All Glamour All the Time

What's up at Locket's Meadow Farm

Saying Goodbye to Sue September 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathleen @ 8:45 pm

Sue’s Eulogy, for those who could not be there . . .

Sue's rainbow as we exited the wake

The Wizard of Oz once said to the Tin Man, “As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”

The Tin Man had taken a long and treacherous trip down the Yellow Brick Road only to be told his fondest desire was going to cause him a lot of heartache. Which we all understand, as everyone present today has, at one point or another, walked the Yellow Brick Road of Life with the very special Susan Ives.

There are so many things about Sue that we will carry forever in our hearts. She always thought the best of everyone and worked hard to see things from their point of view . . .  right up until they proved her wrong, of course. She may have laughingly called herself Silly Sue, but she was wise enough to understand who she should spend her time with and whom she shouldn’t.

Sue always made everyone feel comfortable in her presence, and thought more about other’s feelings than her own. Even as she was dying, most of her fading strength was focused on making sure the people around her were at ease with what was happening. Sue was fine with impending death, and looked forward to being with friends and family who had crossed over before her. She often told us not to worry, she’d be right there, working hard for all of us from the other side. And we know this it true, because Sue always kept her promises; we have a dedicated heavenly advocate watching over our shoulders every moment of every day.

Sue’s obsession with making sure people were comfortable even extended to this eulogy . . . she requested it be kept short so no one would become uncomfortable sitting in the wooden pews for too long. Most of us, however, would probably agree if anyone deserves a long and splendid tribute, it’s Sue, and since she’s unable to tell us to stop making a fuss over her at this precise moment, we’re going to make sure we all leave here satisfied with these memories of her.

We’ll start with the ruby slippers. Over Sue’s hospital door hung a pair of ruby slippers, reminding staff that Sue was at risk of falling. This wasn’t news to any of us, as over the past 25 years or so we’d all seen her walking around on crutches more times than we could count. The hospital falls were different, however, as it wasn’t just Sue being klutzy – it was Sue trying to hold onto her last bit of independence and do things for herself. Heaven forbid she be a bother to anyone, especially for something as mundane as getting to the bathroom.

As the cancer progressed for Sue, the attack on her bucket list reached fever pitch. While Hawaii was out of reach, Bermuda beckoned and Sue packed up her shorts and wheel chair for the vacation of a lifetime with her family.

When the Red Sox were playing, she was there as often as possible. Her daughter Jamie remembers what they refer to as “The ULTIMATE trip to Boston.”

“She had a 5 star hotel with down comforters and pillows in a room literally next to the elevator.
The Red Sox won AND Big Papi hit a home run (which Tom bet a dinner at Papi’s restaurant if Ortiz came through). Then there was room service breakfast. And giving Jamie a heart attack when she put Sue on the elevator, said “push the door open button”, then turned to get the luggage on said elevator and turned back only to see the doors close and hear mom’s fading voice say, “I’m sor..r…y………”

And then the life-long wait for her duck tour was over. She had an ear to ear grin the entire venture and Jamie occasionally pretended to look at scenery because her eyes were welling up to see her mom so happy.

Sue even managed to sit in a car for a six hour trip to Virginia. She didn’t necessarily get to see a baby alpaca be born, but she got to hold a 4 day old cria on her lap, and it was a beautiful picture.

When looking back through her high school yearbook, Jamie noticed that her mom had crushes on nearly half the boys in her class. Right up to the end she would turn back into an awkward teenager when reminiscing. Sue was around 60 when she met the movie star Keir Dullea for the first time, and even though she’d had a week to get used to the idea of meeting her teen crush from the movie David and Lisa, her hands shook, her knees knocked and her voice trembled. She actually had to sit down and compose herself afterwards, yet she smiled for weeks afterwards and treasured the moment.

Sue’s life revolved around those she loved so beautifully and well – her children, her family, her friends and her animals. She was always at her children’s sporting events, drama productions and band performances. She often became assistant coach or stage manager, never turning down an opportunity to be involved in their lives. Sue was the ultimate cheerleader.

She took in a pair of unwanted cats, one of which turned out to be diabetic, and scheduled her life around his injections. She adopted a PMU colt that was destined for slaughter and obsessed over his soft hooves and sore back. She purchased an alpaca that she kept in VA with her brother Chuck and Sister-in-law Sue, visiting every year and making a fuss over Miss Wise’s babies. Sue was the superlative mother to all.

