Photo by Charlie Neuman
Sit back and don’t look down. This is a voyage of exploration that will lead to a place where neither of us has ever been. We’re going to visit a woman who talks with animals — living and dead, large and small, tame and wild.
Full disclosure: If my ignorance of animal thinking were bricks and mortar, it would build the Chargers their next stadium.
Lisa Larson of Carlsbad is 50-ish, has an advanced college degree and is suburbanly grounded. She also has a quality we all admire: She’s not boring.
Lisa’s animal-talking occupation neither falls into a Rotary Club category nor generates nods of understanding. She says, “Even my neighbors look at me with a cocked head once in a while.”
Let’s clear up a misunderstanding that I might have helped create: She is not Doctor Doolittle redux. Her communication is extrasensory.
“I connect with them telepathically. Animals send me images, or they send me sounds, or they send me feelings. So when I tell you what they ‘say’ to me, I’m just translating those things into English.”
Lisa says she has communicated with rats, pigs, parrots and other beasts, but her clients don’t pay much for sharing the thoughts of a rat.
As a therapist, she charges $60 to $135 per session. Her business is called Pawstalk, and she says it keeps her going full time. She describes herself as “animal communicator, animal medium, Reiki master.”
(“Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.” Thanks, Google.)
Lisa does not have to be in the presence of an animal to communicate. They talk through the spirit, on both sides of the great-beyond boundary, and I’m lost in a swamp as to how that happens.
Lisa, why would I want you to talk to my dog?
“Lots of reasons, mainly to achieve understanding. By the way, I never use ‘owner.’ I always say ‘pet parent’ and ‘fur kids.’ ”
Understanding? All I ask of my fur kid is that she come when called, stop when ordered, stay off the bed and do her business outside. Any misunderstanding is on her part. We shouldn’t have to talk about it.
Does an animal ever say to you, “I’m old. I’m sick. I’m tired. I want to go to my extraterrestrial reward”?
“A lot of people will call me for that, asking, ‘Is it time?’ There are some animals that will say to me, ‘Oh, my God, yes. It’s time. Just let me go.’ ”
What is the difference between cats and dogs? Cats seem more independent.
“In some ways, yes, but you can’t just leave them overnight with a bowl of food and not check in on them. Cats need love and affection just like dogs, just like all animals do.”
I ask Lisa about the tawny orange cat in the corner staring at me.
She nods in its direction. “This cat is the first I’ve ever had that doesn’t come when I whistle.”
Have you asked him why?
“He’s got his own mind. He’s just a stubborn guy, and I accept that.”
She believes animals have an afterlife, as do humans. Lisa calls it “the other side,” and it’s spiritual, not corporeal.
“I believe that heaven and hell are right here on earth. There are a lot of animals who live their entire lives in hell — rescue animals, research animals. …”
I don’t even have to ask if you’re a vegetarian.
“I am. I am.”
Lisa discovered her gift as a teenager. She also has telepathic powers with humans. Over the years, she has studied with more experienced practitioners. She says that other than clinical studies, she is aware of no college courses for understanding animal behavior.
Lisa, if colleges had animal-studies programs, pretty soon the dogs would say, like human groups, “We want our own program.” Then the cats …
Do animals ever object to being neutered?
“No, no. They object to being debarked. They object to being declawed.” She pauses, troubled by a memory. “Oh, my God. There is not one declawed cat that I’ve ever talked to that was not completely traumatized by it.”
You can talk to birds, right?
Do you ever hear birds say, “Declaw those cats”?
“It’s our responsibility to keep cats indoors,” she says sidesteppingly.
When a pet appears to be hurting, she is often requested to ask the animal what ails it. When she gets an answer, she forwards it to the owner — oops!, pet parent — but says she carefully avoids giving medical diagnoses.
Lisa says she occasionally talks to wild predators, mentioning a recent encounter with a bobcat skulking around the neighborhood. She says she reached out to the bobcat to tell him he was not safe in a settled neighborhood.
I ask: What if he says, “Sorry, but I’ve developed a taste for house cats”?
Her silence is pregnant. I move on. So, how about a rat?
“I talk to rats. A couple of weeks ago, somebody called and asked if I could talk to some rats and tell them to leave her attic, but I haven’t heard back from her.”
Have you ever had an animal tell you to mind your own business or say, “That’s personal”?
“No. There are some animals that are a little bit harder to talk to. For instance, some might be maybe a little embarrassed about a behavioral problem.”
Can animals read our intentions?
Then why would a dog bite a mail carrier?
“They may have had an abusive background or be triggered by something like (post-traumatic stress disorder) from a rescue kennel, like the sight of a uniform.”
Would an unadoptable old pit bull in the rescue kennel know he’s about to be put down, that he’s on death row?
“Pit bulls are some of the friendliest animals. They get a bad rap.”
Everyone says that, but no one rushes up to hug one they don’t already know.
“Anyway, pit bulls. I had a client (who said of one), ‘He’s not rescuable. He’s aggressive.’ I talked to the dog and the dog said, ‘They plan on killing me. What would you do? You wouldn’t be aggressive to somebody that’s going to kill you?’ He was really agitated about it. I said, ‘I think the dog is fine.’ She got him help, and they’ve been fine ever since.”
Can animals communicate with each other? Take that doomed pit bull in the rescue center. Another dog comes in and says, “You know what they’re going to do to you, don’t you, buddy?”
“Yeah. They do.”
Have you talked to pigs or cattle in a feedlot, just before they’re led to slaughter?
“I have not done that. That would be very difficult for me — to talk to animals where I can’t help them.”
You think they ever wonder why they’re getting all the free corn?
“I think they are miserable in their surroundings. They don’t have the sense of what is going to happen. They have a sense that this is not right. I mean, they’re pigs in cages.”
I cannot enter the spirit realm that Lisa is connected to, and frankly, I’m willing to wait. On such matters, I confess a level of ignorance that rivals sophomore chemistry, and the depth of that went all the way to China, as we used to say. The only ethereal voice I ever hear is my conscience, and that can be damn irritating.
However, I have learned that when I ridicule something I don’t understand, the laugh usually ends up on me. Even so, asking me to stifle all humor on a subject like this would be akin to asking a small child to sit and stare at an unwrapped Snickers bar. But my humor should only be what Lisa can also smile at. This is a nice lady doing what she believes in.
Considering all this, a well-known line from “Hamlet” comes to mind:
Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
(Let me flex my own channeling abilities by listening in on these guys doing small talk after four centuries on their celestial stage.)
Horatio: “OK, Ham-ster, but check out this woman who talks to animals, even dead ones. That’s pretty far out, even for you.”
Hamlet: “Like me and Mr. S always say, you need to broaden your thinking, dude. You’re here, aren’t you?”
Fred Dickey’s home page is freddickey.net
His email is firstname.lastname@example.org