Our Pets Can Be Our Mirrors

They say our most important relationships teach us about ourselves, and our relationships with our companion animals are no different. Whether our pets teach us to be patient or playful, calm or creative, we learn a lot about life and ourselves just because they are part of our lives.

You’ve heard that saying (and maybe even seen for yourself) that people and their pets often look alike. But they often act alike too. It’s unclear if we tend to gravitate towards animals we (consciously or unconsciously) see as similar to ourselves or if we end up acting alike due to the sheer amount of time we spend together. Or both. Whatever the initial cause, there’s no denying that we can learn a lot from animals because they mirror our behaviors, personalities and fears.

Interestingly enough, some of the most important lessons we learn from our pets come from the behaviors they have that can irritate us the most. In fact, often when people come to me for pet psychic readings, it’s often because they’re concerned about or irritated by one or more of their pet’s behaviors. Such was the case with *Rochelle, whose Dalmatian, Jack, was showing signs of anxiety when she came to me. Rochelle was exasperated because she felt like she gave Jack a ton of attention and love, so she didn’t understand what the source of his anxiety could be. When I checked in with Jack, I found he really did feel Rochelle loved and cared for him, and he had no complaints about her. And while Dalmatians often have the reputation for being a high-strung breed, he didn’t feel anxious–except when he sensed Rochelle was anxious. In his mind, he felt he was helping her by sharing her emotional states, including the anxious ones. As I relayed this information to Rochelle, a light bulb figuratively went off over her head. She admitted to being treated for anxiety, but she hadn’t made the connection that her anxiety could affect Jack. Understanding that he was mirroring her helped her realize that she could help him by helping herself–and she felt better about their relationship overall. 

Dalmatian_black_front

Jack the Dalmatian mirrored his human’s anxiety, helping her better take care of them both. Photo by Wikipedia.

Our animal companions don’t always mirror our behavior, but it’s a good idea to check to see if the behaviors, emotions or quirks you’re concerned about in your pet could be ones you’re modeling yourself. This can better help you understand and care for your companion animal. If you need further guidance, don’t hesitate to contact me for a pet psychic reading.

*Names changed for client privacy.

 

Awareness in Animals

Beyond the things we can see about our companion animals–their personalities, habits and even their quirks–is something we may not understand: an energetic awareness. Animals are aware of energies such as our emotions, which is why they scurry when we’re angry or stand by us after a bad day. And they are aware of the energy around us, from the general atmosphere of our home to the people (living and dead) who visit us to impending natural disasters. That energetic awareness helps animals’ heightened instincts deal with and prepare for different situations that can occur. And sometimes it even helps them prepare for their own deaths.

This is a lesson I learned through a sweet, spunky Bourke’s parakeet named Lollie. Because she was sick with multiple infections when she came to live with me, I spent the first 6 weeks worried that Lollie wouldn’t survive. After various medications and lots of Reiki, Lollie recovered well, but our tenuous beginnings and the fact that she was so little and old (10 at the time) made me extra careful about her, wanting to make her last years comfy and healthy.

Lollie-2013_sm

I protected Lollie, the Bourke’s parakeet, when she came to my flock, but she protected me too.

Two years later, Lollie seemed just fine when I took her in for a routine beak trim between Christmas and New Year’s. So I was surprised and grief-stricken when her heart stopped and she died in the middle of being groomed. I blamed myself, worried I hadn’t done enough to protect her so she could live longer. The fact that it was the holiday season made her passing harder, since that time is supposed to be happy.

But as I tuned into Lollie’s energy, it became clear that she had been not only aware it was her time to die, she’d been ready for it and had chosen the moment of her death perfectly. Feeling her purpose was to keep the other birds in line while I went on a trip, Lollie waited until I returned from that trip and could spend a few last days with her to pass away. She also waited until there were people around I’d trust so I didn’t have to face her death by myself. While I had felt a purpose to protect Lollie in life, her awareness of her of impending death showed her love for and protection of me. What an amazing gift!

