If I had to guess what was on Ace’s mind at a given moment, here’s what I think it would be:
“Food. FOOD. How about some food? Got any food? Gimme food. I really like food. I like you, too, but I really like food. Is that food I smell? Perhaps you’d like to give me some. Is it time for food? Food. Food. Food.”
But, when it comes to the mysterious song that plays in his head — and I’m guessing it’s a song, for all I know it could be haiku – food would have to be the repeated refrain.
When, during our weeks in Cave Creek, Arizona, we sat down with animal communicator Debbie Johnstone of Listen 2 Animals – I sat down, anyway, Ace kind of wandered – I was hoping that he wouldn’t be so stuck on the chorus that the other lyrics couldn’t come through.
But they did. According to Debbie, Ace spoke to her – sometimes in words only she could hear, also by conveying images and feelings. Only a minute after we sat down, she’d gotten her first impressions of him:
Animals have spoken to Debbie since she was a toddler, she says. At first, she figured everybody could hear them. Born in West Virginia, and raised in Ohio, she didn’t have pets of her own, but she had long conversations with neighborhood animals – until her mother told her at age 7 that she was a big girl now and it was time to stop doing that.
So, for several decades, she did. She stopped acknowledging that she could hear what animals were thinking, and went on to become a computer programmer.
Her job with a major corporation brought her to Arizona in 1992, and she took on new responsibilities as she rose through the ranks — including laying off people. After 9/11, she found herself doing more and more of that, to the point it was making her physically ill.
“I said, ‘I can’t do this any longer,’” and with that she began searching for a new calling. While trying to figure out what that was, she started doing volunteer work at Arizona Equine Rescue, where she met a Shamanic healer who sensed she had the gift. With his help she enrolled in a course in animal communication and resumed talking to animals.
In 2003, she started her own company, Listen 2 Animals, where, in addition to serving as a translator between the human and animal worlds, she helps find lost animals, resolves animal-related conflicts and coaches humans on how to better communicate with their animals. Her sessions, with horses, cats and dogs, usually range from 15 minutes to an hour and run $30 to $90.
Debbie says the messages from animals come to her in different ways.
Sometimes she senses it. ”I’m empathic I can feel what the animal feels,” she said. Other times she might see a picture, experience a taste or smell, or hear a noise. Some of the information is conveyed to her through what she calls “thought drops,” which made me think of the comic strip device, where what one’s thinking appears in a cloud with dots leading down to the person’s head. Sometimes she hears words, as if they are actually talking. “Sometimes they just come right out and tell me. Sometimes animals know exactly what’s wrong and can tell you, other times they don’t know.”
Her clients range from people who want to know why their cat stopped using the litter box, to what the old dog thinks of a new dog in the house, or — most commonly — people seeking some guidance in making the decision to put an old, sick animal down.
Amost half of her calls are from people whose animals are “getting ready to transition” and want to know how the animal feels about it. More often than not — despite all the human angst – the dog or other animal in question is ready to proceed. “They’re not afraid of death,” she said.
Debbie met Ace and me in a fenced yard behind a store in Cave Creek. It was Ace’s second meeting with an animal communicator. (You can read about the first at the Baltimore Sun.)
The first thing Debbie did when Ace approached was seek permission from him. She says she always asks an animal first if she can communicate with them — “otherwise, it would be like walking into somebody’s house without knocking.”
I’d explained to Debbie that Ace had been traveling for seven months, and that I wanted to know what he thought of our nomadic lifestyle.
After relating her initial impressions, Debbie said Ace was communicating to her in words: “I actually heard the words, ‘This is what I was born to do.’
“He takes this very seriously,” she continued. “He really feels this is an assignment, or a job, if you will. He’s sharing a feeling of always moving, moving a lot … moving and freedom.” She compared how Ace feels with the feeling she had when she got out of the corporate world and started doing what she really wanted to do.
“Passionate, energized, that’s the feeling he gives me — that his life is about more than just going through the motions. He finds it joyful to met new people, go new places, see’s new things. He’s not tired, he finds it energizing … He likes doing different and new things … What’s really important to him is being with you.
“But still,” she added, “he’s looking forward to the day you get in one place, in a home.”
Debbie passed on some other information as well:
- Ace likes the color red.
- The chain link fence around the yard we were sitting in reminded him of his days in the shelter. She saw him as one of a litter of three, who was dropped off at the shelter by someone who didn’t speak English.
- Ace has some achiness in his left hip joint, but it’s not painful.
- Ace “thinks everybody really, really likes him.”
- Ace likes eggs, and would like to be served them more often.
- When I asked Debbie if Ace would prefer to eat twice a day, as he used to, or once a day, as he now does, she responded, “He wants to know if there’s a third choice.”
- Ace enjoys being a dog, she says, as most dogs do. “If we could feel about ourselves like our animals feel about themselves, we would be very, very free. They’re just pleased about who they are.”
Debbie said Ace doesn’t mind riding in the car (which is red, by the way). “It’s not something that bothers him because he likes to be with you. But he would like you to stop more often so he can get out and sniff and stretch. He likes to investigate and see new things.”
