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. 

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. 

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.

Mentally Communicate with Animals

As I mentioned in a previous article, because animals live in a sensory world, it’s natural to them to send you mental images to visually communicate what they want. Aside from the energy they carry, words don’t mean much to animals, so it makes more sense for them to send you a picture of them playing outside than to send you the words, “hey, I want to go outside”.

Sending images to communicate can work in reverse, too–you can communicate with animals by mentally sending them pictures. When Tika, a love bird in my little flock, refuses to return to her cage periodically, I calmly send her mental images of her flying into her cage and receiving a treat. This method of communication has been much more effective than calling to her or chasing her around the house till she complies. (Trust me.)

Peach-front love bird Tika responds well to communication via mental image.

Peach-front love bird Tika responds well to communication via mental image.

Sending mental images can be very helpful if you’re not near your companion animal or for animals that you aren’t able to calm through touch. When I was to care for a friend’s iguana for two weeks while she was on vacation, I sent the iguana mental pictures of me feeding and gently petting him, which helped him warm up to me more quickly. And when a porpoise at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium was distressed because her calf was temporarily separated from her for a routine checkup, I was able to help calm her by sending mental pictures of her and her calf swimming together happily.

It’s not hard to communicate in pictures with the animals in your life. Try it: a few moments before you intend to spend time with your pet, send him or her a mental image of you two playing together or cuddling. Or, the next time you need to leave for an appointment or trip, send your pet images of you returning home so he or she knows it’s only temporary. This calm way to communicate can bring you and your animals closer together.

Picture That!

Most animal communication that we humans understand comes through an animal’s behavior. When a dog wags his tail, we understand that he’s excited or playful, and when a cat purrs, we know she’s content. We understand that a bird is feeling territorial or stressed if he nips when we get near his cage and that a fish may not be feeling well if she’s not eating. You get the idea. I’m sure you can point to many ways that your pet’s behavior communicates to you.

But there’s a more subtle way that animals communicate with us as well–they send us visual images or pictures to convey what’s on their minds.

Illustration by Stacey Reid

Illustration by Stacey Reid

Think back. Have you had a vision in your mind’s eye of your dog standing at the door to the backyard so you suddenly knew he wanted to go outside? Or seen a small video in your mind of your bird happily devouring a sunflower seed, letting you know he wanted a specific treat? Visions like these often come from animals to communicate what they want or need. It’s easy to dismiss them as your imagination, something I did the first few times that Pippin (a sun conure) sent me pictures of him contentedly perched on my shoulder. It took a few times of him sending that same image for me to realize that he was telling me he’d rather be with me than with in his cage. But it wasn’t my imagination–and images like this may not be yours, either. It may just be messages from an animal.

Animals live in a sensory world, so what they see, smell, hear, taste and feel is truly how they experience things. Sending visuals images is a natural way for animals to communicate, because words don’t really mean anything to animals, except for the energy with which they are said and the behavior they learn to associate with them. So instead of sending you a “hey, I want to go outside” sentence, they send pictures of them darting through an open door and cavorting in the grass.

When I’m doing readings with animals, they send me pictures, rather than words, to communicate. I asked Marley the kitten about his favorite toy, and he sent me a picture of a mouse on a string. And when I asked Ruby the dog about her past owners, she showed me a succession of pictures of her being tied up in the yard for long periods of time, so I knew she had been left alone a lot. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.

It’s not just domesticated animals that send images to communicate, either. As I was leaving a late-night fundraiser at the zoo, I stopped by the rhino enclosure and one mentally sent me a few pictures in a row of him falling asleep and then being awoken by people talking or music playing nearby. I was able to understand from the pictures he sent that all this partying was keeping him from sleep.

Animals definitely communicate in pictures! So the next time you suddenly get a picture in your mind about an animal, don’t dismiss it. Think about what the animal may be trying to communicate in a way other than words.