I’m definitely not the only person to lose a beloved companion animal during the holiday season. In fact, shelters and veterinarians report an increase in pets passing away during this time of year, whether they pass naturally at home or need to be euthanized due to advanced illness or injury. And while many of those are accidents, much of that can be attributed to our companion animals’ keen awareness of the energy and emotions at this time of year. Just like Lollie, companion animals are aware that we won’t be alone and that there’s an atmosphere of celebration during the holidays. If we’re surrounded by loved ones, we’ll be able to lean on them for support if our pets pass away. And if we have festivities to concentrate on, it can ease the pain of their passing.

While losing pets is difficult at any time, understanding that animals often have an awareness that often extends to their deaths can help us find more peace.

Sense of Purpose in Pets: Companionship

Animals often come into our lives with an innate purpose that they not only feel strongly about but is inherently part of their makeup. In a previous article, I mentioned one such purpose is protection. Other animals have a different purpose, one of of companionship. These animals feel it’s their job to keep us company or to be our sidekicks and are happiest just being by our sides.

Pets that have an innate sense of companionship can sometimes get nervous when left alone because they see it as being left behind. That was the case with Murphy*, a rat terrier whose parents came to me for a pet psychic reading because they were concerned he was unhappy and had separation anxiety. Murphy’s parents really loved him and wanted him to be happy, but they didn’t understand why he seemed so worried when they left the home, even to run to the store. After I checked in with Murphy, I assured them that he didn’t have separation anxiety as much as he didn’t understand why he wasn’t going along with them when they left. In his mind, his job was to be by their sides 24/7–to be their sidekick. So when they left for work or errands or travel, he expected to go along so he could continue doing his job. Murphy’s parents helped lesson his stress by making a bigger effort to take him along when they could. And when they couldn’t take him with, they explained to him beforehand that they were going places dogs weren’t allowed to be and played relaxing music in the home during their absence. Murphy’s stress subsided and he was able to do his job even more than before, making him happier!

Companion animals with an inherent companionship purpose can get nervous when left alone, like Murphy, the rat terrier, was. Photo by FanPop.com

Companion animals with an inherent companionship purpose can get nervous when left alone, like Murphy, the rat terrier, was. Photo by FanPop.com

If your pet has a tag-along nature, it may indicate he or she has a companionship purpose. Enjoy having a companion animal that cares so much for you!

*Name changed to protect client privacy. 

Provide for Your Pet’s Animal Nature

One of the best ways to ensure your pet is healthy and happy is to understand and provide for their needs as a specific species or breed. When people hire me for pet psychic readings in order to better understand their animals, they often have big “ah-ha moments” when I share what needs their pets have as an animal. While our pets are bred in captivity and they adapt well to living with humans, their DNA still holds generations of the wild characteristics of their breed or animal type. And understanding and meeting the needs of that animal nature is one way that pet parents can help their pets naturally relax and thrive.

Help animal companions thrive because you meet their breed and individual needs.

Ronnie, a seven-year old Australian cattle dog, was incredibly smart and incredibly strong. His family had called me for a pet psychic reading to find out why he got into mischief so often. During the reading, I explained that Ronnie was typical of cattle dogs in that he has a naturally high energy level. High energy plus high intelligence in a companion animal is a combination that necessitates pet parents consistently provide a lot of mental and physical stimulation. This manages a pet’s energy and prevents boredom and acting out. Ronnie wasn’t getting his energy out on with regular walks, so he used that energy plus his intelligence to get into mischief instead. When I explained that he needed a 45-minute walk twice a day as well as an agility course now and then, to help manage his energy, his pet parents were relieved to know he was a happy dog otherwise and that something as simple as regular exercise could help him stay out of the trash and forbidden food.

Several dogs breeds, like the Australian cattle dog, have high energy levels, and regular exercise helps them manage that. Photo by VetStreet.com

Several dogs breeds, like the Australian cattle dog, have high energy levels, and regular exercise helps them manage that. Photo by VetStreet.com

Help animal companions thrive by treating them like the animal they are rather than as a human or another animal.

