Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review: Beyond the Homestretch, by Lynn Reardon

In 2008, more than 134,000 hapless horses of every age and breed were crammed into overcrowded trucks from various points in the U.S. to take a one-way ride to oblivion, via slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. The trend continued this year, though the final tally of equine lives lost in 2009 is not yet available.

The scope of the problem is daunting to anyone who loves horses and wants them to be treated with dignity, not put in harm's way. Yet what can one person do to make a dent in the carnage? In Beyond the Homestretch: What I've Learned from Saving Racehorses, Lynn Reardon has the answer. You do the only thing you can do: you save them one at a time.

Lynn experienced the horrors of the horse slaughter pipeline first-hand when she was living in the Washington, DC area, working as a finance manager and spending all of her free time learning how to become a proficient rider. It was during the early 2000s, when slaughter was still legal in the U.S. Attending an auction with Tina, a trainer seeking a horse for a client, Lynn happened upon an old paint mare, wedged into a pen with her son and several other horses:

     "Her face was incredibly sweet with large, dark eyes full of warmth and trusting cheerfulness. I halted, arrested by the humanity of her gaze. . .The mare took a couple steps closer to us, looking for attention, her gait clumsy. I looked at her ankles and a chill tightened my throat. Even my novice eyes could see the arthritis and large bony spurs around each joint. She could barely walk--a death sentence.

     Tina pulled me away, muttering, 'That mare's only heading one place and not for a lot of money. She's earned a better end than that.' I glanced at the mare again--her Da Vinci expression still haunts me today. A meat dealer bought her, a squat, sunburned man with eyes like concrete. That was the last auction I ever attended."

In chronicling her experiences as the fledgling founder of LOPE (LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers), which helps to find new careers for thoroughbreds whose racing days are over, Lynn vividly describes the physical and emotional challenges she's had to overcome to ensure that at least some of the horses retiring from Texas racetracks don't meet the same fate as the gentle mare she met so many years ago. And it's her gut-wrenching skill with words that makes us care so passionately about what happens to the ones who have been lucky enough to reach the safety of her ranch.

Many of the thoroughbreds who arrive at LOPE come with gossipy backstretch "rap sheets," suggesting that they are mean, or stubborn, or high-strung, or even untrainable. Lynn quietly smashes these stereotypes, in sometimes surprising ways. Her gift is to listen only to what she hears from each horse's heart, and to compassionately and creatively give them the space they need to shine.

My favorite (and perhaps Lynn's, too) is the aptly named, "Sugarfoot," an angel of a filly blessed with a "mellow disposition and willing attitude," but questionable conformation. Because of her sweet demeanor, Lynn was sure she'd find a new home quickly. But each prospective adopter found some reason to reject her, and it looked like Sugarfoot might take up permanent residence in Lynn's backyard. Everything changed on the day that a developmentally disabled young woman named Desiree arrived to meet her. Without ever having been trained to do so, Sugarfoot immediately understood how to take care of Desiree, and make sure she wouldn't lose her balance:

     "It was clear that Sugarfoot was protecting Desiree, that this little red filly with the funny build had a true, deep vocation to be a therapeutic riding horse. Awed, we watched as Desiree and Sugarfoot walked together, with Sugarfoot always listening, always careful to keep her steps slow for her special rider."

Along the way, Lynn has found herself unexpectedly but earnestly assisting at tracheotomies, treating rattlesnake bites, and constructing tricky hock bandages. She confronts her own doubts and deficiencies with self-deprecating humor and honest introspection, often coming across as her own harshest critic, always wondering whether she is up to the task:

     "I had developed an interesting skill set, like how to feed fifteen horses from my truck and the proper technique for tracheotomy assisting--but these were the badges of an equine social worker, not a true professional equestrian."

But Lynn Reardon doesn't have anything to apologize for. The herculean dedication required to sustain an equine rescue cannot be overstated, yet Lynn has carried each horse to the finish line with grace and equanimity. She's been instrumental in saving the lives of more than 700 thoroughbreds, and in Beyond the Homestretch, she's written a compelling memoir of her own redemption. I eagerly await the next chapter.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Talk with Lynn Reardon, Author of Beyond the Homestretch, during December 29th Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference will feature Lynn Reardon, who will discuss her recently published book, Beyond the Homestretch: What I've Learned from Saving Racehorses, on Tuesday, December 29th at 8:00pm EST.

Just six years ago, Lynn Reardon was working as a finance manager of a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, but in 2004, she left her white collar job and moved to Texas, where she founded LOPE (LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers), now a 26-acre haven for former thoroughbred runners.  In the intervening years, Lynn has successfully placed 145 thoroughbreds in adoptive homes, and, through the LOPE website, has helped almost 600 more find new careers.

Lynn's stories of the horses who found their way into her ranch, and into her heart, are honest, gutsy, and bubbling with the kinds of details that true horsemen will relish.  While her equine cameos are dramatic, they are never laced with sentimentality.  She paints a realistic--and compelling--picture of the challenges she's faced in transforming sometimes quirky racehorses who are often emotionally or physically battered and bruised.  At a time when 100,000 discarded horses are being shipped out of this country each year to be slaughtered in Canada and Mexico, Lynn shows us what can happen when someone cares enough to save even a few.

You can talk to Lynn (or just hear the interview) by dialing 712-432-0180 and entering PIN #1063739 at 8:00pm (EST) on December 29th.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: Buckley's Story, by Ingrid King

Just by being there, our cats exert a profound influence on our lives.  Yet so many of us fail to appreciate how much they care for and calm us, how necessary they are to our emotional equilibrium, and how integrally they contribute to our inner happiness. 

But Ingrid King knows.  And as she movingly details in Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher, her poignant memoir of her relationship with a little torti cat with a deformed hind leg and very few teeth, cats can lift us up and make us better for having known them.

Buckley's Story chronicles Ingrid's three-year journey of the heart with her two tortoiseshell girls:  Amber, a steadfast--almost spiritual--cat, and Buckley, an ageless waif whom she initially rescued to be her office companion at the veterinary practice she managed.  Soon, Buckley was running the place herself.

Ingrid started to find it increasingly difficult to leave Buckley at the office on weekends, but she was torn, because though she intuitively understood that Buckley longed to live in a real home, she wasn't sure that Amber would welcome another cat into their close-knit family.  She made two failed attempts to commingle the two cats, but admitted that her own conflicted emotions were interfering with  Amber and Buckley's ability to form a feline friendship.  Finally, though, when Ingrid decided to relinquish her position as the manager of the veterinary hospital to devote herself to writing and to developing her Reiki practice, she realized she couldn't leave Buckley behind.  And sure enough, within a few days, Amber and Buckley worked out their own ground rules, and peacefully shared the same space:

"Cats are sensitive to human emotions.  They often feel our stresses and worries before we acknowledge them.  When I worried about whether Amber and Buckley would ever get along, there was hissing and posturing.  When I finally let go of the fear and worry and simply focused on the desired outcome--all three of us living happily together--the cats' behavior changed."

And, in the process, Ingrid found herself changing, too.  The petite cat who she thought she had rescued was actually saving her:

"The process of bringing Buckley home, with all the emotional ups and downs it brought for me, is ultimately a testament to how much this little cat opened my heart. . .I was set in my ways. . .Buckley's exuberant energy and big heart required me to open myself to change."

