06/27/12: I shift from side to side, grab hold of a pillow, hugging it tight, roll on my back, take a deep breath, and open my eyes wide to watch the ceiling fan spin around in the darkness. My body is tight and cramped. I slowly scan it, wondering if it is my pain from working out or if it is an animal’s pain trapped in my body from a session earlier in the day. It is 1 a.m., and I have the futures of a few animals on my mind.

Laura Stinchfield

I think about Chico, the sweet, 5-year-old pit bull who has been trapped in Camarillo Animal Regulation Shelter for the past two months. His people lost their home, and his doggie sister has been euthanized because she did not kennel well. Yesterday he had red on his cage meaning he is scheduled to be euthanized. I have never met him in person, but I have spoken to him. In my conversation with him, he mentioned, “I would even like to be friends with a chicken.”

Little did we all know that this statement would save his life. An animal rescuer begging another shelter to save Chico, in a last-ditch attempt said, “Fine, don’t take him, but how many pit bulls do you know that want to make friends with a chicken?” A half-hour later a family calls that shelter looking for a pit bull who is good with chickens.


Chico is getting out, and I pray now that he will be good with the chickens and his prey instinct will not kick in. I talk to him now, in the middle of the night, him at the shelter and me in my bed, explaining chicken behavior and how important it is for him to be well behaved and friendly.

Then there is the cat that is hiding under the neighbor’s house, sharing her food with a fox. She is 2 years old, with tortoise coloring and the cutest little wide eyes I have ever seen. When I first spoke to her a year ago, she talked about her fears. A few days ago, the family fostered a dog that scared her. So she ran away, hiding on the perimeter of the property.


The foster dog is now gone. I thought I had convinced this little cat to go home. I was sure of it. But there has been no sighting of her, and the thunderstorms have been heavy. Bravery is hard to summon up for all of us sometimes. I have known too many cats that get scared and disappear. What exactly do I say to summon up her courage to go home? I thought I knew, and I was convinced I succeeded. I imagine her safe at home. I am reminded why I don’t usually talk to lost animals. I worry too much about them.

Then there is a horse whose owner doesn’t believe me that the bit hurts her horse’s mouth. What does this mean for the horse? What does it mean for their relationship? Why is it that sometimes I feel that my gift, talking to the animals, is a curse? Why would a higher power bring me into an animal’s life if I can’t make a difference with the relationship between owner and animal? Is this some sort of test? What am I supposed to learn? Am I supposed to back off and not tell the owner whenever the horse tells me something? Is it too overwhelming for someone who doesn’t even know me and didn’t seek me out? Should I stay involved, or should I go?

I am reminded that if I don’t know what to do, to wait until I do. So many animals need help. Where is my energy needed the most? I have been doing this long enough to know that, if I am getting drained, something’s got to give so that I can keep going. Maybe I am just focusing on the hard cases. Maybe I should read some thank-you emails. Refocus myself so I can sleep.

I open up my emails to find two new ones from the same day. During my work day, I had spoken to a mother and her daughter who’d lost their dog Maggie very suddenly. Maggie said a lot, but one of the things she mentioned was that she was in heaven with her person’s grandma, and the grandma wanted her granddaughter to make potato salad with lots mayonnaise.

I received these emails after the session:

Hi Laura,

I wanted to thank you again for today. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Kylie was sure it would help. I’m grateful for my thoughtful and loving daughter. Today’s meeting has given me some peace. I still of course miss Maggie, but knowing she is with me always is a comfort. It was also a wonderful surprise learning she is with my grandma Betty 🙂

The potato salad comment from today’s session had me perplexed. So, I talked to my mom today. I did not mention the session. I simply asked her if Grandma Betty (her mother) had any good recipes that she remembers. She said that grandma was not much of a cook; however, she was known for her German potato salad!!! You have an amazing gift. Thank you for sharing it with us. All the best, Brandi (Pet parent to Maggie and Penny)

And from her daughter:

Laura, you are such an amazing person with such an amazing gift! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your help. You have given us the greatest gift that not everyone knows they have the privilege of receiving. I cannot tell you how much you’ve helped us. We will definitely keep in touch, and I will tell everyone about your amazing gift. Everyone should have the chance to experience what my mom and I have experienced. All the best, Kylie

Maybe I am helping people and their animals. Maybe I can sleep now.


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