Lori Warner sent this Sue Story in an email to Jamie:

Your mom taught me through her actions that all children need to be protected as if they were our own, and often put herself in an uncomfortable situation so I could be spared embarrassment or discomfort. She really listened when I talked and I knew whatever I said was safe.
I would babysit for you and one day you were in a bad mood and your mom said, “It’s okay of you don’t give me one now, but sometime today I need a hug.” You went upstairs, but 15 minutes later you came back down and silently walked over and hugged your mom for a long time. Then without a word you went back upstairs with your shoulders a little lighter. Sue explained that she never wanted you to do something you didn’t feel, but she had told you what she needed. When you felt it was the right time, you’d hug her because you wanted to, and then she was happy.

Sue made me see that the best mothering is based on intuition, communication, and knowing your audience!

She taught me that simple things are sometimes the most meaningful, that casual conversations and treating people with respect, no matter their age, can make a huge difference in someone’s life. This is how she taught me how to be the mom I wanted to be.

Kathleen Schurman remembers when Sue met her horse, Bart, for the first time. Life had taken a difficult turn for Sue, and she was very depressed. It took several months to convince her to come to the farm to see the first three of what would become many rescued horses. Sue finally agreed to visit on her mother’s birthday, and when she first laid eyes on Bart, she began to cry and said, “If only I could have that horse, I know I would be happy again.”

Kathleen looked at her and said, “If that’s all it’ll take, then he’s yours!” And thus began the greatest love affair of our Sue’s life as she was never as happy as when she was when with the pony she had wished for since she was a child.

Sue grew weaker ever day, but Jamie remembers those days when her mom could get to the farm to see her “boy.”

“Nothing compared to the smile she had when around Bart. Their first reunion was in late February. It was the first time she’d seen him since October of 2009. Bart sniffed and snorted with happiness, then removed his mom’s hat and was startled by her “Darth Vader” appearance, but he rubbed his muzzle over her head and realized she was the same handicapped woman who loved him unconditionally. Just without hair.
The second visit – same huge grin!
The third and last visit, now wheelchair bound, was the biggest grin ever. It even surpassed the duck tour grin!”

It was only a few weeks later that Sue checked off the last item on her bucket list, a visit from a special relative, and said, “I can go now.” She tapped the heels of her ruby slippers together one last time and said, “There’s no place like home.”

The Tin Man looked on, oil can at the ready, and said, “Now I know I have a heart, ’cause it’s breaking . . .”
In the end, her spirit remains. Which one of us hasn’t felt her lurking over our shoulder in these past few days since she left us?

We imagine that soon after crossing to the other side, aside from a visit to her beloved Bart, who would have been her first visit after embracing Jason and her parents, she managed to get in a trip to Hawaii and Ireland, the two “misses” on her bucket list.

In the past months Sue managed to orchestrate quite an elaborate funeral production. Every single thing she wanted- the Calvary tribute, the flowers, donations and the songs were all hand-picked by her. Even the things Jamie wasn’t sure could be accomplished, such as the writing of this eulogy by one of her best friends to the musicians and even a freak weather event like Hurricane Earl and a gigantic rainbow last night as people began to exit her wake. . . all lined up with little effort. Sue could not have made a more grand exit.

And if anyone deserves to make it to the Emerald City in such fine style, driven in a cart pulled by the Horse of a Different Color, it’s our Sue.

 

Desperate last-minute horse rescue attempt thwarted August 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathleen @ 2:54 pm

This little mini mare is going to slaughter. FOR WHAT??????

Early this morning a small group of people lined up, checkbooks in hand, desperate to rescue 60 horses crammed into a small kill pen on the Tennessee/Kentucky border. Despite days of pleading with the owner, half the horses were loaded into a stock trailer bound for a Canada slaughter house, while the other half awaits a similar fate tomorrow morning.

The herd includes thoroughbreds from the racetracks, quarterhorses from family back yards, and even a brown and white paint mini, hardly worth turning into steak for the foreign meat market. Most of these horses are young, healthy and broke to ride, but that won’t save their lives.

I own a small horse rescue in Bethany, Connecticut, where I have 10 horses rescued from this same kill pen. We brought them to Locket’s Meadow Farm about a month ago, and have been rehabilitating them to be used in our lesson program or adopted out. As of this week, the kill pen owner has decided to no longer allow us, or anyone else, to rescue these horses from death and refuses to let us purchase them at the usual price, which is just over the per-pound rate the slaughter buyer pays.

The situation for equines in this country has never been more dire as more and more people are devastated by the economy and forced to get rid of their horses. Since there is no market to sell them, they send them to auction hoping they are going to a good home, but instead, they are bought in large lots and sent to kill pens and then on to the slaughter houses in Canada and Mexico. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

For some horses, there is no hope; but for the ones in Kentucky, there are people ready and waiting to get them out and give them a new life. Can you please, please look into this and possibly help save the rest? The nation needs to know what is happening right under their noses, and people who give up their beloved horses should understand the fate of their pets if they can’t find a better option than auction.