I learned this first-hand when I adopted Lucky, a 12-year old African gray parrot who had spent most of his life around dogs. I quickly realized that Lucky considered himself to be something between a human and a dog. He was more comfortable walking around on the floor than perching. He had no concept of playing with bird toys. And he felt like being in or even on his cage was a punishment rather than a place to be safe and play. But I kept him on a consistent schedule with the other members of my flock, introduced him to toys, gave him time to get used to his cage, etc. I treated him like a pet bird.

And he flourished.

Within 2 months, he played with toys, his feathers grew back and he’d stopped plucking his feathers out. He perched nearby as I worked and began taking to his cage on his own for downtime and playtime. He grew used to the other birds and began to understand that he’s one of them. He adjusted beautifully. And while I don’t feel Lucky’s previous family did him a disservice by treating him differently than I did, when he came to me he was able to thrive as a bird because I treated him as one.

Treating Lucky the African gray parrot like he was a pet bird rather than a human or dog, helped him feel secure and stop plucking his feathers.

Treating Lucky the African gray parrot like he was a pet bird rather than a human or dog, helped him feel secure and stop plucking his feathers.

Not sure what your specific breed of companion animal needs? Check with reputable sites, such as Animal Planet. Or book a pet psychic reading with me.

Sense of Purpose in Pets: Protection

We bring animals into our lives to keep us company, to entertain us, and, in some cases, to keep us safe. But what we may not consider when we’re taking in and caring for these wonderful creatures is they have often have a sense of purpose that’s innate and strong. It’s not always something we teach as much as something they feel. It’s part of their breed or personality. One such purpose is to protect us.

Zane*, an American Water Spaniel, paced around the house often, so his worried family came to me for a pet psychic reading. They were concerned that his pacing indicated Zane was needy, unhappy or both, and they hoped a reading with me could help them convey how much they loved him so he’d be less restless.

When I spent time with Zane, though, he made it clear that he wasn’t unhappy or needy. He didn’t see his behavior as pacing at all — he saw it as a kind of patrolling, enabling him to check on each of the family members. In his mind, it was a nurturing, protective act and not one that indicated restlessness or anxiety. Zane felt strongly that it was his job to make sure everyone was ok. He had an innate sense of purpose for his family: to watch out for and protect them. Keeping tabs on them all was a big part of fulfilling that purpose. Knowing this helped his family understand his point of view and realize that he wasn’t unhappy or nervous.

Some animals have an innate sense of purpose to protect their families, like Zane the American Water Spaniel did. Photo by VetStreet.com.

Some animals have an innate sense of purpose to protect their families, like Zane the American Water Spaniel did. Photo by VetStreet.com.

Sometimes the protection purpose your pet may have is to watch out for or protect you even through her death. That’s a lesson that Emily, a high school senior who came to me for a reading, learned through the death of her Calico cat, Chloe. When Chloe passed away from natural causes at only 8 years old, Emily wondered if there was more she could have done to protect Chloe from illness to prolong her life. When I connected to Chloe’s spirit, though, it was clear that she’d had a genetic defect that gave her a short lifespan, and that she’d always planned to pass away before Emily left for college to spare Emily the stress of leaving her beloved cat behind. In a way, Chloe passing earlier than Emily expected had spared her a different kind of pain later. That was part of Chloe’s protective purpose in Emily’s life.

Pets sometimes protect us from having to make tough decisions, like Chloe the Calico cat did for her human, Emily. Photo by Babble.com.

Pets sometimes protect us from having to make tough decisions, like Chloe the Calico cat did for her human, Emily. Photo by Babble.com.

If your pet has a protective nature, it definitely comes from a place of love and duty. Enjoy having a companion animal that cares so much for you!

*All names changed to protect client privacy. 