As Ingrid plunged into her new careers, Buckley happily settled into her own new roles as "official greeter" and assistant Reiki practitioner:

"She would get up on the Reiki table and often curl up next to or on top of the client.  I realized after a few sessions like this that she intuitively knew where extra energy was needed."

But Buckley's bright light would be extinguished all too soon.  She developed a series of physical problems, which not only challenged her health but also tested Ingrid's ability as a healer.  Her experience at the veterinary practice armed her with the knowledge she needed to get Buckley the best available treatment, but it didn't prepare her to be able to cultivate a sunny outlook.  Only Buckley could do that:

"Buckley taught me how to stay in the moment and not get ahead of myself with worry.  Despite being in considerable pain prior to having her teeth removed, she never spent any time worrying about the upcoming surgery, anesthesia, or recovery. . .I had learned that I could help her more by focusing on her well-being rather than worrying about whether she was going to get better.  It was a constant process of redirecting my thoughts to something positive, whenever the old pattern of worry reared its ugly head."

As Buckley's condition deteriorated, I found myself tiptoeing through the chapters with a sense of foreboding and dread, though Ingrid infuses them with introspection, wisdom, and an unexpected twinge of optimism about her beloved cat's fate:

"We can choose which story we tell from moment to moment.  We can focus on what we want and tell the story the way we want it to be, or we can focus on what we don't want or don't like and tell the story the way it is. . .So rather than telling the story the way it  was--she had been diagnosed with a serious heart condition and had been given a poor prognosis--I choose to tell the story the way I wanted it to be:  she was a happy little cat who was enjoying her life to the fullest."

I felt some of the same emotions as I faced the death of my own dear cat, Casey, whose life on earth ended just two days before Buckley's, in November of 2008.  But I wish I had shown the same grace Ingrid did, as she readied herself to finally let Buckley go.  A year later, as I came to the end of Buckley's Story, I cried for Buckley, for Casey, and for myself.  But not for Ingrid King, who has written a heartfelt gem of a story that will resonate with me, and with anyone who reads it, for a long time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Review: Memoirs of the Bathtub Psychic, by Bethanne Elion

Call it intuition, psychic sensitivity, or just being "tuned in," Bethanne Elion had it. But, like so many of us, she renounced her innate ability to see more than meets the eye, to perceive what was going on energetically around her, and to heed forebodings when they arose, unbidden. The results were painful, and when it came to her beloved Newfoundland, Sophie, even tragic. Memoirs of the Bathtub Psychic is the saga of Bethanne's personal journey to find herself again, and in the process, become the person--the healer, the seer, the gifted empath--she was always meant to be.

As far back as she could remember, Bethanne had a magical connection with animals. "It seemed that the only time I felt at home with my gifts was when I was around animals," she admits. "I intuitively knew they had an understanding of my abilities. She could mentally hear what they were thinking, as clear as day. Fearing ridicule, however, she soon learned how to sabotage her psychic perceptions:

"By immersing myself in my classwork, with music on in the background,
having a few cocktails in the early evening, and leaving the television on

all night while I slept, I could keep the psychic side of me at bay. Noise
helped to stop the clairaudience. Drinking aided in suppressing clairvoyance.
Studying nonstop made it possible for me to avoid deep or meaningful contact
with others. That helped in keeping my soul from wandering off into other
people, animals, or lifetimes."

Bethanne's life changed forever on the day she drove from her home in California to a dog breeder in Oregon, to pick up a seven-week-old Newfoundland puppy, whom she named Sophie. When she brought her precious puppy to get her first shots, she intuitively sensed that something terrible was about to happen, but not trusting herself, she handed Sophie over for the injections. Her big black dog was never the same after that, and within two years, she was dead.

Bethanne subsequently adopted two more Newfies, Emma and Cubby, and when they, too, experienced a series of health problems, she went for help in a different direction. She implemented the nutritional recommendations offered in Wendy Volhard's The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog, learned everything she could about homeopathy, and her dogs improved. But when it was time for Emma to have a rabies booster, Bethanne faced it with dread, instinctively understanding that it would be the beginning of the end of Emma. Within weeks after the vaccination, Emma had developed cancerous tumors at the site of the injection. Bethanne knew that in order to save her dogs, and herself, something had to shift. She decided to move to Vermont.

It was in the quiet of rural Vermont that Bethanne began to allow herself to hear again, and to feel again, and it was there that she began to honor her psychic self by making energetic connections with animals in need. She discovered that she could home in on lost dogs and cats, vividly and accurately describing their whereabouts, but sometimes having to tell bereaved owners that their pets were not coming back. She soon learned to dread such cases.

Bethanne learned to ask permission from an animal before initiating a "conversation," and she came to understand how to distinguish the difference between "that which is symbolic and that which is real" in a telepathic interaction. She learned that some animals simply do not want to be found, and that sometimes, there is nothing that can be done to retrieve them.

Bethanne calls herself an "energy translator," explaining that she is simply a conduit for "information funneling in from the universe." What comes through most of all in this honest and sometimes searingly painful Memoir of the Bathtub Psychic is the author's absolute integrity as a searcher, as a selfless caretaker of her creature companions, and as a bona fide intuitive whose ego never gets in the way of the truth. Hers has been a jagged road, but one truly worth following.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Talk with Bethanne Elion, author of Memoirs of the Bathtub Psychic, during November 30th Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference will feature Intuitive Bethanne Elion, who will discuss her recently published book, Memoirs of the Bathtub Psychic: The True Story of a Clairvoyant and Her Dogs, on Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 8:00pm (EDT).  The call is free and all are invited to participate.

Bethanne Elion has been deeply involved in animal communication and holistic healing for many years.  She works as a nutrition consultant for private clients and for Volhard Nutrition, makers of natural diet and other whole health balancing products for dogs.  Bethanne has lived in Vermont since 1999, sharing her life with her beloved Newfoundlands, her Yellow Lab, and many feline friends.  Memoirs of the Bathtub Psychic is her first book.

As a truly gifted animal intuitive with an indepth knowledge of homeopathy and nutrition, Bethanne brings an important and often unconventional perspective to the subject of how we can best care for our creature companions.  Whether you're an animal lover, a would-be animal communicator, or just interested in learning how to protect and enhance your dog's health and longevity, you won't want to miss this opportunity to talk with her. 

You can participate in this month's "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference by dialing 616-347-8100 and entering PIN #1063739.  Long-distance charges may apply.  If you can't join us live, a recording of the interview will be posted here within a few days after the event.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Review: Energy Healing for Dogs, by Nicole Wilde

Nicole Wilde wants to empower you, by helping you to discover the energy flowing through your own hands. It's not magic, but many of us may feel intimidated at the idea that we can actually send energy to another being--human or animal--falsely believing that the ability to do so is owned by a privileged few natural-born healers.

In Energy Healing for Dogs: Using Hands-On Healing to Improve Canine Health and Behavior, Nicole deftly and clearly demonstrates that we are all blessed with the ability to sense, clear, and affect another's energy field, simply by tapping into time-tested techniques that are easily accessible to anyone who wants to learn them. And in spite of the fact that the title of her book suggests that you have to be touching a dog in order for it to work, Nicole explains that you can send energy across a room or even across a continent, to help dogs who are out of sync with their emotions, their bodies, their companions, or their surroundings:

"When a dog experiences energetic blockages or imbalances, he may become
stressed, anxious, depressed, irritable, or even fearful or aggressive. . .Although

energy healing is not a substitute for training or medical care, it can serve as an
excellent adjunct. When a being achieves a state of homeostasis--balance--the
result is better health, a sense of well-being, and better behavior. That applies
to both dogs and people. When we are balanced energetically, we feel healthy,
happy, and content, and are therefore likely to interact in positive ways with
those around us."

