with us happily all night watching the fireworks. They never once seemed nervous. If we felt safe they felt safe.
Knowledge is power. Explaining to your animals what is going to happen on the days leading up to Fourth of July and throughout the weekend can help prepare them for chaos. First, sit in a quiet place with your animals. Remember to breathe and empty your mind of any distractions. While you talk to your animals, picture everything you say as if there are clips of a movie playing in your mind. If you have a hard time visualizing, no worries! Just make sure your words are clear and your mind will create the pictures on its own. Try to feel every emotion and sense it in your body as if it is happening to yourself at this very moment. Then say to them, “I want to explain to you what will be happening in the next few days (pictures a few sunsets and sunrises). Every year on this weekend, adults and children play with toys (picture them with one of their toys and then a human with a firework). “These human toys make a lot of loud noises (hear sizzling and popping in your head). They also burn (remember the smell in your mind). They are safe (picture the burning only being around a firework). These toys are so wonderful for people because they fly high up in the sky and create beautiful colorful patterns in the sky or off of the toy. (Picture the fireworks and people in awe). This happens every year. People all over play with their own fireworks and then they go to a certain place on one night and watch a big display of fireworks. (Picture people playing joyfully at their home with fireworks and then traveling to where there are crowds and watching a big display).
“I know that it is scary (picture your animal scared), but you are safe, and you must stay home where you are truly protected. (Picture them confident, aware, and staying home on Fourth of July). There will be no more fireworks in a few days. (Picture it quiet again after the sun rises and sets a few times). This is what I will do for you on the day where the noise is the worst (explain where they will be and how you will help them.) I love you and want you to feel safe.”
This is what you must do: All outside animals should be contained in a safe place. Many animals that would never run away flee in terror on July 4. Please bring them into a safe shelter (garage, laundry room, house … ). Make sure they cannot climb out of windows or open the doors. At the very least lock yard gates, but inside is preferable.
Bring all your animals in at least an hour or two before nightfall. Once the noise starts it will be harder to find them. Close all windows, turn on fans or AC, leave the TV or light classical music on. Close shades so that the animals do not see the fireworks.
If your animal is frightened inside you can put a T-shirt on your animal. Safety-pin the shirt around the stomach so it is snug. This can give awareness to your dog’s body and can create more confidence. This is the same concept of the “thunder shirt”. Some dogs like to go under beds or in a covered crate.
Give your dog a light meal. Eating can affect the limbic system (the emotional center of the brain). If you have to sedate your animal, please tell them what you are doing and the reaction of the drug so they do not get frightened when they get groggy. It can make it worse, because they feel disoriented.
We love Young Living essential oils in my house. Diffuse Peace and Calming or rub a little on their back.
You can give your animal Rescue Remedy a Bach Flower Essence. It has a calming effect on animals. You can purchase it at most health food stores.
or buy the best flower essences from Meg at http://blackwingfarms.com/
You can also give them CBD oil or treats to help relax them. You can find this at many local pet pet-stores. or buy from: https://cannacompanionusa.com/
T-Touch on your Animal can help too. T-touch is a special way to touch your animal. Practitioner Jodi Frediani says, “TTouch likely engages the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing muscle tension and allowing heart rate, blood pressure and circulation to slow, in effect bringing stress levels down. Bringing the stress level down may allow a dog (or person or horse) to have more body awareness, which can help if the body is compensating because of a past fear or pain”. Check out http://ttouch.com/ to see how to perform the T-Touch. Stroking the ears of the animal also helps.
Please think of your animal this week. Take the time out to explain to them what will be happening. Be overly cautious about keeping them safe. It can save their lives.
More animals end up lost, dead, or in the shelter on Fourth of July than on any other day. Some are never found.
Please take the time to take care of your pets and have an amazing 4th of July!
This was written by a friend of mine, Deb Norton http://www.debnortonwriting.com/, in a Facebook Post.
It is great advice to share:
This probably won’t work for adult dogs who’ve already decided that fireworks sounds are the devil, but if you have a young ‘un, try this: give them a positive intro by finding a fireworks video or sound file and playing it on the tv or stereo. While it’s playing keep a confident and upbeat attitude and play a fun game that gives them something to do and works out the worry. For us, hunt-the-hot-dog worked (Yes, I know how that sounds. Get your mind out of the gutter!) – that’s where they have to sit/stay while you hide hot dog slices or other tasty treats around the house and when you say go, they get to hunt them and eat them like Pac Man. Tug games or food puzzles would probably work, too, but I think it was something about the focused effort that made hunt-the-hot-dogs really successful. Then whenever there are real fireworks or thunder or backfires or whatever, repeat the fun. After a few playful experiences with bad sounds, our dogs don’t react in the least. They even had a Civil War reenactment in the town we lived in – with cannons – and a gunfight on mainstream ever hour on the hour, for several days leading up to the actual fireworks display. The girls could not have cared less. I know how hard it can be to watch your pals shake and pant and glaze over and not be able to help them and I’ve also known folks whose dogs break down or chew through doors and bolt which is super scary, so I hope this helps somebody. Happy, unstressed 4th! (Credit for this idea goes to Laura Stinchfield the Pet Psychic, who is a critter genius.)
The Gangster’ vs. ‘The Peaceful Pup’: Labels we give our pets
First Published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
April 11, 2018
So often we put labels on animals. Some of them sound like this: “She is aggressive.” “He is shy and was abused.” “He will run your over.” “She is neurotic and barks at everything.” “He runs off.” “She has separation anxiety.” “She’s mad when we go away and pees on the carpet.” “He hates skateboards.”
