Intuitive Communication with Animals
Empathy is defined as understanding and entering in to another’s feelings. We all do this to some degree. We listen to another’s story of calamity and we know how they feel. We may cry or laugh along with them completely in tune with their feelings. This can also be applied to animals when we have the understanding that animal feeling may diverge from what makes “sense” to a human. Empathy is also called clairsentience or clear feeling.
The first time I shared empathetic feeling with another being was on Market Street in San Francisco. This is a main thoroughfare, busy, noisy, and crowded with people. It was noon and I was headed out for lunch.
I was walking up Market Street, distracted by my thoughts when I suddenly realized that I was in complete and utter pain. I was shocked into the present moment by it. I felt it deep in my bones, and it occurred to me that I might have bone cancer. The pain was so severe that for a fleeting moment I diagnosed myself with bone cancer. Then I realized I was not in pain at all. I rarely have pain. I looked around me. I was walking with a group of people; an older woman in front of me moved slowly and stiffly. I was keenly aware that I was experiencing her pain. It could have been osteoarthritis or it could have been the more severe rheumatoid arthritis; I didn’t stick around to find out, I got far away from the woman before I was overwhelmed by it.
Afterward, I realized more consciously (sometimes you will find that intuitive realizations are very fleeting) that I was feeling all sorts of things that did not belong to me. And I sought some help to screen out the “feelings of others” in my day-to-day existence.
Empathy or being able to feel another’s pain can be very useful in helping an animal’s companion to understand the depth of an illness. A woman in Arizona called me last summer to help her decide if her dog should be put down or not. This is a very difficult decision for anyone. We can be deeply entwined with a beloved animal, and trying to determine if its quality of life is still good is hard to do when our emotions are involved.
The woman had emailed me a lovely picture of a gray and white Shih Tzu. “Lola’s” eyes sparkled in the photo and it was obvious that this was indeed a happy dog. I contacted Lola to get an overall impression of what she was feeling. At that moment, Lola was very concerned with her friend (the woman in Arizona) because she had been crying and was very distressed.
I looked at Lola’s overall feeling and her health. She was very tired but had no pain. She was so very tired, in fact, that she did not feel like moving around the house all that much. She wanted to sit in the sun and do nothing more than to look at her human companion and feel the love she had for her. I asked her if she understood what death was (This is a difficult concept for many animals, but not all.). This had not occurred to her. She had no concept of death and I did not dwell on it. I then looked at her body and visualized the timeline of her life. Her life was quickly running out. I looked out to her death and found her peaceful and pain-free.
It is always easy to look at an animal and know much about its health and well being. It is difficult to tell the human companion these things. The woman in Arizona was most concerned with Lola and her comfort. Her first question: ‘Was she in pain?’ was easy to answer. Slowly, I delivered the information to the woman and allowed her to cry. I suggesting that Lola would expire peacefully and there may be no need to put her down. There was a long silence. And then Lola broke into the conversation.
I could see her dancing on the back of a white chair with a red bow in her hair. I asked the woman if she put ribbons in her hair? ‘No,’ was the emphatic response. “Well,” I said, “there is something that Lola wants to say about a hair bow in the knot of hair on the top of her head.” As the woman thought about what I had said, it occurred to her that Lola was taken to a dog groomer that had occasionally tried to get her to put a bow in Lola’s hair. She realized that Lola wanted to be groomed.
The woman explained that the grooming had stopped when Lola lost her hair during her illness. In fact, Lola could no longer go out because her immune system was weak. I suggested that if it was possible, the groomer should come to her house and do what she could for Lola, even if it was to make a fuss and nothing more. The woman agreed that is would make Lola feel wonderful to have the attention again. It seems that Lola experienced quite a lift from visiting the groomer in the past.
I ended the phone conversation and asked that the woman email me when Lola died. Several weeks later she did. The woman said that indeed the groomer came out to the house and did what she could with the little hair that remained. Lola, as usual, was elated by the experience. She died several hours later lying next to her friend in a happy and regal state.
Moira Allen, who has published a book on coping with the loss of one’s pet, has created the Pet Loss Support page for those who seek support groups, hotlines, counselors and pet cemeteries. The website also includes informational articles on topics like euthanasia and defining quality of life.
Ed Williams publishes the Pet Loss Grief Support Website. And while the canned music is a bit too saccharine for my taste, I think the Monday Pet Loss Candle Ceremony is lovely and the Inspirational Poems section is soothing. There seems to be a poem for every occasion. The Rainbow Bridge is my favorite.