All living beings are made up of energy, and are surrounded by an electromagnetic field--sometimes called an aura--which vibrates at a certain frequency. When we--or our animals--are sick, or frightened, or angry, our energy field can contract, or mutate, or become murky, and that's when problems can ensue. So when we adopt a shelter dog who has been displaced from the only family it ever knew, and then been caged and bombarded by the sounds and smells of other fearful, barking dogs, it's no wonder that he may display behavioral problems. Until his energy field has been cleared and calmed, he may come across as sullen or unpredictable or just downright depressed.

For anyone who has faced these situations, Nicole's book is a godsend. She shows us how we can affect our dogs' health and happiness in ways we may never have imagined possible. She coaches would-be canine healers to let go of their expectations, hold an intention of the highest good for their dogs, and then to just let energy flow. We don't have to push it or pull it or make it go. We just have to let it happen.

There are terrific chapters on clearing a dog's energy field, using a technique similar to one known as "Magnetic Clearing" in Healing Touch for Animals, and on drawing pain and inflammation out of a dog's body by visualizing your palm as a strong magnet. And there are some very cool "Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments" you can try if you remain skeptical.

I loved Nicole's way of presenting a potentially complex topic with ease and simplicity. If you share your life with dogs, you'll want to read Energy Healing for Dogs and incorporate its techniques into your personal toolkit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Talk with Nicole Wilde, Author of Energy Healing for Dogs, during October 28th Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference will feature Nicole Wilde, who will discuss her book, Energy Healing for Dogs: Using Hands-On Healing to Improve Canine Health and Behavior, on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 8:00pm (EDT).  The call is free and all are invited to participate.

Nicole Wilde is a natural healer and Reiki Master, as well as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer who specializes in behavior issues.  A prolific writer, she is the athor of seven earlier books, including Help for Your Fearful Dog.  Nicole runs Gentle Guidance Dog Training in southern California, offers energy healing for pets, and assists rescue groups, shelters, and dogs in need.

In Energy Healing for Dogs, Nicole demystifies and simplifies the process of channeling energy for the benefit of our canine companions, and so effortlessly describes how to do it that even readers with no prior healing experience will feel empowered to try it with their own animals.

If you would like to learn how to use energy to heal your dog, you can join the "Conversations with Animal Authors" call by dialing 616-347-8100 and entering PIN #1063739.  Long-distance charges may apply.  For those who would like to hear the interview, but cannot participate live, a recording of the call will be posted here within a few days after the event.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Equine ER: Stories from Year in the Life of an Equine Veterinary Hospital, by Leslie Guttman

In Equine ER: Stories from a Year in the Life of an Equine Veterinary Hospital, Leslie Guttman was given an incredible opportunity. She has used it well. For one entire year, the Lexington, KY-based journalist had unprecedented, 24/7 access to the often tense--and always intense--workings of the prestigious Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, where veterinarians treat 11,000 horses each year, and attend to another 5000 during barn calls.

She made me feel like I was there, too.

Leslie's gift is in her ability to make the reader care passionately about what happens to the horses she chronicles, many of whom are in terrible trouble. You'll root for them to make it. And sometimes, miraculously, they do. But sometimes, in spite of sleepless nights and herculean efforts, and months of round-the-clock care, they don't.

I cheered when the feisty thoroughbred mare, Slewpy's Star, who was dying of pleuropneumonia, was brought back to life with the help of the experimental drug, SLO, and the expertise of Dr. Bonnie Barr. But I cried when the sweet, sweet Quarter Horse mare, Surely Awesome, eventually lost her battle, after shattering the long pastern bone of her right hind leg when she was 10 months pregnant, being expertly put back together by Dr. Alan Ruggles, and subsequently foaling and nursing a beautiful filly, nicknamed Sophie:

"So many stories in the horse world are about missed chances, or almost
making it--the colt that almost won the big race like his grand-sire. The
mare that had just about recovered from a difficult delivery but then
died of an infection. The thousands of shocked people in the stands right
after the Belmont: two minutes earlier they had thought Big Brown would
win the Triple Crown. It is this almostness that can drive you crazy, whether
you're in breeding, racing, training, owning, showing, healing.  Surely Awesome

had almost made it."

In each of the cases she profiles, Leslie deftly weaves information about cutting-edge veterinary medical initiatives into her gripping life-and-death accounts of horses whose fates are anything but certain. Most of the horses who arrive at the doors of the Rood & Riddle hospital are there because it offers their last, tentative chance at survival. Some, like the proud thoroughbred colt, Chelokee, leave the clinic in remarkably good shape, the beneficiary of the arthrodesis technique pioneered by the hospital's Dr. Larry Bramlage, and others, like the gallant Dutch Warmblood, Piaff, perish, a victim of the complications of EPM.

Yet Leslie writes with suspense, not sentimentality. She's a great storyteller, accurately capturing the clinical details of each case, but infusing them with so much more. You can feel the tension in an examining room, the achey "spent" feeling of the vets, interns, and techs who seem never to run out of gas, even after they've already put in a full shift and a horse's condition suddenly spirals out of control. And besides the dignity of the horses themselves, what also pours through these pages is the emotional investment made by the veterinarians and their staff in each patient. I honestly hadn't expected that.

The stories of the horses in Equine ER are compelling because, as Leslie writes:

"Throughout the year, I saw that people need horses more than horses
need people, whether it is an owner with the dream of the winner's
circle on Derby Day or someone with an illness or life setback who finds
strength and determination through the love of a horse or the example
of its courage. I came to see that horses save people more than the
other way around."

If you need horses, or care about them, you'll want to read Equine ER too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Talk with Leslie Guttman, Author of Equine ER, during September 29th Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference will feature Leslie Guttman, who will discuss her recently published book, Equine ER: Stories from a Year in the Life of an Equine Veterinary Hospital, during a free hour-long event on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 at 8:00pm (EDT).

Leslie Guttman is an independent journalist, freelance writer, and animal lover who spent a year on the ground and driving around with veterinarians at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington Kentucky, which she describes as "the Mayo Clinic of horse hospitals."

Leslie's intimate and often heart-wrenching observations of the life and death dramas that are played out at Rood & Riddle and at the Bluegrass farms attended by its practitioners make Equine ER a riveting read. I couldn't put it down, and I found myself in tears more than once as I poured through its pages.

I look forward to talking with Leslie about her experiences as a witness to the often super-human efforts put forth by Rood & Riddle veterinarians to save every kind of equine creature, both famous and and unheralded: foals who seemed doomed during difficult births, horses who sustained dire injuries in freak paddock accidents, racehorses who suffered catastrophic breakdowns on the track, and horses stricken by illnesses that put their lives in imminent danger.

If you would like to learn more about Equine ER, and hear first-hand what goes on behind the scenes of one of the top equine hospitals in the world, you can join the call by dialing 616-347-8100 and entering PIN #1063739. Long-distance charges may apply.

If you can't participate live, a recording of the interview will be posted on this site within a few days after the event.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Animal Reiki Handbook, by Kathleen Prasad and SARA Members

As the leading Animal Reiki educator in the country for the last several years, Kathleen Prasad is a silent but very powerful revolutionary in the field of holistic healing for animals. Her previous book, Animal Reiki: Using Energy to Heal the Animals in Your Life, co-written with Elizabeth Fulton, was the first to address this cutting-edge topic, and it remains the best.