When we put these labels on our animals, they become stuck in the behavior. Now don’t get me wrong: It’s important to notice an undesirable behavior and take steps to change it. But it is also important to watch what you are saying and thinking while you are doing that. I can’t tell you how many times I have noticed people working hard on changing a behavior with training but still labeling their animals with the behavior they don’t want. I have been guilty of this myself. It takes real awareness to see it.
A few years ago, I adopted a Chihuahua mix from the Downey shelter, which is a hardcore kill shelter. Felix was scheduled to be euthanized the day he was rescued. He had been a stray for some time and wasn’t neutered. When he first came to be with me, he was food-aggressive, would snap at people when they tried to pet him, and would lunge, chase and bite fur off dogs that approached him or ran in his vicinity. I labeled him “The Gangster.” This labeled suited him to the point that the behavior would elicit chuckles from those who witnessed it. But what was I really doing?
Felix made great progress within the year after being rescued. He set appropriate boundaries around his food bowl but was not aggressive. Instead of lunging at people who tried to pet him, I taught him to go behind my legs. He does that now without needing my praise. It’s his safe spot and I won’t allow people to follow him there. Now three years later, he does allow some people to pet him. “The Gangster” still suited him with some strange dogs. The label stuck and continued to make many people laugh.
Then I realized that sometimes Felix was proud to be a gangster! No joke! He had a big grin after his naughty behavior. Oh no! By labeling him that, I was encouraging the behavior. So I stopped and allowed a different behavior to emerge. Now instead of attacking another dog or when on leash hiding behind my legs, he may come out wagging his tail and try to sniff them. Off leash, he may run away when an energetic dog runs by him instead of biting the fur off the dog’s thigh.
I asked Felix what changed. He said, “I started to realize that I could be in the moment and see things for what they are. I started to realize that you want me confident, calm and smart and I feel like I am that inside. When I acted like The Gangster, I was really a scared bully. It helps me when you visualize me being the dog you want me to be.
“I now know how to do that because I have done it with other behaviors, like learning tricks and meeting people. Life is safer and more fun than I originally thought. What helped me is when you started labeling me a “Peaceful Pup,” because that helps me feel the energy of peace. I still do “gangster” sometimes, but I try to stop myself when I feel myself moving in that direction.”
Good boy, Felix!
By being more conscious of our own behavior, we can teach our animals to be more conscious of theirs.
Want to hear what your animals have to say?
First published in the
Santa Barbara News-Press
The Art of Communication
In the 1990s, Norwegian dog trainer and behaviorist Turid Rugaas studied canine behavior and in 1996 published the widely acclaimed book “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals.” Turid teaches how to be a keen observer of canine behavior. We can use her work to understand the behaviors of many species.
Animals use body language to calm themselves or other animals in stressful situations, to show dominance, to communicate to us where they have pain in their body or to show us when they are confused or confident. Some of these body language signals are looking away, blinking, yawning, fake sniffing the ground, approaching in an arc, shaking, sitting, lying down and play bowing.
Body signals of a lack of calming or when an animal is getting stressed include closing/clenching of the mouth, staring, leaning on the front paws, stiff body and panting. These often lead to fear or territorial aggression or other timid behaviors.
It can be dangerous not to know and understand these signals. Most humans expect domesticated animals to learn human voice commands and hand signals without acknowledging that animals have a native language of their own. This is selfish on our part. Often when people do not understand animal body language, they inadvertently are late to discipline or scold an animal at the time of inappropriate behavior and may scold while the animal is calming themselves. This can result in increased aggression, fear, lack of confidence, illness and in general creates confusion and dysfunction in the animals’ lives.
It is important to pay attention to our own body language and how we may be sending an animal mixed messages. For instance, a human may think bending over with one’s torso to greet an animal is welcoming when in actuality it is telling an animal that you are more dominant and that they must submit to you. You may notice when dogs are dominant to one another (in play or aggression) they may throw a chin or paw up on the other’s shoulder. If you want an animal to feel safe and come to you, bend with your knees not with your torso and/or blink your eyes or turn your body to the side.
Another common misconception is thinking it is disrespectful if the animal looks at you and looks away when you are speaking with the animal. Holding eye contact is also a form of dominance in the animal kingdom. Your animal is being polite when they look and look away. You may also see these behaviors in children when you are disciplining them. They are instinctual across species.
If we start to mindfully watch animals, we can praise an animal for exhibiting calming signals, which will, in turn, build confidence, independence and communication skills in all situations and relationships. For instance, if you have two animals that are not getting along in the house, you can start praising them for their positive communication skills. If the dog is staring at the cat with his mouth closed and then looks away, give praise. If the cat licks or fake grooms in the presence of the dog, praise. We can also teach the animals to look away when we see them staring at each other and then praise. This will remind them how to calm themselves. We can do this during any stressful situation.
We should start to notice an animal’s behavior as we approach it or are petting it. If the eyes start to stare, mouth closes, and body gets stiff, we should retreat. Perhaps the animal is nervous and may bite or perhaps we have just touched a sore spot on the animal’s body. In general, a soft eye and open mouth is safe.
If people use their knowledge of animal behavior to communicate more efficiently with their animals, it will build confidence and trust. The bond between human and animal will become more affectionate and understanding. Start watching your animals more closely and see what you discover.
Want to hear what your animals have to say?