I have attached links to some stories done locally about these rescues. We have tried everything, the only option we have left is to let the country know what is happening and hope they are as outraged as we are. Thank you for anything you can do.

Shantal Bordeaux Rosales has been coordinating the rescue attempts from her nearby home in Westmoreland, Tennessee. Her phone is 615-427-1505, but she is hard to reach today due to the drama.

PLEASE SEE:

http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/new_haven_cty/Bethany-horses-tagged-for-slaughter-rescued

http://www.newhavenregister.com/articles/2010/08/10/aa1horses081010.txt

Sincerely,

Kathleen M. Schurman
Locket’s Meadow Farm
755 Litchfield Turnpike
Bethany, CT 06524

locketsmeadowfarm@yahoo.com
http://www.locketsmeadowfarm.com

 

Charity vs. Greed vs. Ethics . . . or lack thereof – how DO we save the horses? August 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathleen @ 4:05 pm

I rescued two pregnant mares last week for $400 each. This one is now $550. Do we know when we are being GOUGED? So repulsive of this kill pen owner . . .

A few years back we rescued a dozen horses from a North Dakota PMU ranch that had recently been dropped by the Premarin industry. The rancher’s family had raised horses for several generations and had started supplying urine to Wyeth Ayers maybe a decade earlier, investing in huge pee barns (don’t ask, you don’t want to know right now) and taking out big loans to make their facility current with North American Equine Rancher Association (NAERA) codes. Then they dropped them and the rancher was stuck with a lot of debt, little income and a mess of pregnant mares. We helped them out the first year, and assumed they would sell their horses off and get out of the business.

The next year, the rancher called and asked if we wanted any more of his horses as he’d bred them all again. About a hundred of them. I was appalled, and replied that we would not help him, please stop breeding, for God’s sake, there’s no market for all those babies. He said he was behind on his loans and he’d have to sell them for slaughter. I felt sorry for the horses, but I was not going to help someone who did not help himself. Months later I found out he had contacted a California rescue and convinced them to help place his horses, and every year since, he tells them the same story – help place them or he’ll send them to slaughter.

It’s easy to coerce us, because as a group, we bleeding heart animal rescuers can’t stand NOT to save the lives of these animals. BUT, in allowing ourselves to be held over a barrel and forced to become the bread and butter of breeders who don’t know when to quit (the market for foals was drying up long before the economy tanked since there are just way too many of them) we are aiding and abetting crimes perpetrated by lazy and manipulative jerks.

Last week we rescued a batch of horses from a kill pen in Tennessee. We all busted our butts to raise the funds to get them out before they shipped. In the end, there were only six horses left, not enough to make it worth sending them to the slaughter house in Canada. Somehow, this pissed off the owner of the pen, and he decided to raise the prices for the bleeding-heart-animal lovers, so horses that cost $300 to get out last week (slightly higher than the per-pound rate for the slaughter house) now cost $600. When you add in shipping, there is little hope of rescuing these beautiful animals from death, and at the end of next week he’ll sell them for the usual per-pound amount to the killer buyers.

All right everyone, raise your voices . . . can we all shout “scumbag” at the top of our lungs? And there is nothing we can do about it, except, perhaps, NOT rescue these poor horses (how bad will we feel then?) so that this creep understands we can’t be forced to our knees in the name of compassion and kindness for helpless creatures in distress. But what will it really matter to him as he will get his money anyways from the killer buyers?

 Does this make your head spin? It makes me nauseous . . .

I’m not sure what anyone can do about this. Pressuring this guy won’t matter, he’ll “punish” us by not letting us save these poor horses. If we keep paying these amounts to rescue them, there’s a good chance he’ll raise the prices even more, assuming we’re all stupid enough to pay anything to save a horse from death. The sad thing is, we can’t. It’s not only wrong to play this guy’s game, it’s unethical to allow a greedy dirt bag to grow wealthy because we care. It feeds the cycle in kinda the same way buying puppies from puppy mills perpetuates the suffering of hundreds of thousands of dogs, even though we feel we are saving a mill puppy (by paying full price for it in a pet shop, of course!)

 The only hope for the horses of this continent is for us to start an all-out campaign to stop the over breeding of every kind of horse, in the same way activists have worked so hard to do the same for cats and dogs. The difference here is that while most people put horses in the same category of sentimental value as a cat or dog, they don’t meet the same end as our smaller house pets, whose lives end with a humane injection and a pain free death. Feel free to Google how horses are slaughtered, and watch the videos if you like, but it’s not my cup of tea. Just know from the time they are packed into filthy kill pens, then stuffed into trucks and shipped four thousand miles with no food or water, then packed into slaughter yards, terrified and most often very ill . . . well, you get the drift . . .