Kathleen's latest mission is to support animal-loving Reiki practitioners who would like to ease the fear, stress, anxiety, grief, and sense of aloneness and helplessness that is experienced by dogs, cats, horses, and rabbits who, for various reasons, no longer have a home of their own, and are confined behind bars. Most are scarred; virtually all are scared.

With a scarcity of financial and human resources, shelters and sanctuaries are usually able to offer little more than kindness and the rudiments of physical sustenance to the creatures in their care. The animals' emotional and spiritual needs are mostly unmet.

Until now.

With other like-minded colleagues, Kathleen has founded the Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA), to not only teach an understanding of energy healing, but to provide a standardized approach to implementing professional Animal Reiki programs in shelters and sanctuaries, and to document the effects of this gentle intervention, not only on the animals themselves, but on the people who devote their days to caring for them.

The Animal Reiki Handbook: Finding Your Way With Reiki in Your Local Shelter, Sanctuary or Rescue, is the group's down-to-earth primer on how to introduce the practice of Reiki into a shelter environment, and what to expect from both the captive cats and dogs and the volunteers and staff, many of whom will be unfamiliar with Reiki, and even skeptical of the usefulness of this modality, whose benefits flow unseen.

According to The Animal Reiki Handbook, Reiki "can maintain health and well-being on the physical, mental and emotional levels, induce deep relaxation and stress relief, accelerate healing in sick or injured animals, or animals recovering from surgery, help reduce pain and inflammation, help reduce behavior problems and aggression, help animals heal from past mental/physical trauma, complement conventional and alternative therapies," and even "support the dying process."

And perhaps most intriguingly, it is the animals themselves who control the Reiki treatment process, "taking only the amount of energy they wish to receive."

The challenges of bringing Reiki into a shelter environment are formidable, and The Animal Reiki Handbook addresses them with realism and compassion. Not only are there noises and interruptions that require the practitioner to stay centered and calm, but there are aggressive dogs, terrified cats, and suspicious horses who may initially want no part of what they perceive as unwanted and even threatening intervention. And in certain shelters, there is always the possibility that the animal who is receiving a Reiki treatment today may be euthanized tomorrow.

The Animal Reiki Handbook deals with all of these situations with grace, and ultimately, with a gentle reminder to the practitioner that, "You are there to create a healing and harmonic energetic space, not only for the animals, but also for anyone and everyone who is within that space and open to healing." It is wonderful to contemplate how the quiet clarity of those called to work in shelters or sanctuaries as Animal Reiki volunteers will truly transform the lives of everyone within the range of their healing intent.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Talk with Animal Reiki Expert Kathleen Prasad during the August 31st "Conversations with Animal Authors" Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference will feature Kathleen Prasad of Animal Reiki Source, who will discuss her new book, The Animal Reiki Handbook: Finding Your Way with Reiki in Your Local Shelter, Sanctuary or Rescue, during a free hour-long call-in event on Monday, August 31st at 9:00pm (EDT).

Kathleen Prasad has been a full-time Animal Reiki teacher since 2002. In addition to The Animal Reiki Handbook, she is the co-author of Animal Reiki: Using Energy to Heal the Animals in Your Life, and has written many educational articles on animals and Reiki for holistic publications around the world. Kathleen's work has been featured in The Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Fair, The Whole Dog Journal, Dog Fancy, Animal Wellness Magazine, Equine Wellness Magazine, and Natural Horse Talk Magazine.

From my own experience as a student of Kathleen's I can attest to her compassion and effectiveness as a teacher of how Reiki can be used to help and heal animals who are experiencing pain, discomfort, stress, or illness, or who are approaching the end of their lives. Kathleen's quiet presence unfailingly radiates a feeling of peace to both animals and people.

If you would like to learn more about Animal Reiki, and about the Shelter Animal Reiki Association, you can join the call by dialing 616-347-8100 and entering PIN #1063739. Long-distance charges may apply. If you can't be on the call but would like to hear the interview, I'll be posting a link to the audio within a few days after the event.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Magic of Music for Pets, by Janet Marlow

It seems intuitive that music which sounds soothing to us, would also have the same effect on our animals. But is that true?

Well, yes and no, according to Janet Marlow's short primer, The Magic of Music for Pets: How to Use Music for the Well-Being of Dogs, Cats and Horses. Janet is an internationally known composer, with a special expertise in designing acoustically appropriate environments for dogs, cats, and horses. As she explains in The Magic of Music for Pets, "music for human listening does not guarantee behavioral calm and a soothing environment for animals."

This is true, in part, because dogs, cats, and horses (the animals most thoroughly studied by Ms. Marlow) are capable of hearing different frequencies than we are, and are most comfortable when sounds are within their optimal hearing ranges. Horses have a hearing range between 55 and 33,500 Hertz (Hz), which is similar to ours, while dogs (67 to 45,000 Hz) and cats (45 to 64,000 Hz) are capable of hearing sounds that are considerably higher.

So how can our knowledge of our animals' sound sensitivities help us to design music that will enhance their lives? It's here where Janet really excels, describing the process she used to create her CD series, Relaxation Music for My Pet and Me, and Relaxation Music for Horses: "When composing, I place the music in the register or octave range best suited to the animal. The final stage of the production is to digitally position the frequency range of the music directly in the middle of their hearing comfort zone to avoid any extremes that would cause an animal stress or make them flee from their resting place."

Based on my own observations of my Springer Spaniel, Tish, I can attest that Janet's techniques worked amazingly well in Relaxation Music for My Pet and Me (Volume 3). Within a few moments of my turning it on, Tish gravitated to the room where it was playing, and was soon fast asleep!

The earlier Relaxation Music for Dogs and Cats volumes apparently achieved the same results when Ms. Marlow tested them at veterinarians' offices, local shelters and rescues, grooming parlors, and private homes:

"I could see that dogs were resting within 5 to 7 minutes. Cats that were
out of view in the home came into the room with the music and curled up
to rest. . .Rescued dogs at the kennel diminished their anxious barking.
The recovery area at the veterinary hospital had a pleasant feel to it
and the staff commented to me that it helped them feel calm as well."

Similar effects were noticed when Janet played her Relaxation Music for Horses compositions at local stables. I found it fascinating that she modeled her equine music not on classical motifs but on country music, based on anecdotal reports from horse people who had noticed that their horses seemed to enjoy listening to Country Music stations when the radio was on in the barn.

Because the music in Janet Marlow's Relaxation series for animals has been composed and recorded with such care and awareness, it can be profoundly useful in easing the stress of separation anxiety, for example, or during thunderstorms, or for animals who fear getting into cars or trailers. These sensitively created CDs are a gift of peace for both animals and their people.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Talk with Janet Marlow, Author of The Magic of Music for Pets, during July 28th Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference will feature author and composer Janet Marlow, who will discuss her books, The Magic of Music for Pets: How to Use Music for the Well-Being of Dogs, Cats and Horses, and Zen Dog, during a free hour-long event on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 8:00pm (EDT).

Ms. Marlow is an internationally renowned composer, author, and authority on acoustic environments for dogs, cats, and horses. A recognized expert in the field of pet relaxation, she has appeared frequently on Animal Planet. She has studied the effects that jarring volumes and frequencies have on animals' mental, emotioal, and social behavior, ad has documented her results. Her series of CDs, Relaxation Music for My Pet and Me and Relaxation Music for Horses, have sold worldwide.

