I've always been a little woo-woo. From my vantage point, the best mornings start with oat milk coffee plus a tarot card pull, and crystals must be charged under the full moon lest they lose their power. My 4-year-old pit mix, Jasper, is also subjected to my witchy ways. He takes herbal treatments for his joints and has been saged in clearing rituals. Recently, I went even further down the mystical rabbit hole and booked a session with a pet psychic.
What began as a silly idea to learn more about the animal that sleeps on my couch and thinks he's entitled to my leftovers ended with deeper reflection on how I can learn to trust my intuition again and build a life I'm proud of - accepting the work and sacrifice required to get there.
Last year, on a (COVID-safe!) trip to Palm Springs, I sat on a lounge chair in the blazing desert sun next to my friend Miguel while he recounted the story of losing his dear Dalmatian, Buddy. As pet owners, we inherently know that our beloved sidekicks will one day leave us. Yet, when the time comes to pass them off from this life into the next, practicality disappears and is replaced by deep loss. It's a cliché for a reason - they really are family.
In Buddy's final months, Miguel contacted Rose Proud, an animal communicator based in Hendersonville, NC. Over their phone sessions, Rose translated Buddy's pain and symptoms to Miguel. She reassured him that Buddy wasn't scared to leave this life, but excited to enter his new one. For an animal, there is little fear in death. Of course, this story wrecked me. I needed to talk to Rose.
In October 2017, my ex and I spotted Jasper (née Count Dracula) sitting on the sidewalk of an adoption fair in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There was something about his unflinching stare that made me think, This dog has seen some sh*t, whether in this lifetime or a previous one. We bonded quickly and he showed me a New York I had never experienced before - sunrise walks through Central Park, the joy of fresh snow, and the sheer number of chicken bones littering the streets.
Then, I was comforted by his presence as my life imploded around me. Over the course of 18 months I called off my wedding, left New York, started living alone, went into COVID lockdown, lost one job, and started another. He curled up in my lap and brought me his favorite toy, a stuffed dinosaur, to comfort me when I cried. I was never alone with Jasper there. But, what did he think of everything we had been through? Was he happy in our new home? Did he trust me? What was his life like before we met in Brooklyn? Why did he love almost every dog, but growl at huskies? And what was all the staring about?
The night of my call with Rose, I bribed Jasper with a new toy and extra treats to say nice things about me. She called at 6 o'clock on the dot and we started with a heart-opening meditation. As Jasper slept next to me on the couch, I had one hand on my heart chakra and the other on his. Though I tried to stay present and calm my mind, the badgering voice in my head went wild with worry. Maybe I didn't want to hear what Jasper had to say.
Rose was quiet. "I'm listening," she said. "Jasper's energy is fluctuating." I held my breath with anticipation. Another long pause. "Jasper feels like you haven't settled in your new home. That this might not be the place you're meant to be long-term." Rose continued, "He wants you to accept where you are right now instead of waffling." Damn, Jasper. Hit me where it hurts.
But it was true. And suddenly, I was spilling my heart to Rose. About how I had existed in survival mode for so long, I no longer trusted my intuition. How I was scared to make another big change, so staying put while constantly questioning it felt safe for now. And how I put other people ahead of myself so no one abandons me. "But will Jasper be happy moving again?" I asked.
"He will adapt quickly. He's happy when you're happy," Rose said. She went on to tell me that Jasper had blocks in his first and second chakras from his puppy days. He showed Rose images of himself wandering along railroad tracks and abandoned warehouses - a lonely dog likely dumped or born to a stray. Then, she saw a building filled with barking dogs in cages and the sickening chemical smell of cleaning products, as a man with a mop screamed at them to shut up. I hugged Jasper closer as he wiggled to free himself from my too-tight love grip. "He's very inquisitive," I said. "Always staring at me, especially when I do yoga in the apartment."
"For Jasper, this lifetime is all about observing and learning," Rose said. "He senses a mind-body disconnect when you're practicing yoga, like you're going through the motions, but your mind is consumed with other things. He wants you to be present, to be sure of yourself."
Jasper acknowledged the messy, secret parts of me that I work to ignore: the loneliness, insecurity, anxiety, and disappointments. Yet, there was no judgment. He was letting me know that he sees my inner struggles and carries my emotional burdens, too, because that's how much he loves me.
Rose instructed me to practice positive visualization and acknowledge my intentions, both to Jasper and myself. If my intuition feels untrustworthy, I can ask the universe for signs, journal, and meditate. I'm allowed to take my time to make thoughtful decisions and can plan for the life I want while embracing the one I have now. Oh, and what about the huskies? "Jasper gets snippy with dogs who act too alpha," Rose said. "Doesn't like their attitudes."