And it’s all because there are way too many horses. WAY TOO MANY HORSES. The answer is not slaughter. The answer is education. It will takes decades to fix it, but we need to start now. Meanwhile, we are left with an age-old problem that I don’t know the answer to . . . greed. Anyone have any idea how to address that? Because I’m at a loss . . .

 

All Romance All the Time, or “I’ve got sequins in my muck boots” June 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathleen @ 3:55 pm

My boots at around 3pm yesterday

For the past few years I’ve spend the majority of my days up to my ankles (sometimes knees, depending on rainfall) in “glamour” aka “manure/mud/muck/slime,” etc. And I’m cool with it – it’s just another one of the perks that comes with having over a hundred animals. However, you do start to forget that there’s a whole other world out there, one filled with clean people who take a shower in the morning, “do” their hair and makeup and would never consider leaving the house without a spritz of their favorite perfume.

When you have a farm full of rescue animals, you don’t even think about perfume or any other luxuries except along the lines of, “A hundred bucks for this tiny vial of perfume! I could buy seven bags of feed for that much money!” or, “Six bucks for mascara? That’s six days worth of hyleronic acid for Captain’s achy fetlock! I can’t justify that!” and “Thirty bucks for a new pair of jeans? But I could feed my cats for a week with thirty bucks!” (Have I mentioned I’m a cat-lady-in-training?)

I’ve talked myself out of buying such trivial items as a new paint brush ($3) or nail file (pennies) using this logic. So, you can imagine my reaction last week when my husband texted me this message:

 “We’re invited to the Starlight Ball honoring Julie Andrews, with the Live Miracles, Martha and the Vendellas and Junior Walker. Only $450 each. LU!”

First, I laughed. He couldn’t be serious; it had to be a joke. I read it again and didn’t see even a hint of sarcasm. I sat down at my desk in the tack room and reread it. Nope! No sarcasm that I could see. I propped my glamour-covered boots up on my desk and responded.

“Did you fall and hit your head? Are you bleeding from the ears? ARE YOU CRAZY!?”

$900 to go to a ball. No, more than that. I’d need a dress ($500) shoes ($150 – I have huge feet, so I never find them on sale) hair highlighted ($150 – I have a lot of hair) mani-pedi (a steal at $30!) and if I can’t locate my Spanx undergarments, another $60 to replace that (never go to a ball without your Spanx – saves having to suck in your tummy all evening long!) Then, since the event is out on Long Island, we’d have to spend the night. That meant not only paying for a room, but hiring someone to take care of the farm for two days. When all is said and done, we’re talking a $2,000 evening out.

What does $2,000 mean to me? Two weeks worth of hay. One month of grain. One month of horse shoeing. Four months of vet bills.  Six dumpsters worth of manure removal. Processing this year’s fleeces from all the sheep and alpacas. And then there are the “luxury” items, like . . . $2,000 will buy enough lumber for a run-in shed, enough fencing materials for two paddocks, and half the footing for a new outdoor arena. Two grand will also rescue one and a half horses from slaughter (that doesn’t sound quite kosher, but that’s just the way the numbers fall . . .) and buy four new saddles for the therapeutic riding program.

I ran the numbers in my head, and it all made sense to skip the ball, but . . . I kept envisioning Julie Andrews, one of my childhood idols, and could clearly see the Mary Poppins doll I got for Christmas when I was three. “Practically perfect in every way . . .” How I love Julie Andrews . . . And I thought about how I haven’t worn shoes that weren’t work boots in a long, long time. I closed my eyes and imagined wearing an evening dress, heels, mascara, Spanx . . . dancing the night away . . . and was rudely awakened from my fantasy by the sound of Captain slamming his foot against his stall door. Apparently, I was running late tacking him for our morning ride.

I stood up and went out to the barn aisle.

“Did you fall and hit your head?” Captain snorted at me from his stall. “Are you bleeding from the ears? ARE YOU CRAZY? A ball . . .  next you’ll be wishing for a fairy godmother!”               

“Oh, leave me alone,” I said and slipped his halter over his ears. “I can dream.”

“Snort!”

“Yeah,” I said, “I can dream that I can get through an entire ride on you without having to sit to a 40 foot spook . . . for a change. How about I have that fantasy, huh?”

“Snort!”

“Yeah, I thought so!” I mumbled and started picking the “glamour” out of Captain’s feet.

My phone buzzed and I looked at the text from my husband.

