What Are Dogs Thinking?
Consulting a Pet Psychic
Sometimes we know exactly what our dogs want. It’s pretty obvious when they put their front paws on the counter right in front of the treat jar. Other times, as I stare into big brown eyes, I often wonder what they’re thinking. Now, I know.
That’s because a pet psychic studied pictures of my two labs and one terrier-ish mutt and talked to them. From five states away. Several times, and told me exactly what my dogs were thinking.
When the oldest lab, Princess, stopped eating at age 14, I called one of my dog friends, you know, people who love their dogs more than other people. She told me to call her pet psychic to ask what was wrong. I was pretty sure arthritis and age had taken their tolls, and Princess was ready to check out. But I wanted specifics about Princess’ end of life choices, so I decided to call, even though I didn’t expect the psychic to offer more than advice about how to get her to eat.
When she suggested rice, yogurt and ground beef instead of dry dog food, I thought I’d paid for something I could have found on a search engine. But as we kept talking, I also got an unexpected opportunity to heal an old heartache. We talked on the phone half a dozen times. She would often stop talking mid-sentence and say “they’re showing me something”. I’d wait and wonder if any of this was real. Once, she had to reschedule our visit because she was inundated with calls from horse owners in California worried about their animals during a spate of wildfires.
She made some obvious armchair observations, Princess was in pain (yes, I told her age and arthritis diagnosis), Scamp thought he was in charge (small dog syndrome, a terrier between two labs), and Mocha was grateful to have a home (yes, I told her both Scamp and Mocha came from a shelter). But she also told me that all three missed a “yellow treat” they used to receive. I’d cut out American cheese squares a year prior. They all missed someone who used to hang around a lot. We did have a death in the family and two kids go away to college. That Scamp thought his job was to protect the house. He incessantly runs outside and barks at absolutely nothing, and that one of the dogs had unfinished business with me. That one sent goosebumps up my arms and made me a believer.
There was just something about Mocha. The way she leaned into my leg when we first met at the shelter. The way she favors me over everyone else in the family, and the way she talks with her eyes as if telling me a story from a long time ago.
Of the six dogs I’ve lived with, I’ve been with all but one when they died.
I recently learned that a childhood pet, a cockapoo, hadn’t “moved to a neighbors house” like I thought happened when our family spent a year out of the country. I never got to say goodbye to my first childhood friend and confidant, but during our last conversation, my psychic told me that Mocha had been with me before and had returned to find me and complete our story.
When the time came for Princess to leave us, Mocha knew it was her job to comfort me. As she leaned into my leg, the look in her eyes, the nose nudge and wag of her tail told me that it was the right thing to do. There was an almost eternal sense of understanding and forgiveness and a promise that this time, the two of us would take care of each other to the end.
Nora Baldner is an Assistant Professor of Communication and an unwavering advocate of the First Amendment. She uses dogs in her classroom as pre-test stress relievers. She also believes dogs understand us, but wishes we could understand them better.