Pet owners turning to psychics
It's the age-old and seemingly answerless question: What in the world is my dog thinking? And one that has spawned a growing market not only of scientific research but of everything from decks of pet tarot cards to television and radio shows and books by pet psychics and animal trainers.
Whether any one of them can ever provide real answers to what dogs are thinking or what drives their good or bad behaviour is a matter of opinion - or belief. But pet owners can spend a lot of time and money trying.
And even if they never find a real solution, people who love their dogs admit they can learn to better connect with their pets, or sometimes just have fun trying.
Andrea Gladstone and David Radis of Encino, Calif., wanted to know more about what was going on in their rescue dog's head, so they bought The Original Dog Tarot: Divine The Canine Mind, a set of 30 cards and guidebook that were developed by Heidi Schulman, a freelance writer and former television news producer who now lives in Santa Fe, N.M.
They spread the deck on the floor, then asked LoLa why she chewed up her puppy training book and the Dog Tarot guide.
The answers, they divined from the three cards she picked - The Cat, the Pack and Justice - was that she was insecure with her place in the new home and wrecked the books to establish her security and see if they held grudges.
Radis said his wife gave him the deck of cards as a gift.
"For me it is more the fun of it than the life lessons to be learned. But I respect the tarot," he said. "I have done one reading for each of my dogs and they were both spot on. I spread the cards out and ask the dog to touch the cards with their nose or paw."
But not everyone consults the latest books for gimmicks or fun. Cathy, an entertainment paralegal in California who asked that her last name not be used, called on pet psychic Jocelyn Kessler, author of the Secret Language of Dogs, to help her communicate with her 11-year-old lab Champ when he fell ill.
Kessler, she said, "communicated with him energetically so that she could not only learn what he needed through his veterinary care, but also to understand whether he wanted us to stop medical treatments."
Through Kessler, Cathy said, she was able to learn that Champ needed fewer injections, and she was able to surround him with his favourite plants in his final days.
There is no real research to show spending on dog mind-reading or behaviour-related services, but a report from the American Pet Products Association says Americans spent $53 billion US on their pets last year, including nearly $4 billion US on services not related to food, supplies or health care. That category, which includes grooming, pet-sitting and pampering, was the fastest growing, increasing 9.7 per cent over 2011. And it is forecast to remain the fastest growing.
For Schulman, development of the dog tarot was simply "to bring people closer to their animals."
She said she came up with the idea when she was ill, and cooped up in a small apartment with her beloved rescue dog, Bosco, who has since died.
"I noticed he was very tuned into me," she said. "He knew exactly when to leave me alone, when to bother me. We seemed to develop this non-verbal communication and he looked like he wanted to talk. ... I thought if he could speak, what would he say?
"I tried with logic. But I couldn't figure it out logically. So I thought, 'What if we could just invoke a little magic?" StarPheonix