“Can you call Richie? [Our hay guy] I see he called me. I’m really busy here. And Cajun drank a whole bucket of water last night, I gave him more electrolytes this morning. You were right, Ragano didn’t really have to pee in the middle of the night, he just wanted to eat more cat food. LU.”

Yes, it’s All Glamour All the Time here at Locket’s Meadow. And Romance. We’re real high on the romance scale, as well.

Instead of the Starlight Ball I think we’ll go into New Haven and hit a noodle shop for dinner ($16, equivalent of a fifty pound bag of carrots for the pigs.) Afterwards, we’ll walk around downtown holding hands for a while, look at clothes in the shop windows that we can’t justify buying, then go home and snuggle on the sofa with all four dogs and a half-dozen of our 11 cats. It will be a perfectly lovely evening . . . maybe we’ll even watch Mary Poppins . . .

 

“The time has come, the walrus said . . .” (thanks Tara! Be safe!) June 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathleen @ 1:14 pm

My daughter Bo was often sick when she was a child, to the point of being on intravenous antibiotics for osteomyalitis for a month. This meant lots and lots of needles, but she was a brave child, and she squeezed her eyes tightly closed and chanted, “If I can’t see it, it won’t hurt me.” This is an excellent strategy for a child, but for an adult . . . not so much.

Kirk Varner at WTNH just published an online editorial about where the TV station stands on showing pictures of what is happening to the animals in the Gulf as a result of the oil spill. Apparently, people are complaining about being forced to actually see these images as they are very disturbing. Believe me, I have to avert my eyes, as well. Varner, however, says in his piece, “. . . there is nothing about this situation that should be ignored or left on the editing room floor.” And I agree.

As human beings, we outdo the ostrich, burying our heads in the sand about things that disturb us, that seem too huge to be within our ability to control or change. The AIDS epidemic in Africa? Avert your eyes, change the channel and it’s gone. Genocide in Somalia? Click! Gone . . . no longer a part of our sphere of reality. Images of factory farming, most of them far worse than what you see coming at you from the Gulf? I dare you to try to watch them – God knows, I can’t. And yet, as disturbing as it all is, it is what Al Gore refers to as, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

AIDS in Africa or anyplace else touches us, factory farming inflicts enormous pain on animals and provides humans with a tainted and potentially fatal food source, and whether we look at the pictures or not, human beings are killing each other for such twisted and egotistical reasons it’s unbearable to contemplate . . . so we don’t. We change the channel and ignore it, don’t contact our politicians and demand something be done, don’t donate to organizations dedicated to attacking the problems. We blithely forge onward with our day-to-day lives. Even Al Gore, with all his impassioned pontification about global warming, ignores the well-documented fact that the meat industry is responsible for the production of more greenhouse gasses than all automobiles combined and refuses to give up steak because he just plain likes it. Damn, now that IS an inconvenient truth . . . and I voted for him!

But back to the pictures on the news. Can I look at them over and over again? Hell, I have to look away from the footage of the millions of gallons of oil spewing underwater, never mind the dying pelicans. But this is a disaster that is happening every day, it affects the residents of the Gulf, both animal and human, and will affect the planet long after my great grandchildren have passed on (and our oldest grandchild isn’t yet five.) This oil spill is symbolic of how Big Business has been allowed to conduct their business in the name of “PROFIT” with little regard for the its influence on the planet, humanity and yes, the pelicans and other living denizens of the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

In the end, why is it so hard to look at these incredibly graphic photos in the news? I believe it’s because no matter how hard we try to pretend we are separate and far above every horrible thing that happens in the world, our souls recognize that we are all connected, intertwined with the same spirit, and whatever happens to, for example, the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and children enslaved in the sex trade, is on some level happening to all of us. Don’t buy my argument? Then go ahead, look at those pictures and walk away unaffected – I dare you!

But even if we don’t look, that needle is still stabbing us in the arm and we feel the pain. And it’s going to keep coming back to stab us again, so we might as well be REALLY brave and take a hard look at it to understand what’s happening to us, and then, maybe even do something about it . . .

To start, I will not buy gas from BP. And with the 11 miles to the gallon my farm truck guzzles down, that’s 75 bucks every two weeks. What are you going to do to make sure this never happens again?

 

Catching up June 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathleen @ 2:57 pm
 

Learning to communicate with animals – of course you can do it! May 19, 2010

OK, I know I promised this weeks ago, but I wanted to clean up the book a bit before I put it out there. Editorial mistakes can be distracting and I hate to get comments about picky stuff. I’ve said it before, anyone can communicate with animals, and I’ve written a work book telling you how. I’m going to print the first few chapters in this blog to give you something to start with. I would love feedback after you try the excercises, and I am happy to coach you as you go, so let me know if you need help. Today you get the introduction and the first exercise, and  next week I’ll give you another exercise to work with. There is no magic or secret code to crack – trust me, if you try it, you’ll see what I mean.

