What Does an Animal Communicator Really Do?
Kelly Conaboy on Intuition-Based Communication
Have you ever visited a human psychic? I haven’t, but I once had a tarot card reading. It was a lot of fun, in large part because I did it as part of my job, so it was free, and otherwise it would have been $80. It was mostly a lot of compliments: The tarot reader said that I was a strong and powerful woman, that I was working on something that would change my life forever, that the only thing standing in my way was my own self-doubt, and that I had a strong presence in my life that supported me emotionally and inspired me creatively. At the time I was curious about why that last one didn’t seem to resonate, as the rest of the compliments seemed, clearly, dead-on. In thinking about it since, I guess it’s because I was trying to pin the description on a human. Maybe the cards were, instead, sensing Peter. That feels more correct; our first mystical connection.
I guess all the compliments were true, then.
It’s obvious why someone might be tempted to turn to a communicator in order to talk to their beloved animal, even if that person is otherwise reasonable. It’s terribly hard to share a life with a close friend with whom you are unable to speak. It would be nice to find out, at least, a few basic things. Are they okay? Are they happy? Do they like you? Would they have rather had the green giraffe toy with a squeaky butt, or are they okay with the purple elephant toy with the squeaky trunk? Do they feel safe? Do they know how much you love them? Are they happy? Are they happy? Please, god, just tell me this—are they happy?
What a communicator does extends beyond the novelty of finding out your animal’s likes (brown treats, apparently) and dislikes (when your boyfriend is near you) and into heavier subjects, like the sources of behavioral abnormalities and illness. Some also offer the service of finding lost pets, but that is a bit more specialized. People will call a communicator to find out why their horse keeps bucking, or why their cat won’t pee in her litter box. They’ll schedule a session to find out if their dog is in pain. They’ll reserve some time if their animal is dying and they just need help letting go.
And they pay. A half-hour phone session is generally around $75, but it can be double that, or more. A half-hour session from a communicator in Michigan who goes by “Lorrie the Pet Psychic” is $105; a full hour is $210. Laura Stinchfield, a communicator in California, charges $150 for a half hour, $275 for a full hour, and $550 for two hours. Emergency sessions are offered at a higher cost. In Stinchfield’s case they begin at $200 for a half hour. Most sessions are conducted via phone because communicators can reach more clients that way, and because, as communicators will eagerly tell you, energy can be read over the phone just as well as it can be read in person.
But can an animal communicator really open up a path of understanding between a woman and the sweet dog whom she loves so much that it makes her want to die every single day of her life and like her internal organs are combusting one by one beginning with her heart? And, if so, how?
“Animal communication is very simply a process of becoming more aware of the images in your mind, the thoughts in your mind, and the feelings in your body,” Diana DelMonte, an animal communicator in Los Angeles, told me over the phone. At the time we spoke she’d been a professional communicator for nineteen years. In conversation she’s warm and charming, and when she talks about her work—which can be seen in many videos online, if you’d like to watch for yourself—she is incredibly convincing.
In one video titled “Animals Are Psychic. The Good News Is . . . So Are We!” she sits cross-legged in a chair at what seems to be some sort of holistic bookstore. She is calm and lithe with long gray hair tied loosely at her neck, a billowing white blouse, and a floor-length forest-green skirt; in other words, she looks exactly like what you would expect. She has a resonant, patient voice. In Animals Are Psychic. The Good News Is . . . So Are We! the movie, she would be played by Meryl Streep.
DelMonte specializes in communicating with animals who have behavioral issues, animals experiencing an illness, lost animals, and animals at the end of their life. The goal of a typical session is communicating to you how your animal is feeling; she does this by connecting to them telepathically and receiving the images they’re sending, then passing them on to you to place them in context. In healing sessions she does a body scan of the animal to find where there might be physical pain, and a chakra diagnosis to find where there might be an emotional root to the pain. In testimonials on her website, customers praise her for being able to help her animals when their vet couldn’t.
“Thanks to you Chewy is alive,” says Lila Henry from Boise, Idaho. “The Vet had said he was in pain and gave him morphine! Chewy did not improve. He did not eat for two days. I told the Vet that you said it was his stomach, and that Chewy felt extremely nauseous. They gave him fluids, did a blood test and gave him anti-nausea medication. He went home and ate and drank. They never found out what was wrong with him, but he is getting better every day. You saved his life!”
And of course we’re glad for Chewy.
DelMonte is one of a few animal communicators I spoke with for the purpose of what you are reading right now, as well as for my general life’s purpose of one day being able to ask Peter if he likes my outfit or thinks I should wear something else. I’d imagined these conversations would feature me lightly dancing around the question of exactly how they . . . do it?—meaning, how they talk to animals telepathically and over the phone—until potentially gathering the courage to ask something similar to that question in veiled terms. This delicate touch was not necessary. Everyone was very okay with telling me exactly how they . . . do it.