Connect with Pets that Have Passed Away

The passing of a beloved pet is never easy, no matter what the circumstances are. We miss and mourn the loss of our companion animals, who truly are members of our families, and we often wonder how we could have prevented our pet’s death or prolonged his or her life.

The poem “Rainbow Bridge” gives comfort that our companion animals are happy in a realm beyond, but it’s often difficult to find peace and settle into life in this realm without them. We long for questions to be answered so we can have peace of mind and move forward.

Rainbow Bridge

Pet psychic readings can give you the answers you seek. By connecting to the spirit of your beloved animal, I can communicate and get questions answered for greater peace of mind.

Denise* experienced this first hand. After her beloved Pekinese, Oscar, passed away suddenly, Denise came to me for a reading to get questions answered. Oscar had passed away from eating tainted pet food that was later recalled, but Denise had no idea that it was harmful when she purchased it. She was haunted by a feeling of responsibility for Oscar’s death and wanted to know if he forgave her, as well as if he was in a great deal of pain when he passed away.

Oscar may have been a small dog when he was alive, but during the reading, I felt his big spirit come through strongly. He had a strong sense of love and protection for Denise as well as the other dogs in the home. His experience passing away had been sudden for him, and he hadn’t felt as much pain as a large sense of fatigue and confusion about why his body was no longer working properly. And he didn’t hold Denise responsible at all for his death. Oscar knew Denise loved him and wouldn’t intentionally harm him. I was glad to be introduced to this little guy’s spirit and to be able to give Denise some comfort about his passing to help her move on.

Pet psychic readings can connect you to pets that have passed away, giving you peace of mind. Photo by Roger.

Pet psychic readings can connect you to pets that have passed away, giving you peace of mind. Photo by Roger.

If you are looking for answers or to connect to a loved one that’s passed away, I’d love to help. Book a reading with me to communicate with your beloved pets.

*Names all changed to protect client anonymity.

Boredom Busters for Pets

Pets need food, shelter and companionship to stay happy and healthy, but they also need mental stimulation. This keeps them from getting bored, which can lead to them becoming anxious or acting out. You’ll notice pets being bored in behavior such as

  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Excessive grooming or vocalization
  • Being disobedient or slow to obey
  • Destroying your home or yard
Bored pets often can act out, destroying your home.

Bored pets often can act out, destroying your home.

Providing enrichment or stimulation through the methods below can meet your pet’s mental needs and bust any boredom he or she may experience.

Teach your pet tricks. Aside from learning obedience, teaching your dog to sit or your parrot to step up helps stimulates a pet’s mind, keeping him or her from being bored. Be sure to reward desired behavior with treats and praise.

Provide playtime and exercise. Pets let off steam, learn to interact and have fun when they have regular playtime and exercise. Try using a fun chasing toy to play with your cat or throwing a ball to or tackling an agility course with your dog. Give your parakeet a swing or ladder to explore in her cage, or drop a ping pong ball in the aquarium for your beta fish to chase.

Regular playtime helps pets' minds active and busts boredom. Photo by cats.lovetoknow.com.

Regular playtime helps pets’ minds active and busts boredom. Photo by cats.lovetoknow.com.

Give your pets regular social interaction. Interacting regularly with people or other pets helps keep your pet’s mind active. Taking a trip to the dog park, having the kids play with the cat, etc. helps your pet bond with you, feel good and learn the rules of proper interaction, engaging his mind.

Supply toys that stimulate the mind.  Aside from playtime toys, to abate boredom you can provide mental stimulation to your pet through toys that challenge them. For dogs and cats, hide a treat in a puzzle toy or maze toy to challenge them to retrieve their treats. Foraging toys provide a challenge and reward for animals that are naturally foragers in the wild, so attach a foraging toy to a parrot’s cage or drop a moss ball into an aquarium to keep fish, particularly beta fish, chasing and grazing.

Foraging toys like this one challenge pets to keep boredom at bay. Photo by Drs. Foster and Smith.

