I grew up always wanting to be around animals, not unlike many young people. But I always found myself drawn to particular animals, never knowing (or realizing) why. As a kid, my family had a dog, Max. He was a german shepherd and, true to his breed’s characteristics, he was devoted to our family. My mother always knew whose house my siblings and I were at on the country road where we grew up. Whichever house we were at, Max would be sitting at their driveway waiting to escort us home. Max was my companion and confidante during my younger years. Although I was young, I can remember laying with Max and telling him things — sometimes out loud aand sometimes I would just tell him in my mind. I don’t remember ever hearing responses back from him, but I do remember always feeling better after I had bared my soul to him.
As a young teenager, I would visit a farm up the road from my home. I did this mostly to be around the cows and horses…and actually one cow in particular. I remember my first time walking up to the field where all the cows were waiting to go back into the barn for the day. She had a tag on her ear, with the number 53 in it. There was something about her eyes, and the way they connected with mine. I didn’t think much of it until a couple of days later when I walked to the farm again. Again, out of the dozens of cows in the field, I felt a connection with a cow looking into her big brown eyes. I glanced at her ear and noticed that the tag said 53. Once the cows were in the barn, I went to speak with the farmer to see if I could help to feed the cows or clean, anything to be able to hang around longer. And I asked where I could find number 53. His response was “Number 53?, I think that cows name is Kathy. She is at the end of the next aisle”. I thought he was teasing me about her name, but I was only 13 years old and I didn’t know him well so I just thanked him and set off to find #53. And find her I did. She was at the end of the next aisle of cows, standing in her stall with a dry-erase board hanging above her head (as all the cows had). The board gave information about the animals – their tag number, their date of birth, milking information and their name. There, written on the board was “Kathy”. I remember thinking to myself that perhaps this farmer had told one of the farmhands to quickly run down to number 53’s stall and change her name from whatever it may have been to Kathy. It seemed like too much of a coincidence that I was so drawn to this particular cow, only to find out that she and I shared a name. That was my first real experience with having an instant connection with an animal. If it had been possible for me to keep a cow as a pet, I would have figured out a way to bring Kathy home with me.
Since then, with the exception of one animal who was given to me as a special gift from my husband, I’ve acquired all my pets by coming across them and just “knowing” I needed to have this particular animal. Not to say that I have had a great number of animals in my life, I haven’t. In my entire lifetime, I’ve had seven dogs, six cats and a few small birds. There wasn’t a lot of thought put into “should we get another dog” or “should we get a cat”. I just knew that I needed them. And even that cat who was a gift to me ended up being one of my greatest teachers.
The first pet I got as an adult (I was in college) was a stray that had been dropped off at the farm of my then-boyfriends’ sister. He was a little red tabby kitten who showed up one day (apparently this happens often at dairy farms – locals know that there are ‘barn cats’ so they drop off unwanted kittens). I saw him, hiding in a shrub in the front of the farmhouse and I decided I wanted him and would name him “Rusty”. And so I went and bought a litter box and food and took Rusty home to my college apartment, that didn’t allow animals. When I would visit my boyfriend on weekends, Rusty would ride in the car with me. He was that great cat that loved car rides because of our college days. Rusty would be our constant companion throughout college, and manage to travel across the country and back with us as we moved from place to place throughout the first few years of our marriage. Then when our daughter was born, Rusty would jump into her crib every time she woke up, and is in almost every picture we have of her as an infant.
This type of deep attachment repeated itself with our first two dogs, and a cat that followed.
After the first of those two dogs died, I was really depressed and missing him terribly. Blitz was the first animal I ever had that I had made the decision to euthanize – he had cancer, and it was very progressed and he was very much ready to move on from this life. Although I understood this, I was not prepared from the emotions that came with holding onto my dog that I loved so much while he took his last breath. After he passed, I told my husband I was done with animals. I couldn’t handle the heartbreak of losing them. I cried every day for months. One morning, about five months after Blitz died, I was standing at my kitchen sink staring into the backyard, crying. My husband came up to me and said “you’re a dog person, I really think you need to consider getting another dog”. I’m not sure why, on this day, I listened to him but I did. I went to my computer to do a search on shepherds and came across a breeder in upstate NY (near where he and I had grown up). I’m not sure what inspired me to call, but I did. Two days earlier, a litter of pups had been born and there was a boy pup who was available. I sent my deposit to them that day. Again, I knew this was the dog for me. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Eight weeks later, Angus joined our family. Angus was my ‘heart dog’ – he was the dog who I began my work in animal assisted interventions with, and he is the reason that I became an animal communicator.
The summer that Angus passed, I had contacted an animal communicator on the advice of a friend (I had never heard of ‘animal communication’ before then). I had an hour long session, and I learned so much in that hour not just about my animals, but about myself. It was amazing, to have a person who doesn’t know me or my dogs (not even their breeds) give me details about me and my personality (parts of which I show to no one), as well as characteristics about my dogs – their likes and dislikes, their behaviors, their personalities. But also about what my dogs were teaching and why. Mostly, she answered my question about Angus – she told me “he must be really old, but he told me he isn’t ready yet”. I had been thinking he might have been trying to tell me he was ready and I was choosing not listen. She told me what he wanted from me – spending time lying in the grass with just me. Not me and the kids, not me and the other dogs, just him and I. She told me that if I gave him what he wanted, it might help him to be ready to transition on and pass. And so we did. We had about six more weeks together that summer. One Sunday morning, my husband woke me up early and said “You need to go see Angus, he isn’t good”. He wasn’t walking, so my husband had carried him out into our backyard and then came back in to get me. I walked outside and saw Angus laying on the rocks near our pool. I would have been very uncomfortable sitting there, so I told Angus that I would go get a cushion to sit on. I ran onto the pool deck for the cushion while my husband went to get me some coffee. About 30 seconds later, my husband walked out with my coffee as I was returning with the chair cushion. Angus was laying on the grass, about 40 feet from where he had been. My husband questioned me about moving him from where he was originally laying. I told him I hadn’t moved him. He looked at me and said “Kathy, he can’t walk. How did he get there”? I told him I didn’t know, and I sat down with my dog. Pete looked at me and said “Remember the woman told you that he wanted to be on the grass with you?” I looked back at him and we both knew it was time. I felt blessed to have been given the opportunity to know what Angus wanted from me, and to feel confident that he had communicated with me what he wanted and needed from me. That day I lost my beloved Angus; and I gained a new awareness and deep understanding of the real nature of our relationships with animals.
When I first got on the phone that day with the animal communicator, she said to me “you didn’t need to call me to know, you already know”. Hearing her say that was life changing for me. She validated something I had always known, but didn’t always believe. Since that day I have dedicated myself to expanding and honing my intuitive skills. I’ve committed to many workshops, taken accredited courses, and gone on retreats to learn new skills and continue practicing the skills I already have. I have discovered I love being able to connect with a person and help them with questions they have about their animals. Whether the questions are big or small. Whether their pets are alive or passed. Lessons are always learned for the person with whom I am connecting; and in almost all cases, I too also learn something important on my journey.
By the way, last year I visited with the farmer’s son whose cow had such an impact on my life. I asked him the question that I had wanted to ask for about 35 years… I gave him no background info, I simply asked how they came up with names for the cows. He explained to me that when a calf is born, they fill out paperwork indicating the mother and father, along with the other vitals (date of birth, etc), and the cows name. This is then sent to the state within 14 days of the animals birth. And so the question I had for so long had been answered – they hadn’t played a trick on me. The cow I had been so drawn to that first day I went to the farm was indeed named Kathy.