If you would like to learn more about how animals experience sound and how you can use music to enhance the quality of their lives and ease stress, you can join the "Conversations with Animal Authors" call by dialing 616-347-8100 on Tuesday, July 28th at 8:00pm, and entering PIN #1063739. Long-distance charges may apply.

I'll be posting a recording of the teleconference on this site, for those who can't participate live.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs, by Sharon Sakson

On a cold day in early April, 2003, I drove to Westchester Medical Center in New York to visit my sister, Janice, who was dying of liver failure. I didn't know that then, but I understood that she was gravely ill. Janice didn't have much of an appetite, and her memory was failing, and I can't remember everything we talked about during the last hours I spent at her bedside.

But one memory will never fade from my mind. It was when two smiling therapy dogs came into the room to bring some comfort to my sister. For those fleeting moments, Janice smiled and seemed to come out of her fog, even laughing with delight as one of the dogs jumped right up in bed with her, audaciously licking her face. Such is the power of dogs to bring joy into a person's life. And it is stories like these that Sharon Sakson has so eloquently told in her wonderful, life-affirming book, Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs.

Sharon chronicles the way in which dogs can literally save people's lives, whether they are recuperating from debilitating illnesses, suffering from undetected cancer, fighting unseen enemies in wartime combat, living with the ever-present threat of an epileptic seizure, wracked by unrelenting pain, plagued by plunging sugar levels from type II diabetes, or trying to live with dignity and independence while compromised by sight or hearing disabilities.

Ms. Sakson has an artful ability to grab her readers by telling them about one particular dog, and how he or she transformed the life of one individual person, all the while providing scrupulously researched sources and documentation to buttress some of the seemingly unbelievable successes of these remarkable canines.

Some of her stories are heartwarming, such as the one about "Mr. Gruffyd Babayan," an odd-looking, one-eyed Brussels Griffon who, as part of Westminster Kennel Club's Angel on a Leash program, makes weekly visits to Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan, in his role as an "Animal-Assisted Therapy Dog" to lend encouragement to children who have cancer, and heart failure and leukemia and broken bones. He's a particular favorite among physical therapists who have trouble getting their young patients to start walking again, after surgery. Mr. G.B. has an uncanny knack of being able to motivate children to get up and try to do what they think they can't do.

Other stories are groundbreaking, such as the fact that Bonnie Bergin at the Assistance Dog Institute (now The Bergin University of Canine Studies) figured out that dogs can actually be taught to read, in addition to the more than 90 verbal commands they can learn:

"For a person with a handicap, it could be useful to tell the dog, 'Exit,' and
have the dog look for and locate the appropriate sign, and then go there. The
same would be true for 'Restroom' or 'Park'. . .

So Bonnie wrote the words, 'Sit,' 'Down,' and 'Stay' on big sheets of paper,
and set out to teach her own dogs, Lexus and Keila, to read.

'It was straight classic conditioning,' Bonnie says. She showed Keila the Down' card, and asked her to lie down, and gave her a reward. Within one lesson, whenever she showed the word, Keila lay down. Lesson learned. Keila could read.

Using that method, she got the two dogs up to a 20-word vocabulary. An
unanticipated thing started to happen. The dogs started to learn new things
even better than they had before. They seemed to be able to conceptualize
and problem-solve, traits that would make them of even greater use when
placed with a person with a disability."

One of the most fascinating chapters in Paws & Effect is called, "If You're Sick, I'll Let You Know," in which Sharon tells the stories of dogs who seem to have a natural, uncanny ability to predict when a person is about to have a seizure, with near 100% accuracy. Ms. Sakson acknowledges that:

"How dogs detect an oncoming seizure in a human remains a mystery. Some
trainers and researchers think they detect subtle changes in their owners'
behavior or movements. Some think they can sense the 'aura' that precedes
a seizure. Or maybe they are aware that the brain waves of a person about
to seizure are substantially different from normal. But most researchers are
arriving at the opinioin that what is at work here is the dog's incredible power
of scent."

And there's growing evidence to show that dogs can actually be taught to recognize an impending seizure because the affected people give off a powerful smell that is undetectable to the human nose, but easily perceived by canines, who are believed to be able to detect scents 10,000 times better than a person, according to Dr. Jim Walker, head of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University. Trainers are now successfully attempting to harness this canine characteristic to educate dogs to detect not only epilepsy, but even ovarian and breast cancer, by sniffing the breath or urine of afflicted patients.

Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs is a great read if you're a dog lover, but it might be even more compelling if you're a skeptic about what dogs can do. Sharon Sakson has written a magical, inspiring set of stories that left me wishing for more.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Talk With Sharon Sakson, Author of Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs, during June 29th Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" event will feature Sharon Sakson, who will discuss her book, Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs, which was recently released in paperback, during a free-hour teleconference on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 5:30pm (EDT).

Ms. Sakson is a writer, journalist, television producer, Whippet and Brussels Griffon breeder, dog show judge, and Pet Life Examiner for Examiner.com. She is also a passionate dog lover and an intrepid investigator of the canine character and how dogs affect and change the lives of the people who love them.

If you'd like to learn more, or participate in the discussion, you can join the call by dialing 616-347-8100 and entering PIN #1063739. Long-distance charges may apply.

If you'd like to hear the interview, but can't participate live, a recording of the call will be posted on this site within a day o

Monday, May 25, 2009

Interview with Jenny Smedley, Author of Forever Faithful: Dogs That Return

Jenny Smedley is a well-known and highly regarded author, animal intuitive, past life consultant and angel communicator, based in the UK. In addition to Forever Faithful: Dogs That Return, she is the author of at least nine other published books, including Pets Have Souls Too, issued earlier this month by Hay House.

Jenny graciously agreed to respond to my questions about her intriguing book, Forever Faithful: Dogs That Return, reviewed here yesterday. She is pictured here with "Ace," the subject of that story.

Maureen: Jenny, your book Forever Faithful: Dogs That Return tells the wonderful story of how your dog Ace came back to you as “KC.”

Many of us have longed to have a beloved animal companion come back to us. Is there anything a person can do to encourage an animal to reincarnate, or is it entirely up to the animal’s spirit?

Jenny: I don’t honestly think you really have a choice – it seems to happen naturally with those animals you share a special bond with. However, I think what you can do is to enhance the bond. You can do this like it says in the book: by tuning in and making a special effort to feel your pet’s energy and to notice when they seem to be reflecting yours.

Maureen: In your case, you were definitely not looking for another dog when you found KC, but an amazing sequence of events led you to her. How can we attune ourselves to have an open heart, and an open mind, so that we will recognize opportunities to be reunited with our animal companions in new bodies? And how will we know for sure that it’s really the same animal, when we meet him or her?

Jenny: I think this kind of spiritual openness comes naturally when you develop in any area of spirituality, and there are many paths that lead you there.

The very first thing I would do is to learn to meditate, because this is the key to an open mind. You can do it alone, or with the aid of a CD, or in a class of like-minded people – whichever suits you best. Then practice as much as possible. On top of that, read books that you’re drawn to, whether they be about angels or past lives – whatever draws you. Play with crystals and possibly divination cards – anything that gets your spiritual side thinking and moving. If you do get a sign or a message, put skepticism aside, and see where it leads you.

Maureen: One of your interesting discoveries was that animals who reincarnate do not come back as mere clones of their prior selves. Their reincarnation is a progression of their soul’s journey, and as such, we need to recognize that while the “new” animal has the same spirit as the one we knew, his or her habits or temperament or knowledge may not be identical to that which was embodied in the “old” animal. Can you elaborate on your experience with this?