The Vegetarian in a Steakhouse Workbook

 This is not a book for people who want to learn how to communicate with animals on a professional level. I don’t, and never plan to – my life is busy enough without adding to the congestion. However, if you want to learn how to seamlessly integrate animals into your life as friends and companions, or have a dialogue with a puppy you meet on the street, or understand what the squirrel on your back porch is thinking about as it looks through the window at you, then I can help you because that is the story of my life. Each and every day is filled with conversation and camaraderie with my dozens of furry and feathered friends, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Anyone can do it. I’ll say it over and over again; communicating with animals is not magic, nor does it take great psychic powers. All you need is a willingness to understand them, the ability to pay attention and carefully observe, and a trust in your own instincts, which is probably the hardest part.

But be warned. Once you start to hear what your animal friends have to say to you, you will be forever changed. I know I will never be the same. I see the world through their eyes, and it is a very dangerous place when for so many of them the future holds little more than being portioned out as part of a stir fry, Sunday barbeque or dog pound euthanasia statistic. These are things most people don’t want to know or think about since they’re too disturbing. And even worse (for some people) do you really want to know your dog thinks your favorite perfume is the most rancid thing he’s ever smelled? Hey, it happens.   

Animals are not like humans – they are completely honest about who they are, what they want and how they feel. Hypocrisy has no place in their lives, and if you want to develop the best possible relationship with them, you should clean it out of yours, especially in the areas that concern them. Can you stand at the window of a pet store and chat with a chinchilla while wearing a coat with fur trim that was peeled off of her cousin? Can you ooh and ah over a baby calf at a country fair, then eat a plate of veal parmesan? Probably. Most people can. They have no problem separating the calf from the plate of food; the connection between the two has been severed. I, however, can’t do it because I’ve opened a door into a world where I now know way too much about how my animal friends and acquaintances feel. It’s a hard life, filled with responsibility and constant vigilance.

The flip side is that the animals also know how I feel. They know I adore every one of them, from the largest horse to the smallest spider on my porch, and they watch over me as carefully as I watch over them. Every move I make as I go about my day on Locket’s Meadow is saturated with conversation, much like wandering through a large party packed with friends and family. For the most part, I don’t even notice it happening, it’s so integrated into everything I do, but every once in a while someone points it out to me, and I have to laugh.

One day, I was crossing from the commercial side of the farm to the house side, followed by a friend and one of our riding instructors. As I approached the paddocks, each of the horses called out, then Locket, our burro, the goats, chickens, ducks and everyone else. I answered each of them as I walked past.

Behind me, the instructor said, “What in the world is going on here? Is something wrong?”

My friend laughed and said, “Haven’t you ever been treated to the sound of Kathleen’s arrival?”

It’s just friends greeting a friend as she arrives on the playground, and it’s a lovely place to be, if indeed you are up to the responsibility of it.

And so, by opening myself up to all of the other creatures on the planet, I am an oddity. I might look kind of like everyone else, but put me in a lot of normal social situations and I stick out like a sore thumb no matter how hard I try to blend in – kind of like a vegetarian in a steakhouse. Actually, exactly like a vegetarian in a steak house, a position I’ve been in quite frequently.

 If you’re up for it, I can help you learn how to do the same. Why, you ask, would anyone want that kind of life? For me, it’s a comfort. I am surrounded by love every minute of every single day, and having come from a childhood with far too little of that, it makes each day worth living. It can be very harsh and painful, emotionally and physically, and the ridicule that comes from being such an oddball can be hard to bear. Yet, for my animal friends who love me unconditionally, I will do anything, and they return that favor with all their hearts and souls.

If that’s what you want out of life, read on. If not, put down this book and run fast, because the moment you have your first real conversation with Fido or Bessie, you will never be the same.

Communicating with animals in not magic. Only a rare few people will wake up one day and hear crystal-clear conversation from their Dalmatian. The rest of us have to work hard at it, practicing all the time. Just as those with a knack for languages can pick them up faster, it’s the same with animal conversation. It’s not easy to decipher a foreign language; it takes some studying. Still, communication is possible.

Say you’re in France and you want to order from a menu, but you can’t speak a word of French. You can, however, read the English translation below the French description, so you are able to point at the page and get what you want. Your dog can do the same thing. For example, you want to know what brand of food your dog prefers, so you put two bowls with different kinds of food in front of him and let him choose the one he likes best. He chooses and there you have it, a conversation with your canine companion. You asked him what he wanted and he pointed a paw at the menu and answered you.