Some of them even teach classes on exactly how they do it, and it was in those sorts of classes where many of them learned exactly how they do it in the first place. DelMonte teaches regular animal communication workshops in LA, but they’re also offered by other communicators everywhere, in abundance, all over the country as well as online. Telepathic communication is not some great secret, or a gift for the few. It is, as everyone would tell me at some point in our conversation and usually right at the beginning, the most natural way any of us can connect with each other.
“Kids do it naturally. Mothers with infants, mothers with toddlers,” Cathy Malkin, an animal communicator from Pleasant Hill, California, told me, regarding nonverbal intuition-based communication. (She, too, teaches classes, and learned communication under communicator Penelope Smith.) “Before we learn verbal language we’re all doing it, we’re born doing it. But then we value language, and if it can’t be seen, it can’t be measured. We don’t value intuition.
“You’re doing it on some level with Peter already,” she continued. “Some of the basics. But what blocks us is that we invalidate ourselves. We have projections, our own thoughts and feelings can block our intuition, and sometimes we anthropomorphize animals… so it’s not an authentic dialogue. But communication is a heart-to-heart connection, and the head does the interpretation.”
(Cathy Malkin, I want to point out, has an excellent website. In one section about what you should expect from a session, various little images of animals are coupled with quotes about why you should give Cathy a call. It’s very good. A parrot says, “Now my people know how to help me.” A horse says, “I love working with Cathy because everyone wins.” A donkey says, “Best of all I don’t have to leave my home to talk with Cathy.” And that donkey is right—not having to leave your home is truly is one of the best parts of any home-based activity.)
It’s true, of course, that Peter and I communicate somewhat intuitively already. Dogs communicate through body language—baring their teeth, wagging their tail, panting, looking into your eyes with an intensity that can only mean “PLEASE. I NEED TO PEE!!!!!!!!!!!!”—and respond to subtle human cues in a way that can make it seem like they’re reading your mind. Peter, for example, will run to his crate, his poor little tail fluttering in fear, whenever I even begin to walk toward the direction of where his toothbrush is kept. I try to tell him through subtle pained facial expressions: My sweet friend, I am just trying to brush your teeth. I assure you this is for your benefit, and that your dog toothpaste is chicken-flavored, which the box assures me is pleasant for you. Please, just let me brush your teeth so your vet doesn’t think I am bad.
Animal communicators insist, though, that this connection goes beyond the reading of bodily cues. “A lot of times people will know something about their pet and they won’t even realize they know it,” Anne Angelo Webb, an animal communicator from New Jersey, told me. “For instance, someone’s dog might be telling them that they have to go to the bathroom, and the person’s just sitting there, walking around, whatever, and then all of the sudden they think—I need to take my dog out, he’s gotta go out. They overlook things like that.”
Okay. So, if we can all do it . . . how do we do it?
“Some teachers will say you imagine a golden spiral going from your heart to your animal’s heart,” DelMonte told me. “Those methods are good to start off with, but really in essence you don’t need to do any of that. You just have to think about your animal.” Okay, amazing, I am already always doing that. Next? “You want to get out of your head. So you drop down to your heart center, and you set your attention on your heart center. So I just imagine being connected at my heart center with the animal, number one. Number two—”Telepathic communication is not some great secret, or a gift for the few. It is the most natural way any of us can connect with each other.
Wait, I’m not ready for number two. I do not know what dropping down to my heart center means, but it sounds like “singing from your diaphragm,” which is something I also do not understand. In discussion with these communicators and through additional research of my own, it seems the way you move out of the thinking mind and drop into your heart center is: by doing it. You shift your focus from your head to the physical center of your heart, you attempt to feel grounded there, and you take a few deep breaths, and that’s it. Okay. We’ve done it. Now we can rejoin DelMonte.
“Number two: I see the animal’s face in my mind’s eye, and mentally I may call his or her name a few times. And that’s it. You’ll feel an exhilaration in your heart center when you’re really connected. Then you just start asking your questions mentally, and you have to trust what you receive.”
After learning this, I try to do it with Peter. I concentrated on the middle of my torso. I took a few deep breaths. I tried to clear my mind and waited to receive what he might be sending. Shoes popped into my head. Pork chop. Hm. These have no connection to Peter, so either I was communicating with a ghost, or (scarier still) my brain, once cleared of its usual chatter, was hardwired to fall back on fairly old-timey dog tropes. Shoes I kept being sent. Pork chop. Ugh.
Learning to trust what you receive when connected to an animal is the primary goal of animal communication workshops. Participants will often be instructed to bring photos of their own pets, in order to pass them to each other and see if they can affirm what their fellow classmates are receiving from the photographed animal’s energy. You can imagine it now—a bunch of people sitting around, holding pictures of each other’s cats. “I’m sensing um… that she . . . is agitated about another cat, somewhere? . . . And she . . . um, can make a pretty convincing argument that Click is Adam Sandler’s best movie?” It’s a fun activity you can force your friends to do at a party they’ll immediately wish they’d thought twice about attending.
From The Particulars of Peter by Kelly Conaboy. Used with the permission of Grand Central Publishing. Copyright © 2020 by Kelly Conaboy.