Jenny: Though underneath it’s the same soul, it will be in a new physical body, with all the limitations or special talents that body is capable of. There is also a possible change of breed or even species, so for instance if you have a cat that was once a dog, the cat characteristics will occasionally be a bit "dog-like," etc. Be open to that.

You’ll find also that sometimes the pet will seem to have total recall of their past life, and at other times their personality will show new traits. KC knew everything that Ace knew, and recognized the people Ace knew, but she also had a new puppy perspective on fun, and as she’d had a better start than Ace, she wasn’t so timid. Having said that, there are times when she is nervous of the same things Ace was, but with no current lifetime reason for this.

Maureen: You also learned that even though Ace’s spirit had been reincarnated in the body of KC, you could still communicate with Ace! That was a new concept for me, and I’m sure it will be new to many of your readers. Do you feel that you are still in touch with Ace, even though KC is here, with you on earth?

Jenny: Absolutely – she still comes to visit in spirit. This is because all of us, human or animal, leave our greater part in spirit all the time. Our human/dog/cat, etc. part is very small compared to the whole. I find it of great comfort because this means that you and your beloved pet are never really apart, because there is always a part of each in spirit to be reunited with, even if their physical self is on the earth-plane. Likewise babies and young children who die are never really alone without their parents in spirit.

Maureen: At the end of your story about Ace and KC, you talk a bit about how we can hone our telepathic connections with our animals, and you describe the channel we use to connect as communal energy, explaining that we are all connected to everything and everyone on the planet. How can we better develop our capacity to communicate with and enhance our ability to be energetically in tune with animals we know, and even those whom we don’t know?

Jenny: By recognizing that energy travels between us and our pets, and that we can’t hide our mood from our pets like we can with people.

Start by trying a bit of telepathy. Be in another room from your pets and mentally call them to you. You’ll know when it’s working, because obviously they’ll come. Then mentally ask your pets what they’d like to do and see if they send you an image of it. If you don’t know an animal, just sit quietly without looking at him or speaking to him, and project a very calm mood. If the animal adopts the same mood and perhaps comes closer and sits or nuzzles you quietly, you’ll know they have accepted your energy.

Maureen: I loved your discussion of the fact that dogs are reflective of their person’s mood, attitude, personality, and mental state of mind. So much so that you attribute many of the behavior problems we observe in dogs to imbalances in the people they live with. You say: “the more badly behaved a dog is, it means the more unhappy their owner is, deep inside.” Animal communicators are well aware of the extent to which animals can mirror what’s going on with their people. How can we help our animals by working on ourselves?

Jenny: Use your pet as a barometer. Observe their behaviour and then look inside yourself. Deep within, where perhaps even you couldn’t see them, you’ll find your inner feelings. Most of us, most of the time are like a swan, all serene on top but paddling like mad underneath. So, for instance if your pet is being hyper-active and apparently "naughty," try calming yourself, slow your breathing and physically relax. After a few minutes you’ll find your pet is resting quietly. This is always the right energy to project, so work on it.

Maureen: And finally, you mention that you and your husband gradually evolved away from eating meat, as you developed a deep awareness of the suffering endured by animals who are raised to be killed for food. My own path is quite similar to yours, in that I no longer eat meat, and the seeds of my choice not to do so were planted while I lived on a farm where lambs were routinely slaughtered each fall for food. Have you found that your honoring of animals’ souls by not ingesting their flesh has changed you energetically, or taken your ability to communicate with them to a higher level?

Jenny: That’s a very good point, and yes I would agree on both counts. I am feeling animal’s thoughts more, but it’s especially noticeable with injured wild animals. An injured bird for instance, if you pick it up, will normally view you as a hunter (forward facing eyes) and so will assume it has become your prey and often go into shock and die. I no longer have that problem. Wild birds that I find injured remain quite calm and bright-eyed when I handle them.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Forever Faithful: Dogs That Return

In Forever Faithful: Dogs That Return, author Jenny Smedley achieves something that many people would think to be impossible: she presents convincing evidence that dogs (and other animals) can come back into our lives after they have died, reincarnated in the bodies of other creatures who somehow manage to find us, so that we can resume our souls' journey together.

Even the most skeptical reader will have to admit that Ms. Smedley's story of her own experience with the death and rebirth of her beloved dog is built on more than just mere coincidence.

I was immediately sucked into Jenny's account of Ace, the mixed-breed black puppy who frantically escaped from a home in which she had been cruelly mistreated, on the day that her owner deliberately scalded her with steaming hot water. Of course, Jenny wasn't actually present as an observer of these events, but she intuited what had happened, from Ace's perspective, and the details feel just right.

After a few weeks of surviving on her wits, and on scraps from kind strangers, the injured puppy collapsed on a beach, where she was gently scooped up by a big-hearted woman named Maggie, who worked at the local Animal Rescue Centre. Having been physically restored by a month of recuperative care, the scarred and still-scared puppy was ultimately adopted by Jenny and her husband, Tony, who had recently lost their sweet dog, Snoopy. It was love at first sight.

"The pup and I locked eyes, and then, with no excitement or fuss at all, she left Maggie's side, and pulling the lead out to its full length, she walked to me, then turned around and sat down beside me, her shoulder against my leg. I was breathless. I felt tears welling in my eyes, and I could see them in Maggie's too. 'Well,' I said, smiling, 'that seems to be that.'"

They called the puppy, "Ace," and, because of the way in which she had instantly bonded with Jenny, they had to wonder whether Ace might actually be Snoopy. Whether that was true or not, Ace had a nobility of spirit and a way of connecting with people that made Jenny realize that she was truly an "advanced soul." Ace literally saved Jenny's life when an out-of-control ram was about to gorge her with his horns, and she miraculously survived a bout with a malignant mammary tumor, in spite of the veterinarian's dire prognosis.

When, after 15 years, Ace's body gave out, and her quality of life deteriorated, Jenny forced herself to make the decision we all dread: to gently cause Ace to leave her physical body with the help of an injection. Jenny was inconsolable for weeks thereafter.

"Some dogs are such a great part of our lives that their demise drops us into despair. I just didn't know how to cope with my loss. She'd been my best friend, an animal soul mate, and I couldn't face life without her. I felt guilty. I felt as though I had killed my darling Puppy, even though I knew that given a real choice I would never have taken that decision."

Some months later, Jenny and Tony went to Sedona, Arizona, where, on September 13th of that year, Jenny had a consultation with a clairvoyant named Claudia Coronado, who told her that she had a message from "your dog," describing a big black dog with white whiskers: Ace!

Claudia calmly told Jenny that the black dog wanted her to know that "you two are united through all time and space." And, stressing the importance of what she was about to share, Claudia relayed Ace's main message, "Today I am young again.

Jenny was appreciative of the fact that Ace had come through during the reading, but didn't realize the significance of her dogs words until many weekslater, after she had returned home, and found an ad in the paper for some Lab/Springer mix puppies.

She initially discarded the ad, but mysteriously, it popped up again on the coffee table several days later. Jenny decided to call to ask about the puppies, and was stunned to learn that they had been born on September 13th, which she instantly recognized as the day that the psychic had said that Ace was "young again." She knew then that she had to meet these black puppies, who had been born on a nearby farm.

