Editing the coming issue of my journal Recovering the Self, which is themed “animals and healing”, I read the interesting and thought-provoking article by Bernie Siegel, M.D. In his article, called “Communicating with the Animals”, Bernie Siegel tells about the verbal as well as non-verbal communication between him and his pets and relates it to the process of healing. To learn more about the topic, I contacted the doctor for a short interview and had a very interesting correspondence about pets and interacting with them through language.
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Ernest: Bernie, we usually think of pets as capable of understanding a little of our language, which is what we train them in. But your article in Recovering the Self sounds like you’re saying our pets understand a lot more of our language. Could you please explain this a little?
Bernie: Consciousness is non-local and does not depend on words to communicate. They know what we are thinking and words are not the issue. Dreams and drawings communicate too through symbols with meaning. An example: I wanted to take two outdoor cats to our vet, so I made an early morning appointment planning to capture them when they showed up for breakfast, as they did every day when I appeared. After arranging this with the vet, the cats did not appear for one week. I apologized and told the vet to cancel our morning plan. The next morning the two cats were waiting for breakfast. That is no coincidence. When I plan to groom all our pets they disappear and when I give up hope, they all come out of hiding.
Ernest: And our pets do talk back to us, right?
Bernie: Animal intuitives can diagnose an animal’s physical health problems by listening to the animals. Again, you quiet your mind and listen for their information to come to you. If I can’t find a cat, I stop and quiet my mind, not yelling the cat’s name, and focus on connecting with the cat and then I get the message and go to that room or outside door and find the cat. I mentioned in my article in Recovering the Self how our house rabbit talked to me and one cat climbs fences and escapes from the front yard. At night, I stand in the house and send her a message about my fear for her spending the night in the woods when she could spend it in bed with us. Shortly after, she’s at the door waiting to come in.
Ernest: So this kind of interaction with pets makes treating the pets easier through any disease or trauma?
Bernie: Yes, as I mentioned, you can send them thought messages letting them know it is okay to leave their body if they are in pain or disabled and no longer enjoying their physical body. Many pets die on meaningful days like special holidays and birthdays, so they won’t be forgotten. When I performed wound care or minor surgery, I would always apologize for any pain I was causing the animal and they would lick my hand and not bite me out of anger due to the pain. They are also far more forgiving than people are of human beings and other animals. Our dog Furphy grabbed our rabbit Smudge as if she were a toy and hurt her. A week later when I was looking to bring her in, she ran and hid by his side hoping I wouldn’t see her. That impressed me and taught me a lot about how complete animals are while man is still learning.
Ernest: And this kind of interaction is also helpful in helping pet owners to heal better or faster from a disease?
Bernie: A study revealed that after a heart attack, if you went home to a house with a dog, there was a 5% mortality rate after 12 months. In a house with no dog, a 26% mortality rate existed at 12 months. When you pet a furry creature, your bonding hormones, oxytocin and serotonin, rise. Walking their dog helps single women find mates. Pets also know when death or recovery is imminent and have helped families and nursing home staff know which way things were going. When the family dog no longer sits at dad’s bedside but comes to the kitchen for a snack, dad is getting better. I don’t make up any of these stories or comments. They are from my experience. Our cat Miracle also protected me and would stay awake when I had a very long car ride to be sure I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel. She sat between me and the driver door on a platform I built for her. I also entered her in out town’s dog show and told the people she thinks she is a dog and I didn’t want her feelings hurt. She had no fear of all the dogs who surrounded her and got lots of attention. The next year the sign read: Dog Show For Dog’s Only.
Ernest: As a pet owner, do you feel having pets in family improves relations with our family members?
Bernie: Having pets in the house helps everyone have a reverence for life. Our house was a zoo and we broke many zoning laws but no one ever reported us because they felt the love and learned from our pets about life. I made sure each child was an expert in the area of knowledge required for the creatures they adopted and we all lived with. Every creature had a name and was family. One day our five kids were driving me crazy and I asked, “How come five kids can’t get along as well as a hundred animals?” Their answer impressed me, “Because they are all the same color inside.” I still rescue earthworms from the pavement as Schweitzer did. Also relationships keep us alive and our lives meaningful. I had patients who didn’t die because they had too many pets to try to find homes for. It’s why women live longer than men with the same health problems.
Bernie: Buddy’s Candle, written to help people cope with the loss of a beloved pet or family member, was published several years ago and copies can be obtained via my website www.berniesiegelmd.com. My book Smudge Bunny, about how difficulties can become blessing, is a true story about a rabbit we rescued from the woods, and that became our house rabbit, has few printed copies left and will be available via electronic books only. Smudge would jump up on the sofa, grab the book I was reading in her teeth, and throw it on the floor, then roll over and tell me to rub her tummy.
Ernest: Any message for our readers?
Bernie: Live by your experience and do not let limited beliefs alter your life experience. To me, animal communication seemed an insane idea, years ago; but my experience altered my life and my beliefs.
Ernest: Thank you very much Bernie for this chat and sharing your knowledge!