February 3, 2011
Freshly coiffed, Bonnie slinked into the house. She refused to look at me and I understood why. Her appearance was shocking. I did my best to hide my reaction and spare her feelings, but it was no use. Bonnie knew how bizarre she looked. “It’ll grow back, honey,” was on the tip of my tongue but I didn’t say the words. They’re true but not particularly helpful. Every woman knows that. Behind Bonnie’s back, my husband Jerry mouthed the plea, “Do something”. I sneaked into the kitchen and called the salon. The owner answered on the first ring. She must have known I’d call. I stood in the corner of the kitchen and whispered into the phone. I didn’t even try to be polite. “Bonnie’s cut looks awful. What happened?” “Well,” she said, “Bonnie had a hard time today. She was nervous and uncooperative. Actually, I had to put a muzzle on her when I trimmed her nails. I never did finish cutting her fur. That’s why she looks a little lopsided.” “A muzzle?” I was horrified. “Our Bonnie?” Bonnie had never needed a muzzle before. I panicked. We had struggled for months to find a groomer who knew the right way to clip a West Highland terrier. Would we have to go through the process all over again because Bonnie had misbehaved? “I hope Bonnie is welcome to come back.” “Of course. She was just a little nervous today.” I wasn’t reassured. I could imagine the scene on the grooming table: a snarling, snapping, wriggling bundle of wet fur trying to jump off and a young woman making frantic efforts to contain this out-of-control animal. As she struggled to subdue Bonnie, the groomer was probably thinking, “These people have no business owning a dog if they can’t train her any better than this.” I was mortified. I glared at the innocent-looking, 18-pound bundle of asymmetrical white fur stretched out at my feet, blissfully unaware of how much trouble she was in. It’s a good thing she’s cute. I couldn’t remain upset for long with such an adorable creature, a sweet little presence who wants nothing more than to be fed regularly, take as many walks as we’re up for and curl up in our bed at night. Bonnie is our self-appointed protector and any animal or person daring to walk within a block of our house is put on notice. She performs a ritual that hasn’t varied since she was a puppy. First comes some controlled barking followed by a mad dash to hop on her viewing station, the radiator in front of the dining room windows. We’ve learned to step back to make way for the intrepid and fast-moving white streak that seems to come out of nowhere. That’s when the real barking starts. Loud, rapid and hysterical, meant for a would-be intruder to hear and heed: You better not come any closer.
The next part of the ritual is inexplicable, even though we’ve seen it hundreds of times. She stops barking, jumps off the radiator and runs at least twice around the dining room table. Again, we’re careful not to stand directly in her path because she stops for nothing. She is a dog on a mission.
Following the dining room circuit, Bonnie heads into the living room and jumps up on a bench in front of a side window, barks a few more times and then collapses on the bench. Defending your family is hard work. No longer angry, I tried to figure out the reason for the debacle on the grooming table. Besides “bad dog”, could there be another explanation? Was the groomer at fault? Had she mistreated Bonnie? We needed to get at the truth. The problem was that Bonnie couldn’t help us. Our daughter Leslie offered a solution. Her friend Kathie had consulted an animal psychic just for the fun of it. The consultation might have started out as amusement, but it became something more serious. Through her dog, Kathie learned that her husband had stopped taking his daily medication. Intrigued, Jerry and I dug a little further. Our investigation led us to our friend Judy, who had consulted an animal communicator. Practical and no-nonsense, Judy was the last person we thought would go this route. “I was desperate,” she said. Lilly, her once gentle, sweet labradoodle, had done an about-face. Disobedient and willful, Lilly was a tyrant who ruled the household. In a last-ditch effort, Judy called in Stacy, a professional animal communicator. Within minutes of meeting the dog, Stacy understood the reason for Lilly’s altered behavior. “Lilly is worried about you, Judy. She thinks you’re giving up too much of your time to take care of your parents, and you’re not taking care of yourself.” Stacy had never met Judy before. The only way Stacy could have gotten information about Judy’s family was from the dog. And the dog was right. Judy, a single woman, had sacrificed her social life and her freedom to be available to her aged parents. Lilly wanted to get her mistress’s attention, and she did that the only way she knew how – by behaving badly. Her method worked. We were fascinated, even Jerry, the accountant, whose world is pragmatic, logical, concrete. With some trepidation and even more excitement, we decided to contact Stacy. When I called her my heart pounded as I introduced myself. First of all, I didn’t know the proper way to speak to a psychic, animal or otherwise. Maybe I wouldn’t even need to speak. Maybe Stacy could just read my thoughts. Second, I worried that Bonnie wouldn’t qualify as a client, or that