Some of you are now excited, understanding how easy and attainable this conversation actually is. Others are already disappointed. I can hear you shouting, “That’s it? That’s all you got for me? Where’s the mystery? Where’s the magic? Where’s the switch you flip to make all the information start to flow?”

Be patient. Relax. There is no switch, there is no magic. Just like learning French, it won’t happen overnight. You have to work at it, and the first thing you have to learn is that communication is already happening between you and your animal friends every single day. They actually are trying to tell you what’s on their minds. The first step towards being put at the beck and call of tiny kittens and giant Shires alike begins with recognizing this fact, then building upon what you already know. Pay attention to the obvious signs of communication you already have. When your dog brings you a ball and wants to play, throw it. She just asked you a question and you answered it affirmatively. When your dog asks for dinner by barking and pawing at the cabinet where the food is stored, but it’s two hours early, you say the word “no” and walk away. Conversation started, conversation ended. Total communication with each other and paying attention is the key.

I remember when I first studied Spanish in high school. It was a complete mystery to me, and I didn’t believe I’d ever be capable of learning the language. For the first month we learned simple vocabulary words such as numbers, animals, household appliances and the rooms in a house. I couldn’t figure out how any of that was going to get me a plate of spaghetti with vegetarian marinara sauce should I ever find myself in Tijuana, but I kept on memorizing. Then one day Senor Connelly explained the verb “estar,” or “to be,” and taught us how to conjugate it and use it in a sentence. I was ecstatic! Then came “tener,” to have. So exciting! I was building sentences!

When you first start communicating with animals, it begins with a few simple nouns. Notice them, each and every one of them, and the verbs will quickly follow. It’s all about observation and paying attention, which is the key to really meaningful communication with anyone. If you don’t develop your observation skills, you can’t communicate with animals. Those of us who grew up at the very bottom of the social food chain are often the quickest to catch on. And we’re often toughened up enough to gracefully handle the unwieldy position of vegetarian in a steakhouse. Isn’t it wonderful to finally see the upside to being the uncool social outcast?

But popular people, don’t despair. You, too, can learn the secrets and dispel the mystery. It’s simple enough for all of us.

First things first. Prepare for a total lack of drama. Your animal friends aren’t going to reveal any great mysteries to you nor will they give you the key to your future or introduce you to the great love of your life. For example, just minutes ago I could feel one of my yearlings, Adeline, trying to get my attention. It felt like she was saying, “Hey! Hey, hey, hey!”

So I went out to the barn, worried something bad had happened, such as her brother Leo getting cast in his stall again (stuck with his feet up against the wall, unable to get up.) I found her in her stall, indignant; the afternoon help had forgotten to give her hay. So really, what she was saying to me was, “Hay! Hay, hay, hay!” A classic misunderstanding, particularly when you are chatting with horses.

What you will find your animals saying to you is the same kind of conversation you would have with a friend, at least to start. You’ll learn some animals are polite, some are shy, some gregarious, some have a highly developed sense of humor. Some may even decide you are not a person they care to have any communication with, and there won’t be much you can do about it.

This communication can take many, many forms, the most common being a visual of what the animal wants to tell you. Sometimes the message will come across as a feeling, such as fear or contentment or even pain (but a very toned-down version of it.) Occasionally, you may actually hear words, but I have found not very many animals use words as they are more accurate with pictures or sensations.

While I have been able to communicate with animals my entire life (or rather, understand their communication with me) I didn’t actually go out of my way to communicate with a real purpose until I was in high school and a kitten had gone missing from its box in the basement when the momma cat decided there was a more secure place to keep her babies. I searched everywhere, and was worried sick about it. Finally I realized I needed a different tact.

I knew nothing about meditation, aside from what I’d been told about how people in cults mediated all the time (it was the 1970s and I was raised Catholic, so most everyone else was considered weird) but I realized if I was going to get that momma cat to tell me anything, I had to clear my head, and I was pretty frazzled so it wasn’t going to be easy. I decided to lie down on the sofa and close my eyes, focusing on momma and her baby.

It’s almost impossible to clear your head when you have a kitten lost in the basement, so it took quite a while, possibly as long and thirty minutes, but I finally got a vision of the cat carrying her kitten up the side of the big Christmas tree box under the shelving where she dropped the kitten into the back left corner of the box. I jumped to my feet and raced downstairs. The Christmas tree box was huge, about six feet long, three feet deep, and three feet high, but I knew exactly where to look, all the way in the bottom of the box in the back left corner. I fished her out and gave her mother a lecture, but was pleased to realize I could find any other lost babies should she decide to start hiding them again.

Step One:

NOTICE EVERYTHING, DISCOUNT NOTHING!