Foraging toys like this one challenge pets to keep boredom at bay. Photo by Drs. Foster and Smith.

Try these tricks to keep your pet mentally stimulated. If you’re still puzzled by your pet or need more insights to help him or her, feel free to book a pet reading with me.

Understanding Anxiety in Pets

Companion animals bring us so much comfort and happiness, and we hope that loving and caring for them will help them feel loved, safe and secure. But sometimes our pets display anxious behavior no matter how much we love and care for them. When they do, it’s important to understand why so we can help lessen or alleviate it.

Know Their Nature. Understanding an animal’s natural tendencies, past and personal nature can help you understand his/her anxiety.

While most of our pets are bred in captivity, their DNA still carries characteristics of the type of animal or breed they are in the wild, and no matter how much we love them or work to make them feel safe, that DNA can make them more prone to nervousness or anxiety.

  • Animals that are prey in the wild, such as rodents, lizards, and birds, can be naturally jumpy at noises, movement or changes to their environments.
  • If animals naturally live in groups in the wild, such as dogs or birds, then being left alone can lead to anxiety because that’s not only an unnatural state, it can leave them vulnerable to danger.
  • Some breeds of dogs and cats are naturally high-energy and may become anxious when that energy isn’t managed well.

While their DNA is part of their makeup, other factors can play into your pet’s nature as well.

  • Animals may not naturally rebound from previous trauma or stress easily, and anxiety can be part of their nature because of it.
  • No matter their breed inclination, some animals, like people, have naturally sensitive natures, making them more prone to anxious behavior.

Knowing the natural inclination of an animal’s species/breed, past or personality can help you choose a companion animal that’s less prone to anxiety or to understand that his or her anxiety isn’t caused by you.

Because lizards, birds, and rodents are prey in the wild, they can be naturally jumpy or anxious as pets. Photo by Patti Haskins.

Because lizards, birds, and rodents are prey in the wild, they can be naturally jumpy or anxious as pets. Photo by Patti Haskins.

Meet Their Needs. Aside from basic feeding and shelter, animals have physical and mental needs that, if not met, can cause anxiety or acting out. Dogs, for example, need daily exercise to regulate their energy, and they can get rambunctious or anxious when they don’t get enough exercise. Parrots need daily mental stimulation through playing with foraging toys or learning tricks as well as time out of their cages, or they can become anxious. Understanding and meeting your pet’s physical and mental needs will help prevent or lessen anxiety.

Dogs need daily exercise to help them regulate their energy, keeping anxiety and acting out at bay. Photo by CanaryZoo.com

Dogs need daily exercise to help them regulate their energy, keeping anxiety and acting out at bay. Photo by CanaryZoo.com

Help Them Holistically. Even after understanding your pet’s nature and meeting his needs, anxious behavior can occur. When you can’t counteract nature, you can do many things holistically that help lessen anxiety in your companion animal. Herbal tinctures and supplements, as well as essential oils suitable for pets, are widely available to help your pet be more calm in a way that’s safer for him/her. I’m a big fan of Rescue Remedy for Pets, as it helps calm pets instantly. Read more at

Herbal Remedies for Dogs

5 Herbs to Reduce Stress in Your Cat

Herbal Remedies for Parrots

Understanding the causes of anxiety in your pet can give you better understanding to care for him or her.

If you’d like more understanding of your companion animal’s state of mind, feel free to book a reading with pet psychic Jennafer Martin to gain even more insights into his or her individual point of view or state of mind.

