They Understand

They Understand

Over the years, I’ve spoken with many people who want to know the “secret” of communicating with their animals. They don’t seem to understand that they are already doing it: Their animals are hearing and understanding them; they are hearing and understanding their animals.

Granted, people who communicate with animals professionally can often hear deeper messages than people in the general public can. But that’s because the professionals get more practice than most other people and because the professionals believe what they are hearing and believe that the animals can hear what they are saying.

My first dramatic experience of this came many (many) years ago when I was living in San Francisco. One morning, I opened my front door to find the oddest looking puppy tied to the porch. (She grew up to be breathtakingly beautiful, by the way.) I didn’t need another dog, but I took her in. In those days, in that city, no one leashed their dogs. The dogs were all very civilized, very well behaved. We’d descend on the parks in droves, and our dogs would play in wild, joyful abandon.

The first time I took the little Shambalah for a walk, unleashed, she got up ahead of me a bit. She was approaching a street corner, and I, not wanting to frighten her into running across it, just calmly said, “Wait,” never expecting that she actually would. But she did. She was only a few months old, and had no training. She wasn’t even housebroken. But when I kindly asked her to wait, she did. That day and for the next 15 years.

A few weeks ago, I took on the care of an aged, neglected pony. I began him on what for him was an odd diet (a wonderful, healing diet; see Vita Royal on my Website for more information), which included a mash (not bran) and a liquid that helps to heal the gut (Nutrient Buffer). He wouldn’t eat the mash with the Nutrient Buffer in it, so I had to dose this liquid with a syringe before each meal.

He never fought me, but he wouldn’t let me easily tip his head back, either. One evening, I realized I was straining my arm and my back doing this. Caring for him was very labor intensive—playing with different consistencies of the mash, so he would eat it rather than either kick it over (too wet) or store it in his cheeks for hours (too sticky); bathing his crusty eyes each morning with calendula; picking his thrushy feet and spraying them with apple cider vinegar. Sharing the huge amounts of Reiki he kept asking for. Well, that part was fun.

Actually, it was all fun and very rewarding, but that evening, I was cold, and my arm and back hurt, and he had his head in lock-down position when I wanted to dose his Nutrient Buffer. I tried once. Ouch. Then I looked him right in the eye and said, “Look, mister. I don’t have time for this. You need to take this stuff twice a day for three weeks before you eat. Then we’re done with it. I’m doing my best to take care of you and make you feel better. So give me a break.” I did not shout, but I spoke loudly. I was not angry, but I was extremely irritated, and I let him know it.

I swear to you that pony relaxed his neck and allowed me to easily dose the liquid, no strain to my arm or back. And it hasn’t been a problem in the two weeks since that night.

Evenings, I’ve been putting my gelding, Fuersti, and my mare, Tara, into the arena with Davey so they can get used to each other. Eventually, I’m going to put Davey out with them, but he’s too fragile right now. My two are young and feisty. As of this writing, their paddocks and track (a kind of circular dry lot around the four-acre pasture) are too muddy for the old guy to safely navigate (since he’s used to being alone on grass), and I don’t want him to get hurt.

The first few times they were all together, Davey—who has lived alone for the past 10 years—would run into a corner of the arena every time my Fuersti would approach him. I was surprised. I’d seen them groom each other over a gate, but face-to-face Davey acted like a scared rabbit. As the days went by, Davey got more and more brave, standing about 10 feet from Fuersti, who was nibbling hay. Then he began to allow Fuersti to gently move him around the arena without running into a corner. My mare, Tara, Ignored Davey completely.

One night, after about a week of this. I heard a ruckus in the arena and went to see what was going on. Fuersti was chasing Davey around the arena—no problem there—but Fuersti’s his ears were laid back (not quite pinned), and he was getting ready to take a good-sized bite. This was just horseplay. I know my Fuersti. He’s a kind an gentle soul, but he likes to play hard.

But to my mind this was a bit too hard in such a small space. Davey was having trouble making the tight turns. Out in a field, OK, but not in here.

Just as Fuersti was opening his mouth to grab flesh, I poked my head over the gate and said loudly, “Hey, HEY, HEY!” I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn’t expecting Fuersti to stop dead in his tracks, whirl around, and face me. “What?” he seemed to be asking.

Quietly, still on the other side of the gate, I said, “Fuersti. That’s too much. Take it easy.” And that was that. He hasn’t done it again in the weeks since.

Do animals understand English? Sure, they understand some words. I’ve recently heard that scientists have discovered that dogs can recognize several hundred words. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. In writing these stories today, I realized that in each case, I spoke to my animal friends the same way I would speak to a human: honestly, clearly, respectfully.

That’s how I’ve always been with my animals. Most of the time. The handful of times I’ve allowed myself to become angry, I never get the results I want. My little Elika dog absolutely refuses to come to me if I have anger in my voice; she sits and stares at me. My horses ignore me.

But if I address them with honesty, clarity, and respect, they always seem to understand what my heart is saying to them.

Give it a try. And if you’re up to it, drop me an email and let me know what happens.

Until next time . . .

Be well,


P.S. I have begun a Facebook group called Healing is Possible. All are welcome to join to share stories about healing (and they don’t need to be about Reiki). I hope to see you there.

*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in October, 2009.

© 2010 by Pamela Sourelis