Jerry and I wouldn’t make the cut. I was grateful and relieved when Stacy agreed to come to our house. “But before our meeting, please send me a picture of Bonnie, one that shows her eyes. I can start communicating with her as soon as I see her picture. Also, be sure to think about the questions you want me to ask Bonnie.” Conversing with a dog long distance sounded a little weird. I began to have second thoughts and wanted to back out, but I knew it was too late for that. So I tried to draw Stacy out, hoping that if we talked long enough I’d have a better sense of who she was. I needed reassurance that we were doing the right thing. When I began to tell her more about Bonnie, Stacy cut me off in mid-sentence. “No, it’s better if you don’t tell me anything about either your dog or you.” I understood what she meant and I was impressed with Stacy’s professional integrity. I agreed to send the picture. Jerry and I were nervous the night of the appointment. Bonnie, on the other hand, didn’t seem concerned; presumably she and Stacy had already been in touch. When the doorbell rang, Jerry had a hard time reining Bonnie in. Stacy had scarcely crossed the threshold when Bonnie began her official greeting. She barked an enthusiastic welcome, jumped up and down in front of Stacy and ended with her specialty, posing for several seconds on her two hind legs, like a circus dog. We smiled expectantly and waited for the compliments Bonnie usually gets for this performance. There were none, just an awkward silence. Bonnie persevered, and tried to lure Stacy into the kitchen, where the doggy treat jar waited. Again, no response. We tried not to show our disappointment. How could an animal communicator not appreciate how cute our dog was? Stacy was not what I expected. I pictured someone old and scrawny, wearing a floppy felt hat and carrying a canvas satchel. Mary Poppins for dogs. Instead we saw a young, attractive blonde in form-fitting jeans and a leather jacket. But, like Mary Poppins, she was all business. We walked into the living room and sat down. Bonnie stationed herself directly in front of Stacy, who sat next to me on the sofa. She didn’t take her huge brown eyes off Stacy and her body was at attention: little ears pointed straight up and furry tail erect. The room became still and Stacy locked eyes with Bonnie. They gazed intently at one another and we could feel a tension, an electricity present in the room. The two of them had created their own world and Jerry and I were not part of it. All we could do was sit quietly and wait for “something”, we didn’t know what, to happen. After a few minutes, Stacy broke the silence. “Bonnie has something to tell you. She wants you to know that she loves you both and that you are good parents. She likes living with you.” Jerry and I smiled at each other and looked benevolently down at Bonnie, by now a limp, furry white mound at Stacy’s feet. “However, there are some things she’s not happy about.” We were surprised to hear that because Bonnie is a spoiled dog. Our grown children often remind us of that. They claim Bonnie has always gotten everything she wants and that we’re much more lenient with her than we were with them. What could Bonnie possibly be unhappy about? Plenty, it seems. “First of all, Bonnie doesn’t like her collar because it’s red and green plaid, which is clearly meant for a boy. Pink is Bonnie’s favorite color and much more suitable for a girl, especially a girl like Bonnie.” Stacy explained that Bonnie is a very feminine dog and used the words “refined”, “elegant” and even “prissy” to describe her. “Bonnie says she’s not a tomboy.” Elegant? Refined? She’s a dog. We’d seen her play rough lots of times and we believe her goal in life is to outrun and capture a rabbit or a squirrel, or even more than just “capture” one of these creatures. An animal trainer once told us that Westies were bred for killing small animals and rodents, a bit of information we tried not to think about and never shared with anyone, especially parents of young children. The collar issue did pique our interest. Only a few days earlier we had ordered a new collar with a matching leash in a tartan plaid that we thought was appropriate for a Scottish dog. Jerry and I glanced at each other with the same idea: is it too late to cancel the order? We weren’t convinced yet that Stacy was privy to Bonnie’s thoughts. Even someone who didn’t claim to be clairvoyant could see that Bonnie adored her family. Nor would it take any special skills to know that Bonnie’s faded and torn collar needed to be replaced. A preference for pink? That would be hard to prove. How gullible does Stacy think we are? She’d have to do better. She did. A few minutes later Stacy turned to Jerry and said, “Bonnie is worried about your health. She tells me there’s a problem with your breathing. Something is impeding it. Something on your face, like a mask.” That caught our attention. Jerry had recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea and wore a CPAP mask at night to ease his breathing. Stacy could never have known about the mask and there was nothing in Jerry’s appearance to indicate he had any medical problems. I was next. “Paula, Bonnie likes it when you get down on the floor and play with her, but she says you don’t do that often enough.”