If you are just beginning down the road of animal communication, you must learn to clear your head and go into a very light meditative state. You won’t always have to go through this process, but it’s a helpful to start this way so you know what it will feel like when you “flip the switch” that allows you to make contact. With practice, it won’t take more than a split second to achieve the proper mind frame.

Start this exercise by deciding what animal you would like to connect with, preferable one with whom you are already well acquainted. Generally, those are the ones who are already talking to you all the time, hoping you’ll finally catch on to what they’re saying. A willing partner is always useful.

Find someplace comfortable and quiet, such as a bed, sofa or recliner, and close your eyes. If you are familiar with any breathing exercises, feel free to use them to help clear your mind, but believe me, I knew nothing about that when I first dabbled in cat retrieval. Make your focal point a visual of the animal you are trying to communicate with. It doesn’t have to stay your focal point, it just helps if you start there to make the initial contact.

Relax. Pressuring yourself to succeed will defeat the purpose, which is a relaxed exchange of information. Be specific. Start with a question, such as, “Where did you hide that kitten?” The response will be immediate, but you may not notice it because you haven’t yet trained yourself to recognize it. Don’t expect an entire sentence to pop into your head. But – pay close attention to what is happening to your body. For example, if you want to know where the kitten is, and you feel a slight prickly sensation on your skin, which I did before I saw the visual of the cat, it’s a communication, what the momma cat felt as she put the kitten in the box full of plastic tree branches.

Are you asking a question as simple as, “Are you happy living in this house?” Take a moment to “feel” how you “feel.” If you feel a wash of happiness, contentedness, or even nervousness, pay attention; it’s probably not your feeling, but theirs. If your question is why your dog is not eating his food, pay close attention to how your body feels immediately after you ask him. Does your stomach ache? Do you have a slightly bad taste in your mouth? Take note. 

Don’t give up if you don’t notice anything right away. Just be absolutely assured your animal subject is trying hard to pass along a message, and will continue to try until you get it. Believe me, they are much more patient than you or I, and they won’t give up on you, so don’t give up on them as they are doing their very best.

This is an exercise in awareness. NOTICE EVERYTHING, DISCOUNT NOTHING. Awareness is a skill that must be developed as we are all far too overwhelmed by life and its demands to pay attention to the subtle conversation your cat is having with you. But, once you understand what it feels like when you reach that space of awareness, you will learn to duplicate it over and over again until you can produce it on demand.

Give yourself plenty of time for this exercise. And realize that when you’re done, you won’t necessarily be done. Hours later, you may have a flashback of something you experienced during your session that didn’t make sense. Take a moment to think about it, much like when you can’t remember a dream when you first wake up, but later on you recall the tiniest part of it, just a thread, and are able to grab it and reel in the rest of the dream.

How, you might ask, in this sea of subtle communiqué, are you supposed to know the difference between a real, honest tidbit of information and the product of an overactive imagination? What’s the acid test to understand the difference between real and imaginary? It’s actually so simple it’s laughable. Think about what you saw or felt during your session. Focus on your body. Do you feel an uneasiness in your gut? Kind of a gentle gnawing in the stomach area? If so, the response you got is probably not authentic and was generated by your own subconscious, not from your animal. A different author could tell you all about chakras and their particular roles in animal communication, but I’ve skipped that bit of education in favor of following my conscience and listening to the dictates of my soul. I know for a fact that the stomach is capable of telling great lies (come on, think about it – how often has your stomach insisted it wanted just one more éclair or chocolate donut only to have it rebel on you by either bloating up and doubling you over in pain or hurling the donut back up into your toilet?) You just can’t trust your stomach to tell the truth.

Think about what information you’ve been told, and focus on your heart. Does it feel content and secure and confident in your chest? Is there a sense of certainty and calmness? If so, you’ve gotten a real piece of communication. If your focus shifts down to your shiftless stomach, you’ve been deluded.

The heart does not tell lies. Ever. There’s a slight possibility of being duped by a little acid rising up a tad high in your stomach, but with practice, you will learn to tell the difference immediately.

Don’t expect your first try at this exercise to open all the doors to your pet’s psyche. It takes a lot of practice and repetition to learn how to conjugate verbs in Spanish, and “animalease” is no different. Keep trying, and remember, look beneath the shouting – the loudest voice is generally you trying to impose what you want to hear on your animal friend – just listen for the whisper. It’s right under your nose because they are talking to you all the time.

Plan to spend at least four to six sessions with this exercise before moving on to the next. Write down everything you see or feel, including if what you experienced passes the Heart Test awareness.

NOTICE EVERYTHING, DISCOUNT NOTHING!

Ozzie Osboar - he talks to me all day long - loudly . . .

 

 
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