I don’t use the term “fur baby mama” non-ironically or own a collection of seasonal holiday dog sweaters. My pup doesn’t have an Instagram account or eat small-batch, home-prepared foods. But, true confessions: I’ve had my animal communicator on speed dial for the better part of ten years now.
They tell you when you rescue a dog that it can take up to six months for their true personalities to come out, and boy was that true with our basset hound, Oliver. My husband Greg and I brought this little dude home to our overpriced Manhattan apartment 13 years ago feeling excited and determined.
The first few months were pure bliss. Cue the gauzy slow-mo video in my head: walks to the local dog park, fun conversations with strangers on the street, trips to Petco. Oliver was quiet, loving and shockingly obedient. His sole purpose in life seemed to be pleasing us in any way he possibly could.
I guess the changes started happening slowly: an unexpected pull on the leash, a barking session that went into overdrive. It didn’t take me long to realize the glaring truth that Oliver’s body had been taken over by an alien version of himself who had no relationship to the dog I had known and loved. And newsflash: This was the real Oliver.
That’s when I decided to hit the internet, and I hit it hard. I was going to research every single one of Oliver’s issues until I figured out a measured and easily implemented way of solving it. But there were thousands of disjointed suggestions from scads of unqualified people and none of them were working on my dog.
That’s when I found it.
If she wasn’t 3,000 miles away from me, I was positive she would have offered me some lemonade and cookies.
There was a post in a now defunct forum from a woman who claimed that all of her dog’s issues were solved in one 30-minute call with an animal communicator.
This woman’s dog seemed to have issues identical to Oliver’s, and both dogs were the exact same age. I had never even heard of an animal communicator before, but I was ready to sign up if this woman could stop my dog from barking for three straight hours (we recorded him) every time we left our damn apartment.
As someone who had always been fascinated by psychics and mediums — at least according to my TV watching habits — this wasn’t a gigantic leap for me. I researched my communicator and learned that she had worked at places like the Marine Mammal Center and the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and that was legit enough.
I nervously answered the phone the first time she called. “Hi, Errrica; it’s Mary!” This woman sounded like someone you would talk to in the school carpool pick-up lane or when returning your overdue library book. If she wasn’t 3,000 miles away from me, I was positive she would have offered me some lemonade and cookies. Her accent sounded vaguely Midwestern but also disarmingly sweet. She explained to me how animal communicators work, which is… telepathically.
When you see dogs greeting each other on the street or playing at the dog park, there often seems to be some sort of communication going on that is more than simply sniffing — and there is, as Mary explained. Animals communicate with each other telepathically all the time, and that is how she is able to “talk” with Oliver in a way that is far more effective than me screaming NOOOOOOOOO at him fourteen times in a row. [http://www.marygetten.com/what-is-animal-communication/].
She asked me what the issues were and I vaguely told her about his separation anxiety – leaving out a few details. I suppose I wanted to test her a bit. She then told my husband and I to hang on, and she got quiet while she “talked” to Oliver.
It’s during this quiet time that she’s actually doing her communicating, and since she does it telepathically, she doesn’t need to be in the same room, the same house, or even the same state. I learned that the phone call is totally for us, and really has nothing to do with her convo with our dog.
After a few minutes while I had the phone on mute — so that my husband and I could freely talk about how completely fucking crazy we were — she came back with some genuine scoop:
- He’s bored in his crate when you leave, so you need to give him something to do like a Kong filled up with treats. – OK, I did tell her we are crating him, so this wasn’t too much of a stretch.
- And he really doesn’t like being in the crate at night and wants to sleep in the same room with you guys – Um, never mentioned that he had been sleeping in the crate at night or where the crate was in our apartment. Which was NOT in our bedroom.
- And he’s showing me a leash that goes around his snout, and he REALLY doesn’t like that. I’m guessing it’s a gentle leader. – Yep, we were using a gentle leader because we had some trainer who suggested we try it and Oliver was hating the holy hell out of it. Also never mentioned that to her.
By the end of the first call, I was convinced that Mary was the real deal and was anxious to implement all of her suggestions. Spoiler alert: Everything she suggested we try just worked. After one 30-minute consultation for $60 bucks, I had my sweet angel dog back.
Throughout Oliver’s life, other issues would pop up here and there and every single time, we’d call Mary to navigate through them. She helped us through behavior problems, crate training and multiple moves, and each and every time, her advice was spot on. Part therapist, part behaviorist, part cheerleader…after so many years, she almost felt like a member of the family.
Two years ago, Oliver began showing signs of dementia. After our most recent move into our new home in Los Angeles, he had a complete breakdown. Much like a patient with Alzheimer’s, such a big change turned his entire world upside down. He began “sundowning” — sleeping during the day and staying up all night — pacing and drooling for hours, scratching at the door. He was unable to catch his breath while having crazed panic attacks that would sometimes last for hours.
When we celebrated Oliver’s 14th birthday, I knew it would be his last.
The decision to say goodbye to Oliver was one of the most devastating things I’ve ever gone through. My love for him was bigger than anything I could have imagined. But having the opportunity to say goodbye to him through Mary made all the difference in the world.
We asked her to tell him how much love and fun he brought into our lives and to thank him for making our time together so special. I wanted him to know that he was the one who really turned us into a family. I cried like a baby through the entire call.
She helped us understand that he felt ready to go, and that he knew that it was his time. He even requested that we take one last picture together as a family and insisted that we smile.
Oliver always was a bossy little dude.
(Photo courtesy of Erica Reitman)