I admitted that was true.
Stacy continued. “Bonnie also likes to take walks with you and enjoys the songs you sing to her along the way.” Jerry threw me a quizzical look and I nearly jumped off the couch. I do sing to Bonnie on our walks. I’ve done that ever since she was a puppy. But only when the two of us walk alone. Jerry said, “You sing to her? I didn’t know that.” “Nobody does. Except for Bonnie and me.” Stacy was gaining on the credibility front. By this time, Jerry and I were on the edge of our seats, mesmerized. Bonnie told Stacy that when we leave her alone in the house for more than a few hours, she is afraid we won’t come back. When she sees us pack up her crate, food and toys for an overnight trip with her, she thinks she’ll never see her treasures again. That would explain why she barks uncontrollably when we pack the car. That poor little dog was frightened and confused. Why didn’t we understand that? Our transgressions were mounting fast. “You should know,” Stacy went on, “that Bonnie is tired of her food. The same menu, day after day. She would appreciate some variety, the same as you.” We felt guiltier by the minute, and the worst part was yet to come. It was time to ask the most important question of the evening. Jerry turned to Stacy. “Please ask Bonnie what happened at the groomer.” For the second time, Stacy and Bonnie gazed into each other’s eyes. “Bonnie tells me that she doesn’t like being groomed and that the groomer is rough with her. Bonnie says, ‘She pulled my beard’”. The question was, “Which groomer?” We had recently switched grooming salons and we needed to find out which one Bonnie meant. But Bonnie was done talking and had plopped down in the middle of the living room floor, fast asleep. I couldn’t blame her. We were all exhausted. Our one-hour session had lasted for close to three hours.
Inspired by Stacy, I attempted to communicate silently with Bonnie. Don’t worry, Bon. We’ll find a new groomer – one who is gentle with you and makes you look pretty, too.
I knew that Jerry was also doing something silently. He was punching numbers into an imaginary calculator, multiplying Stacy’s hourly rate by the length of the session. Later, when we spoke about her fee, Jerry was philosophical. “Look at it this way. We’ll include the cost in this month’s entertainment budget. But maybe we shouldn’t tell anyone how expensive Stacy’s visit was. This evening will be hard enough to explain as it is.” The experience turned out to be more than just entertainment. We certainly understand Bonnie better. Now when we leave the house, we tell her how long we’ll be gone. Before we take her on an overnight trip, we give her advance notice and make sure she knows her toys will be coming with her. Our strategy has worked. She watches our travel preparations now with interest and curiosity, but minus the agitation and hysteria we were used to seeing. After talking to other pet owners and the vet about dog nutrition, Jerry and I switched Bonnie’s food to a new brand. It must taste pretty good to her – she licks her bowl clean and has gained a pound. In her new pink collar and accessories, Bonnie walks with a sprightly step. A princess, she graciously accepts (maybe even anticipates) the fuss that people make over her, and she’s never mistaken for a boy. We found a skilled new groomer who completes the grooming process without trauma to either her or Bonnie. The best part is we haven’t heard another word about muzzles. Although we vowed not to tell a soul about the animal communicator, it didn’t take long before we blurted out the story. At first we were careful about whom we told. But after a while, we didn’t care who heard about our experience or what they might think of us. So what if we appear to be inept pet owners, or too indulgent, or just plain crazy - we love to share Bonnie’s story with anyone who will listen. Meanwhile, she is enjoying every minute of her new celebrity. And Jerry is no longer concerned about the cost of Stacy’s visit. We both think that any way you look at it, the evening was worth every cent.
I was sent this by a wonderful woman who had consulted a professional dog communicator or dog psychic. It was about her dog Bonnie. I found it so amusing and well written I had to share. It's a true story but "names have been changed to protect the guilty" Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.