Questions from the Book Fair, Part 1

“Can you talk to my dead dog?”

“Do animals have souls and are they the same kind as human souls?”

Two days of meet and greet at the Berkeley Book Fair pushed my boundaries in new directions – well out of my comfort zone! Most interesting were the patrons. I watched passers-by study the banner hanging from the front of my half of the table like an enlarged business card: Animal Chaplain – Interfaith Minister, Pet Loss Bereavement Counselor, Intuitive Animal Communicator, Animal Reiki. One or another of those lines drew people in to ask questions.

Many just wanted to share their story about the death of a loved animal. It can be healing to have someone listen and validate that grief over a pet’s death is as strong as, and often deeper than, grief over a human loss. Probably half of the exchanges I had with people over those two days were on-the-spot brief pet loss counseling sessions. It helps so much to be heard, and understood. I thought, perhaps this is why I’m here, even though I did sell a few copies of my book, Hand in Paw.

Some of the other questions were for clarity, and others were challenges. Here are some of them, and my attempts at answers:

Can you talk to my dead dog?

Yes, if the animal is willing. The soul/spirit being lives on after the body dies, much like energy can change form but not be destroyed. The love and connection live on after the body dies.

Do you have a position on veganism?

It’s a personal choice. Refraining from eating other animals may be the ideal, but some are unable – for any number of reasons or circumstances – to do that. In David Michie’s book, The Dalai Lama’s Cat, the HH Dalai Lama character gives a wonderful explanation, reminding his questioner that life forms also are harmed in the cultivation of vegetables. In the web of life, all things are connected. For me, the essential part is gratitude and giving thanks for the sacrifices and contributions of what we consume.

Do animals have souls, and are they the same kind as human souls?

My understanding is that all beings have energy, spiritual essence, and are on a soul growth path of their own. It has been my experience talking with animals-in-spirit that a being can be born into bodies of different species – including human – depending on the lessons they need to learn (or help others learn). I don’t get that there are kinds of souls, but there are degrees of experience and training, and different learning paths. So, yes. For me, a soul is a soul.

Is animal Reiki different from human Reiki and if so, how?

Reiki is universal healing energy, so the energy itself is the same. The application differs, though. Animals are more sensitive than humans, and have larger energy fields surrounding them. With animal Reiki, the practitioner doesn’t “do” Reiki but offers it hands-off from an ego-neutral space. The animal may invite physical contact, such as coming close and indicating it would like touch, but the benefit is the same either way. The animal can accept as much or as little as it wants. That is why it works so well from a distance – the animal can be in the same room or halfway around the globe.

How would you handle an alcoholic German shepherd who’s a mean drunk?

My first response to this question was a startled “alcohol is toxic for dogs.” Recovering slightly, I said that I’d work closely with a veterinarian, approaching the situation as one would with an alcoholic human. I’d talk with the dog (and its human!) to try to discern the underlying reasons for the behavior. When this questioner passed by again, I learned this was a test question, based on the [incorrect] urban myth that Baron von Richthofen‘s dog was addicted to beer. I later did some research and learned that the Red Baron’s dog was neither German shepherd nor beer addict. I can hear the questioner chuckling over tossing me a good one!

In short, some questions came from intellectual curiosity, a desire for information, from heart and soul yearning, and from an “I don’t believe in this and am going to test you” stance. It’s all okay, and helps me grow into being clearer, more succinct, and faster on my feet.

The Fair provided a flow of interaction. Fascinating talks with other authors, trading marketing tips and techniques, observing others’ different levels of confidence with this sort of endeavor. Gratitude to tablemate Marietta Harris and to my granddaughter, outgoing Katy, for their help and support.

The sensory experience was rich, as well. Clouds and fog covered our little street until some bundled in parkas and hoodies. From sailing on San Francisco Bay, I knew afternoon winds would blow clouds away, then it would be sunny. What came was more like a gale, sending us scrambling for heavy objects to hold down cards and flyers. Later we unpacked the big umbrellas we’d put away when it was windy, to shade us from the heat. As close as Berkeley comes to seasons – all in one day.

More of the questions next time.

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