The last seven months have provided ample opportunity for that, and it was good to hear that — in her opinion — he didn’t consider our trip a total drag.
Debbie didn’t say that Ace was eager to get back to Baltimore. Even though he doesn’t speak to me in words, I think that’s a safe bet. I’m not certain whether that city will become home for me again, but according to Debbie, Ace already has that part figured out.
“Where you are, that’s home to him.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace talks, animal communicator, animals, arizona, cave creek, communicate, communicating with animals, debbie johnstone, dog, dogs, empathic, empathy, happy, home, horses, job, listen 2 animals, listen2animals, mind, mission, mystery, nomads, passionate, people, pets, phoenix, road, road trip, thinking, thoughts, traveling with dogs, travels, travels with ace, vagabonds, what dogs think
One of them was a puppy, a pit bull mix named Ash, who was featured in news reports and, after medical treatment and some time in foster care, adopted out to a new home.
The other was this fellow to your left, a one-year-old pug mix who has also recovered from his burns — though his back, too, remains scarred – but hasn’t gotten as much press as his partner.
Maybe it was because his pug-something mix didn’t have the media appeal of a pit bull. Maybe someone found his underbite, which makes him look a little like a miniature wolfman, camera-unfriendly.
When I ran into Wolfie, as he has been named, at an adoption event/fundraiser in Cave Creek, Arizona, Saturday, he seemed eager to flash his grin and happy to pose for my camera.
But, by weekend’s end and after appearing at two adoption events — one at For Goodness Sake, a thrift store in Cave Creek whose sales benefit animal rescue groups, another at an area pet store — Wolfie remained in need of a permanent home.
He’s an affectionate little dog who — though he still gets scared by strange objects and sudden motions — gets along well with both other dogs and humans, according to Paula Monarch, who’s serving as his foster mom through Little Rascals Rescue.
Wolfie has been in Paula’s care since September — about a month after he and Ash were found in South Phoenix, both with severe burns that were believed to have been caused by chemicals, acids or pool cleaners.
Officials suspect it was an intentional act, but no arrests have been made.
They’ve healed over and no longer cause him any pain, but because of the hairless streaks on his back, he’ll probably need to wear sun screen or a T-shirt if he spends much time outside.
Paula said she suspects Wolfie may have suffered other abuse, as well. He gets nervous when she picks up the remote control, and will scurry away with his tail between his legs.
Before long, though, he’s over it and cuddling again.
Already, the tale of Wolfie is a brighter one than that of a Phoenix, a pit bull who was set on fire in Baltimore last year. Despite a valiant fight, she died several days later, but her case led to an ongoing re-examination of how best to fight animal cruelty in the city.
Wolfie made no headlines, and he’s still waiting for that one person or family who see courage in his bald spots, beauty in his underbite, and will ensure the next chapter of his story is a happy one.
If you’re interested in adopting Wolfie, email email@example.com, or call Jen at 623-210-6578, Ryan at 623-606-4855, or Patti at 602-943-7059.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, acid, adopt, adoptable, animals, arizona, ash, burned, burns, cave creek, chemical, coverage, dog needs home, dogs, ending, for goodness sake, happy, home, little rascals rescue, mix, news, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pug, rescue, rescued, rescues, shelter, wolfie
After three weeks of searching for his lost pit bull CinnaBun, TV personality and motorcycle-maker Jesse James has been reunited with the dog.
James, who is CEO of West Coast Choppers and the husband of actress Sandra Bullock, posted the news on his Twitter page yesterday and his website, along with photos of CinnaBun putting her paws up to his chest.
Here’s his tweet: “So Happy! Thnx Everyone for all the help! She looks like she hz had quite the Adventure!”
James had hired a pet detective and offered a reward of $5,000 for the dog’s return after she went missing Jan. 25. According to TMZ, James got a call from someone who had seen CinnaBun’s picture on a flier.
The woman brought CinnaBun, who’d lost 15 pounds during her time away, to James’s Long Beach bike shop.
(Photo: West Coast Choppers)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cinnabun, dog, dogs, found, happy, jesse james, lost, motorcycles, news, personality, pets, pitbull, returned, reunion, reunited, sandra bullock, search, television, tv, tweet, twitter, west coast choppers
Your dog may soon be tweeting.
Japan’s Index Corp., a mobile content provider, plans to launch an iPhone adaptation of the “Bowlingual” dog emotion translator that it says will translate dog barks into English and tweet them out to the world.
The original Bowlingual device, first offered in 2002 by Takara Tomy, consists of a microphone that goes around the dog’s neck and a handheld receiver with LCD screen that gives a written readout of the emotion a dog’s bark is expressing: sad, frustrated, needy, happy, on guard and “self-expressive.”
(That last one puzzles me. I wouldn’t consider it an emotion, and it seems any bark would be self expressive. Then again, maybe something is getting lost in translation.)
The Japanese company plans to launch the new iPhone app this summer, PCWorld reports.