When Jenny and Tony arrived, six of the seven puppies were wriggling and writhing and whining and rough-housing. But one was decidedly different:

"One puppy didn't do any of that. She sat, poised and elegant, to one side, quietly aloof and waiting for the melee to clear. When things calmed down, the farmer opened the french doors onto the garden and the swarm of pups shot outside like a black and white tide, for a play, but this one coal black puppy didn't follow them. She finally got up and walked over to me. We regarded each other. She was extremely quiet for a puppy. No jumping, no squeaking, just a calm regard. She clambered onto my knees and settled herself there. She gazed up into my face, making complete and unabased eye contact. Tony crouched down beside me and she casually flicked a paw onto his arm, as if to say, 'Hi, I've been waiting for you.' looking directly into his eyes just as easily as she had mine."

Jenny thought that the puppy's demeanor was rather remarkable, but it wasn't until the little dog rolled over on her back that she knew for sure what her heart had been trying to tell her. This puppy was missing a nipple, and it was the same one that Ace had lost when she'd had her mammary tumor excised. There could now be no doubt. Ace had returned!

The new puppy, named "KC," has taught Jenny that reincarnated animals are both the same, and yet distinctly different, from their previous selves, and she has also shared many other wondrous lessons about the nature of life, death, and the way in which a spirit endures and evolves.

If you have ever experienced the magic of a dear animal's reincarnation, or if you long to be reunited with one you have lost, Forever Faithful: Dogs That Return will provide solace, consolation, understanding, and most of all, hope.


My interview with Jenny Smedley will be published in this space tomorrow. Jenny's latest book, Pets Have Souls Too, has just been published by Hay House.

Monday, May 4, 2009

An Interview with Madeleine Walker, Author of An Exchange of Love

As part of my "Conversations with Animal Authors" series, I am pleased to publish this interview with British writer Madeleine Walker, who graciously answered my written questions about her practice of telepathic animal communication, as described in her book, An Exchange of Love: Animals Healing People in Past, Present and Future Lifetimes.

Madeleine is pictured here with the members of her "doggy team," "Winnie" and "Teazle" (the terrier), who help facilitate her workshops in the UK. This delightful photograph was taken by Madeleine's son, Cameron Walker.


Maureen: Your book, An Exchange of Love: Animals Healing People in Past, Present, and Future Lifetimes, takes the concept of “animal communication” to another level.

Can you briefly describe your own process for making a telepathic connection with an animal?

Madeleine: I always offer my services with complete love and respect and open a heart-to-heart connection mentally, sending those messages and building up trust between the animal and myself. I always "ask" how I can be of service to them and their human carers and for the best possible outcome.

Maureen: You demonstrate, in story after story, how you have been called in to help individual animals who were suffering from physical problems, or who were in emotional turmoil, and the most amazing things happen.

Instead of simply telling you where it hurts, the animals often show you that the origins of their distress lie with events and traumas that occurred in their past lives. In many cases, these animals have chosen to reunite with the people who shared these past-life traumas so they could be healed together, now, in this lifetime. These are remarkable stories.

You use a process called “soul retrieval” to heal the physical and emotional scars that had been inflicted in past lives, and to then integrate the healed “blueprint” of the animal back into his present-day self. Can you describe how you do this?

Madeleine: This is a technique taught to me by horses, where they showed me telepathically, what was required, by facilitating a visualization of a sort of holographic image of the traumatized animal, in its previous incarnation, but this time seeing it healed and whole and then physically blowing the image back into the physical body of the animal, after it has somehow passed through me. Horses have now shown me a whole new technique, where I can work on the human companion’s trauma, by rewriting their script, thanks to the animal’s input which I am really excited about!

Maureen: You say, “Animals so often displayed symptoms that appeared to need addressing, when the real reason for their treatment was to flag up an urgent problem in their owner’s life.”

An interesting case of this occurred with the formerly gentle yearling colt, Neville, who had suddenly and inexplicably started to threaten and nearly attack Graham, the person with whom he had previously enjoyed what you describe as a “cuddly” relationship.” When you asked Neville why he had changed his demeanor toward Graham, he told you to ask about Graham’s new job, and about his left leg.

Can you talk about the case of Neville and Graham, and how you worked to resolve it?

Madeleine: This was a fascinating case and most unexpected – especially for Graham, who was only there out of curiosity, as his wife was so worried about Neville’s antics! Poor Graham became the entire subject of the session as Neville orchestrated from his paddock and divulged the strange series of events that led us to understand the root of the problem, which was a negative energy attachment that Neville was trying to flag up.

Sometimes animals can appear vicious but they are not attacking the person, they are trying to attack the negative energy that may be around them. By alerting us to this we can remove it and all will be well! Neville kept shouting in my head that Graham had picked up a negative energy from his place of employment which he had just started--he even described what Graham was doing there which really freaked Graham out! He also asked me to ask Graham if he had been feeling anything strange in his leg, to which Graham said that he had been experiencing a strange tingling sensation that had started very soon after beginning his job.

Neville showed me a young boy who had been abused and Graham told me that in his place of work, children visited this lovely place for respite and adventure holidays. I felt that Graham had somehow attracted this energy, helping the boy, but it was then affecting his relationship with Neville. However, Neville somehow knew that by behaving this way, someone like me would be called and the energy would be removed by me shamanically and that healing could take place. I use my pendulum and visualize the pendulum "drawing" the negative energy off and then I cleanse the crystal pendulum in water which is carefully disposed of. Immediately, the tingling ceased and the next morning Neville was just as cuddly as ever, even though Graham was slightly puzzled by the proceedings. He was at least very happy to resume peaceful relations with the lovely horse!

Maureen: There are parts of your book that are difficult to read, in that they include vivid descriptions of the violent and brutal deaths that were suffered by animals—usually horses in battle situations—in their past lives. Yet you had to mentally “witness” this carnage and physical agony in order to heal the problem that the animal before you is experiencing.

You say that after being confronted with many of these violent visions, you had asked your guides why you were being shown such horror, and they told you that “horses hold the war consciousness for man.”

Can you talk a little more about this and perhaps help us to understand how we might recognize the effects of this trauma in our own horses, and help them to heal?

In particular, how we might be able to use positive visualizations to release the past-life trauma that may now be showing up in the form of a physical ailment or lameness?

You did this so effectively with the dapple grey mare, Wynn, who had energetic metal fragments of shrapnel that were stuck in her tissue’s cellular memory from a past-life battle, leading to problems with her hocks that had been unable to be fixed using conventional veterinary care.

Madeleine: This is a huge subject and difficult to write a concise answer to, but in a nutshell, I believe that horses have been used in our battles throughout millennia and I feel they are reincarnating again now with these symptoms, again to flag up lessons for mankind.

I have recently been working with elephants in India who have of course been used in battle for centuries as well and also carry this war consciousness and the need to heal this now for mankind and the planet. We need to realise NOW the damage that we are doing to our fellow man and the planet, which cannot continue.

The animals know this and I feel this is their most important message. I feel it is just opening our minds to be shown what a trauma might be emotionally or physically and being prepared that it might not be from this lifetime. If the images you invite from the horses are disturbing, just keep asking what needs to be healed and how it can be done--you will be shown the tools necessary. The animals will show you. Trust your guidance, however strange it may seem – like me having to visualize "picking" out the bits of shrapnel from Wynn’s backside! I then visualized filling each "wound" with healing salves and light: this seemed to really help with her soundness issues and she has made a remarkable recovery.