Love & Loyalty in Animals

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude,

then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”

–James Herriot

Animals show us love by grooming and/or licking us. Photo by www.why.do

Animals show love by grooming and licking us. Photo by why.do

Animals add so much to our lives! We enjoy their companionship and protection, and they provide us with entertainment from time to time. And while their behavior can amuse us, touch us, or elude us, animals are so much more than their behaviors. Like humans, animals have personalities, souls and emotions, and among those emotions that bless our lives most are love and loyalty. Animals show us a lot of their inner emotions through their behavior: a wagging tail conveys a dog’s happiness, a continuous purr denotes a cat’s contentment, flapping wings convey a bird’s excitement, and so on. And love and loyalty are no different. Our companion animals show both in some very common behaviors, including:

  • Remaining at your side when you’re sick
  • Being silly to entertain you if you’re down
  • Posturing to protect you from potential threats
  • Licking, nuzzling or grooming you
  • Climbing in your lap or on your shoulder to comfort you
  • Running up to or climbing onto you happily when you come home or wake up
  • Sharing their toys, latest kills, or even partially digested food with you
Animals show love and loyalty staying by our sides when sick. Photo by Reddit.com

Animals show love and loyalty staying by our sides when sick. Photo courtesy of Reddit.com

I’m sure you can point to several instances where your pets displayed love or loyalty to you—or both. Sometimes these instances happen so often that we may even take them for granted. We show our love and loyalty to animals in caring for and spending time with them—and, honestly, sometimes letting them take over our beds so there’s barely any room for us to sleep. But don’t forget to tell your pets that you love them regularly. Because they live in a sensory world, they can feel and sense the energy with which you speak to them even when the words don’t compute.

Want to find out more about what your pet is thinking or feeling? Book a reading with me. 

Good Vibrations: Energy Work & Animals

Because animals live in a world of senses, they feel and respond to the energy of people, activities, words and interactions. Sensing this energy helps animals navigate life well. If they sense a predator’s presence or an impending natural disaster, they can flee. If they sense that people have good intentions, they will walk right up to them–or avoid those that don’t. Companion animals can sense our moods, like Molly the Quaker Parrot did when I had a bad day; she’d cuddle up next to me to let me know I wasn’t alone. And some dogs have been known to bark when their people are arguing to call attention to it and help break the tension.

Because animals naturally sense and respond to energy, they respond well to energy work practices such as theta healing and Reiki. These modalities help increase relaxation, reduce anxiety and pain, and even ease the transition when dying. As a Reiki practitioner since 2005, I’ve seen this non-invasive technique–that originated in Japan more than 100 years ago and is now practiced worldwide–benefit many animals, from pets to livestock to exotic animals. This simple, effective tool particularly helps animals who are rescued or adopted feel more at ease as they transition to new environments and learn to trust new caregivers.

Because they are sensory beings, animals respond well to energy work.

Because they are sensory beings, animals respond well to energy work. Photo courtesy of loveofanimals.ca.

In my own life, I’ve seen energy work benefit a cockatiel named Nacho. It wasn’t long after I’d taken guardianship of this feisty, whistling charmer from a rescue organization that we discovered he had liver failure. When antibiotics didn’t cure the issue, and the stress of multiple vet visits seemed to leave him more ragged than healthy, I faced the inevitability that Nacho would pass away soon. I decided to help his last days be as comfy as possible, full of favorite treats and peace and quiet at home. I also decided to try giving him Reiki treatments to increase his comfort.

Reiki with Nacho was simple and effective. When I put my hands up to share energy, he got very calm and seemed to enjoy the comforting Reiki energy as well as his time with me. And while I expected Nacho would pass away after a few months, I was wrong–he lived another three years. He had some low times, but he’d quickly perk up with a Reiki treatment. I truly believe that Reiki, along with his feisty nature, is what kept him alive so much longer than I’d expected.

Nacho the cockatiel responded very well to Reiki treatments.

Nacho the cockatiel responded very well to Reiki treatments.

Animals of all kinds respond well to energy work to help relax them, clear energy blocks and more. To try energy work as a tool to help your companion animal, contact one of the great organization that share Reiki with animals, including Reiki Fur Babies, Animal Reiki Source and Shelter Animal Reiki Association or schedule a reading with me, which includes Reiki as needed.

Read more about Nacho’s journey with Reiki by reading Jennafer’s article, “Reiki to the Rescue” in Pets in the City Magazine’s March 2013 issue.