Index is planning to charge $4.99 for the app, said Sonoko Tatsuno, a spokeswoman for the company in Tokyo — considerably cheaper than the $229 stand-alone version. A Japanese version of the new app will come out first, followed by an English version.
In addition to translating a dog’s bark, the software can capture a picture of the dog, using the iPhone’s built-in camera. The resulting picture can then be combined with the “translation” and sent directly from the iPhone to Twitter.
The original product proved to be a hit in Japan selling around 300,000 units, It was also put on sale in the U.S. and South Korea.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 10th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ap, app, application, barks, bowlingual, device, dog, dogs, emotions, frustrated, happy, index corp. takara tomy, iphone, japan, japanese, needy, networking, on guard, pets, sad, social, technology, translate, translator, tweet, tweeting, twitter
Today we begin our Christmas countdown — an eclectic mix of videos that will serve as our way of wishing you the happiest of holidays.
Of course, we’ll still be bringing you dog news as well this week — along with some possible posts related to my Christmas guests, all of whom are canines. In addition to my dog Ace, I’ll be hosting three other dogs this week whose owners are off to visit family.
There’s Lucas — an old yellow Lab who huffs, puffs and dawdles almost as much as me on his walks in the park. There’s Darcy, a young Boston terror, I mean terrier, who is a perpetually bouncing bundle of energy. And there’s Cheyenne, a sweet 11-year-old yellow Lab who, though bred to be a guide dog, didn’t make the cut, then at age 5 began going blind herself.
The more the merrier, I figured.
But back to our holiday greetings. We’ll be bringing you one a day all week, starting with this vintage R.O. Blechman animation that CBS aired in 1966 as a Christmas message to viewers.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 21st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animation, blind, boston terrier, cbs, cheyenne, christmas, darcy, dogs, guests, guide dog, happy, holiday, holidays, lucas, news, ohmidog!, seasons greetings, video, videos, visitors, yellow lab
The special bond between an elephant and a dog in Tennessee has captured the attention of humans — if the number of web hits I’ve been getting since posting Steve Hartman’s CBS News report is any indication.
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has been flooded as well — “with high fives and uncounted media offers,” according to its website.
Tarra, an elephant, and Bella, a stray dog the sanctuary took in, have enjoyed each other’s company for years. When Bella suffered a spinal cord injury a few months ago, Tarra — despite having 2,700 acres to roam, stood vigil outside the sanctuary office, where Bella was recuperating.
The CBS report didn’t provide any details of how Bella was injured, but that’s addressed on the sanctuary’s website.
“Since Bella and Tarra’s recent television exposure, a lot of people have asked how the spinal injury happened. When Bella was found in a shallow ravine in the elephant habitat, unable to walk, she was rushed to the veterinary hospital. X-rays revealed that she had sustained a spinal injury. The absence of deep tissue damage and puncture wounds led the veterinarian to surmise that Bella’s spinal injury was the result of an awkward twist, most likely sustained when she was running and jumping over something.”
Also on the website is the video above, filmed before the CBS visit, which we provide for those of you can’t get enough of this inter-species love story.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: bella, cbs, dog, dog and elephant, elephant, elephant and dog, elephant sanctuary, explanation, friends, happy, injury, interspecies, love, news, ohmidog!, report, spinal, steve hartman, tarra, tennessee, video
Other than humans, who aren’t always real good at it, dogs are the only animals that can read emotion in human faces, scientists at England’s University of Lincoln claim.
Their research findings suggest (as most any dog owner knows) that dogs can see at a glance if we are happy, sad, pleased or angry.
According to the study, dogs, like humans, have developed something called “left gaze bias,” wherein, when we’re looking at a person’s face, our eyes wander left and examine the right hand side of that face.
Scientists believe the right side of the human face expresses emotions more accurately and more intensely, and that humans, stupid as we otherwise are, have figured that out, if only on a subconscious level.
Helfpul tip: If you’re having trouble figuring out which side of the face you’re looking at is which, think of the right hand side as the passenger side, the left hand side as the driver side. If you’re still confused, remember that the right side of the person’s face you’re looking at would be on your left, unless of course a mirror is involved. If you’re even more confused now, and getting angry about it, have your dog look at the right (passenger, unless you’re in Europe) side of your face. If he sulks and walks away with his tail between his legs, you are indeed angry.
But back to the study, which showed that dogs exhibit ”left gaze bias,” but only when looking at human faces. No other animal has been known to display this behavior before.
In the research, a team led by Dr. Kun Guo showed 17 dogs images of human, dog and monkey faces as well as inanimate objects.
Film of the dogs’ eye and head movement exhibited a strong left gaze bias (not to be confused with left wing bias) when the animals were presented with human faces. But this did not occur when they were shown other images, including those of dogs.
Guo believes that, over the centuries they’ve been associated with humans, dogs have evolved the left gaze bias as a way to gauge our emotions.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: angry, animals, behavior, canine, dog, dogs, emotions, expressions, faces, feelings, happy, left gaze bias, news, pleased, read, recognition, recognize, sad, science, study, university of lincoln