Maureen: During your healing work with animals, you have encountered malevolent energies and entities, and have learned how to prevent them from latching on to you and draining your positive energy. You talk about the importance of wrapping yourself in cloaks of protection or visualizing streams of white light surrounding you to shield yourself from taking on unwanted energies.

Can you describe any specific techniques you use to protect yourself, both during and after a healing session with a trouble animal?

Madeleine: I have some wonderful animal guides--namely two lions who help remove really nasty energies. Sometimes they will prevent me from doing it myself and will step in to work with the energy; I visualize them destroying and transmuting it.

I always visualize a negative energy being transmuted into a positive image once removed, as it would be very irresponsible to just leave it floating around in its dark form. I always invite protection for all concerned at the beginning of my day and invite a colour and shape to be wrapped within – sometimes a lilac orb or a golden flame –whatever the universe decides I need for my forthcoming cases.

I feel very protected and loved by this, and I always ask to work for the very highest good of all. I ground myself afterwards by placing my hands against the earth or walk in woods to connect to the trees who help me ground and remain focused. Drawing your expanded energies in a little can help from being on "alert" mode all the time so that you can preserve your energy and not get too drained.

Maureen: It’s not just people who can be affected by the sinister energies. You have worked with many animals whose disturbing behavior can be traced to their awareness of spirits lurking from deaths or trauma that previously took place in their home or on their property. You describe this in the case of Dudley, the Wheaten Terrier, who seemed to be in a “permanent state of anxiety” until you discerned that he was in torment from the negative energy lines traversing his property and from the spirits of animals who had died in a part of the house that had functioned as a butcher’s shop in the long-ago past.

In your experience, how can we protect ourselves and our animals from this type of negative predecessor energy?

Madeleine: I feel that it’s important to fill a home or environment with light. I use crystal bowls or drums or incense. These methods are not always appropriate in a stable, so I would check with a crystal pendulum, and then place crystals within--mainly rose quartz. If any energies are felt, then a pillar of light can be created to ask the "lost" energies to go to the light.

Maureen: You talk about the fact that you are assisted in your healing work by “power animals,” including two lions, and that you are guided by your dog, “Pillow,” who is now joyfully in spirit.

Do you have any advice to others who would like to be able to discern their own power animals or to connect with their deceased animals in spirit?

Madeleine: Just sit quietly, sending out your unconditional love to your animal friends in spirit-- maybe holding a photo--or just ask them to guide you and be open to their responses. Ask for help from the animal kingdom and just watch what happens. I have been helped by many different creatures, both in the physical, from cockroaches and flies, to etheric animals like hyenas, T Rex and unicorns! Just expect the unexpected!!

Maureen: You mention in An Exchange of Love that you are a vegetarian.

Were you always a vegetarian, or did you stop eating the meat of animals after you came to know them better through telepathy and your soul retrieval work? Do you feel that being a vegetarian enhances your intuitive abilities? And, do the animals intuit that you don’t eat meat, and do you think they are more trustful of you because they understand that?

Madeleine: I’m not sure the animals trust me because I don’t eat meat–I hope they trust me because of my loving intention. But of course I feel that I cannot eat the beings that are working so hard to heal us! And perhaps being very mindful of everything I eat vibrationally, helps me be clearer in my thought processes.

Maureen: You state that “Everyone who is open to the concept of telepathic communication can learn to communicate with every living thing on the planet—and possibly the spirits of those who have died too. It’s simply a question of remembering your long-buried skills. It only depends on how committed you are to deepening your connection to all that is.”

And then you issue a challenge: “How prepared are you to delve into yourself?”

Why is it necessary for us to delve into our own inner selves in order to make a meaningful telepathic connection with animals?

Madeleine: I feel, like with any healing work, we really have to work on ourselves to be as clear of baggage as possible, to be clear channels of healing and trust. We have to look at our issues and egos and make sure that we honour ourselves and all creatures with integrity and nonjudgmentalism. There is always work to do to learn more about ourselves--it is all about empowerment, both within ourselves and the animals that guide us so beautifully.

Friday, May 1, 2009

An Exchange of Love: Animals Healing People in Past, Present and Future Lifetimes

Madeleine Walker's An Exchange of Love pushes the boundaries of what it is possible to achieve through telepathic animal communication beyond what we might have ever imagined. There is no other way to say it.

As any animal communicator will tell you, it is the animals themselves who are our best teachers. Through her work with animals, initially as a communicator and ultimately as a holistic healer, Madeleine has been transformed by the animals she has worked with, and her trust in their messages, and in the messages of her spirit guides, has enabled her to accomplish many small miracles.

Ms. Walker's philosophy is deceptively simple. As she explains it:

"The words, 'an exchange of love,' represent the ability and willingness of one to

heal another. This form of communication works on many levels. First there is
the one-to-one link between myself and the animal on a physical and mental level.
All I feel at this point is a giving and receiving of overwhelming love. When trust is
established, even the most apparently aggressive and dangerous animal relaxes,
and the communication begins."

Among the challenging cases that Madeleine Walker chronicles in her heartfelt account is that of Shannon, a mare who had become anxious, unpredictable, and even dangerous. Though Shannon's person seemed to understand that her dear horse harbored no malicious intents, she had begun to despair because it had become virtually impossible to work around Shannon, let alone to ride her. As Madeleine began to communicate with her, Shannon revealed that the source of her agitation was to be found in many of her past lives, when she had been a victim of a predator or had been powerless to escape from some attack:

"She showed me a lifetime when she had been a dray horse in London during the

blitz. A bomb had fallen on the building where she had been stalled and she had
been hit and mortally injured by the fragments of metal, wood and stone. The
sense of helplessness and inability to escape was overwhelming. This seemed to
be a repeated pattern as she showed me many lifetimes of trauma."

To help animals like Shannon, whose present-day behavior belies trauma, injury, or terror suffered in previous incarnations, Madeleine has developed a technique whereby she processes the energetic "holograms" of the animals's past selves by allowing them to pass through her and then, after they have been transformed, she reintegrates them back into the animal. With Shannon, as with so many of Ms. Walker's animal clients, this unique form of "soul retrieval" has often successfully restored a sense of peace to formerly tormented animals.

For animals who have physical ailments which have stymied medical diagnosis or have not responded to conventional veterinary prescriptions, Madeleine conducts what she describes as "psychic surgery," whereby she uses "the power of the mind to move and change energy," a technique she has learned from the animals themselves. Using her intention, visualization, and her sincere desire to work for the highest good of her animal client, she creates "light crystals," which "do not exist as a physical reality," but which can be placed "within or around the body. . .depending on the specific needs of the client." They have achieved wondrous results on horses with inexplicable back pain and even on dogs such as Toby the Lab, who refused to walk on wooden floors until Madeleine placed a cushion of energetic crystals between the pads of his feet.

For aspiring animal communicators or for anyone who would like to enhance her connection with animals through the use of telepathy and intention, Ms. Walker has encouraging words:

"Everyone who is open to the concept of telepathic communication can learn to

communicate with every living thing on the planet--and possibly the spirits of
those who have died, too. It's simply a question of remembering our long-buried
skills. It only depends on how committed you are to deepening your connection
to all that is. . .Learning to listen is the first part; really hearing is the important bit."

An Exchange of Love is a collection of profound and moving stories, and best of all, they are all true. They will expand your understanding of what animals feel, sense, think, believe, and experience, and most poignantly, allow you to peer into the depths of animals' connections with their human companions, and of ours with them.