By Barbara Janelle M.A.

Previously unpublished

The following are exerpts from notes and comments to students that I have made over the past few years.


In almost every instance of communication, some confirmation of its truth usually comes. Of the thousands of instances, some stand out very clearly. One was the miniature apricot poodle who rushed up to me, looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m a Star!” I laughed and told the owner what she had said. The owner gasped and said, “I always tell her she is a star!”

A cat sent me the sound of a piano and a body-felt feeling of music. I said to the owner, she likes to play the piano, and it was true. They had a piano and every evening the cat would walk up and down on the keys!

An English Bulldog marched up to me, without preamble, and said, “Tell him we share one heart.” That information hit home so deeply with the owner that he returned to it again and again. Eventually it enabled him to release the dog before its cancer became agonizing.


The aspects of trying too hard and then not trusting what comes, or indeed not recognising it when it comes, are primary issues in communication. In my experience, information usually comes quickly and often involves humour or something unexpected. It seldom comes in the fashion that I expect it to, and the topic is frequently different than the one I have posed. Just like a politician, an animal does not feel compelled to answer the question that is asked!


Asking generic questions is very useful because they reduce your assumptions and expectations. So seeing the beauty in the animal as the opening handshake, and then asking, “Would you tell (show) me something that you would like me to know?” often leads to profound communication.


I wrote this to a former student. “I was delighted that you got the basic concepts of respect, empathy and awareness that I was trying to get across in the basic level course. From these all else comes.

In your relationship with Molly, you are recognizing the power of her communication and that it exceeds mere words. She cares about you. She is committed to you and to your well being.

While at the level of living in a physical body, she may be dealing with fears of abandonment based on past experiences, what she is working with from the aspect of magnificent spiritual being in a dog body is far greater: she is manifesting love. Love is the most important message of all. That is the power and profundity of ‘Dog.’”


A few weeks ago I was working with a friend, Mary Merchant, who had just buried her dog. Mary had been with Tide when he was born, cared for him during his long life and held him in her arms when he died. When I work with people around the death of an animal, I am trying to ask questions that lead them to recognize how much the animal brought to them. As we were nearing a finish, Mary summarized her recognition of Tide’s gifts this way:

“As Tide appears at heaven’s gate, St. Peter asks, ‘What did your owner teach you in this lifetime?’

Tide responds happily, ‘She taught me to do a very straight sit!’

‘And what did you teach your owner in this lifetime?’ St. Peter asks.

Tide says, ‘I taught her about birth and death. I taught her about the importance of being. And I taught her about love.’”