My companion rabbit is not particularly fond of what we refer to as “cooking sounds.”
My wife and I aren’t sure why this is, and for the past six years, we’ve been assuring Annabell that she isn’t in danger. I mean, she doesn’t even venture into the kitchen.
But from the safety of the living room, if she hears the pre-heated oven beep, the heating element click when the temperature fluctuates, sizzling vegetables or someone chopping an onion a little too loudly, she becomes terribly frightened.
If you live with a companion animal long enough, you develop a rapport with them. They understand when it’s time to go for a walk, time for a treat, or time to turn in for the night. You try your hardest to understand why they’re upset, your intuition kicks in if they aren’t feeling well, and you can’t help but smile when you see them excited about something.
What happens when your companion animal is telling you something that you can’t understand?
The concept of “animal communication” is exactly what it sounds like, and Kathy Van Guilder, Dawn Huebner, and Erica Pointer Kobett are among those working in the Twin Cities area as animal communicators.
The three women say they’ve been aware of their deeper connection with animals since they were young.
“My first communication experience was with a bird in my backyard who was watching me dig up worms,” Huebner recalled. “I was so excited, I ran into the house to tell my mom all about it, and she lovingly responded, ‘We don’t talk about those things.’”
Huebner said she remained quiet about her experiences, thinking it was something everyone could do but simply didn’t discuss.
Van Guilder had a similar childhood experience. Her family wasn’t open to anything that was “beyond the physical,” she said. “It was not acceptable to be sensitive to an animal’s feelings and thoughts.”
Those early instances eventually led to lengthy careers in this field—Pointer Kobett has been a professional communicator for six years, Huebner 12 years, and Van Guilder for over 15.
There is more to animal communication than esoteric childhood experiences and a fondness for animals; both Pointer Kobett and Huebner enrolled in either classes or training programs to validate and verify their work.
“It gave me the courage to actually claim to be able to communicate with animals,” Pointer Kobett said of the class.
The Animal’s Higher Self
So how does this work, exactly?
Huebner believes animal communication is much like any other skill or talent.
“Anyone can learn to communicate with animals,” she said. “Yet to do it professionally, one needs to have a natural gift along with many, many hours of practice.”
Pointer Kobett said it includes listening, then asking questions and making sure the connection to the animal sits well within her. “It’s like a chat with the animal’s higher self.”
Van Guilder, Pointer Kobett, and Huebner use a mixture of in-person, face-to-face, phone and email to communicate with their clients, many of which are in the Twin Cities area. Photographs along with information about the animal’s past and personality are helpful when communicating via email or the phone.
The animal’s energy also is important in the communication process. Van Guilder said early in her process of becoming an animal communicator, she worked with intuitive energy healers.
“I learned more about myself, and the idea that everything and everyone is connected,” she said.
“Consider how cell phones work,” she said. “With signals you can’t hear, see or feel that travel over vast distances in seconds. With animal communication, it’s an energy connection that works in a similar way, yet instead of a phone number, I use an animal’s photo to make the connection.”
All three communicators have experienced myriad situations and circumstances when working with clients. Behavioral problems and end-of-life issues are among the most common and difficult.
“I had to pass along the message that a very old, very loved bunny had come to the end of its 11-year journey,” said Pointer Kobett. “She just wanted her humans to be okay. So often, it’s about their fear of leaving their loved people behind to grieve. [The animals] just need to know it is okay to leave.”
Van Guilder said an animal’s behavioral issue is often a mirror to something its human is going through.
“A woman’s cat recently told me that she didn’t like her human’s boss, and that her human needed to look for new work,” she said. “The cat was so upset that her human was being mistreated, and the client confirmed her work situation was not positive and that her boss was disrespectful. But her response to her cat’s message was that she couldn’t possibly know anything about her work life because she had never been to her work, or met her boss.”
Missing or lost animal cases are also common, and Huebner said those are her most challenging to work with.
“Emotions run high, they’re very time consuming, and have no guarantee of success,” she said. “As a result only a small percentage of animal communicators handle them, yet I’ve had a lot of success with these cases.”
Pointer Kobett said that through her communication work, she can be “overwhelmed by each little soul,” adding that she is honored to be able to speak with her clients and learn from them.
“There is a connection between all of us,” she said. “If I can help build a deeper connection full of joy and gratitude between an animal and their human, then I, too, am grateful.”
Both Huebner and Van Guilder echoed those sentiments.
“I continue to do this work because animals need a voice, and quite often, their life depends on it,” said Huebner. “Healthy animals are being rehomed, abandoned, and euthanized at alarming rates, often because of behavior or health issues, and lack of understanding between animals and humans.”
“Pets want so much for their needs, desires and wisdom to be heard,” added Van Guilder. “It is very difficult for them when the human doesn’t want to hear it.”
Communicate with the Communicators
Kathy Van Guilder: www.kathyvanguilder.com
Dawn Heubner: www.animalpsyche.com
Erica Pointer Kobett: www.ericasheartspark.massagetherapy.com/animal-communication
Kevin Krein is a cool rabbit dad and shelter cat socializer living in Northfield. Since 2013, he’s operated the award winning music blog Anhedonic Headphones. He occasionally takes pictures of cats and his rabbit, and puts them the internet: @KevEFly (Twitter) or @kev_e_fly (Instagram.)