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Talking with the Animals
Gaye Rock is Silver City's own Dr. Doolittle

Where Everything Has a Story
Author Denise Chávez is a whirlwind of cross-cultural creativity

This Little Non-Piggy
Despite appearances, the javelina is not a pig


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About the cover

  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e  December 2010

Talking with the Animals

Gaye Rock, Silver City's own Dr. Doolittle, helps humans understand what goes on in animal minds.

Story and photos by Donna Clayton Walter

I write my questions on an index card: Do you miss Daddy? Do you miss the old house? Do you like it when Daddy brings your brother to visit?

ms doolittle
Using body language, energy and telepathic messages, animal communicator Gaye Rock "speaks" with a dog.

No, I'm not a single mother trying to put together a new life for my child after a major change to our life and family. These are the questions I am giving to animal communicator Gaye Rock to ask my beloved dog, Homer.

This sweet border-collie cross, just one year old and the apple of my eye, has lately been refusing her breakfast. She is terrified of storm grates — so much so that she tugged until she slipped her collar rather than come within 10 feet of a storm sewer on Market Street. Once an eager and cooperative puppy on car rides, she now balks at the word "up" — her command word to get into the car — and once in the car whimpers on the floor on the passenger side, seeming to want to hide under the seat. Lately, she seems to mope.

And so, on the recommendation of a friend who calls Rock "the real deal," a miracle worker who helped my friend's household pack of three dogs find the way to peaceful coexistence, I am jotting down questions, hoping to find answers to the unsettling recent changes in Homer's behavior. Most of all, I want someone to help me find out what I can do to make this puppy dog happy again.

Okay, this is my first canine companion in 25 years, so I may be a little rusty at being a dog Mama. But Homer and I (along with her doting "Daddy") went through puppy class together. Homer proved herself to be a quick learner, eager to please, and I became adept at reading her signals — ear movements, whines and barks, eye contact.

With changes in her human parents' situation, marked especially by the move to Mommy's new house, however, Homer's recent behavior leaves me at a loss, feeling like I don't understand her. And, as some women do when Life changes in big ways and little eyes look to them for assurance, I worry about my four-legged baby's sense of security.

So I make an appointment with Gaye Rock. I've been telling Homer for a couple of days that a nice lady is coming to our house to talk with us. When I hear Rock's car pull into my driveway, I put on a happy face and animatedly tell Homer that our company has arrived.

With an open, bright smile and sweet, friendly voice, Rock says hello. Homer, at first, is her normal friendly, jumping-up self, but when Rock addresses her directly, the pup hides behind my skirt like a shy toddler.

Standing at my kitchen counter, Rock looks over my index card of questions and explains the process of what we will do over the next hour or so. She then invites Homer to sit on the couch with her. Homer's not having it. The dog looks away, skitters out of reach, hides behind me. Rock suggests I join her on the couch so Homer can be near me. After some coaxing, Homer sits a little uncomfortably between Rock and me, mostly leaning into my thigh.

I try to stay out of the "conversation" that ensues, as Rock chooses one question after another from my list and looks at Homer to communicate with her silently. To get the dog's attention, Rock coos encouraging things like, "Look at me, Sweetie," sometimes stroking Homer gently under the chin to focus the dog's attention. Looks go back and forth; mostly Homer tries to look away. I know it is against a dog's nature to hold extended eye contact with humans — they interpret it as threatening — but border collies control sheep by staring them down, and Homer has more tendency than some dogs to look humans in the eye. Also, as I was informed in puppy class, Homer responds to the fact that I tend to hold eye contact, and so this has become part of our communication.

Rock goes back and forth, looking at the questions and getting Homer's attention. She takes notes on the telepathic messages she is apparently getting back from the dog.

At one point, Rock pauses from the "reading" and says directly to me, "Oh, this is very sad. She's so afraid of losing you." Rock explains that since so much in my life has changed, Homer is afraid I'll think she doesn't fit any more and that I'm going to give her away. "She even asked me if I am going to take her to my house to live," Rock says. Concerned over Homer's obvious distress — the dog now is burrowing into my lap, refusing to even look at Rock — she offers Homer some Reiki energy healing.

Rock offers Reiki to both two-legged and four-legged clients at her Silver City downtown business, The Rock Center. She also teaches classes and does animal grooming.

Homer seems to relax with the Reiki, causing my own heart to ease, as well. Disturbed that my beloved dog could even think that I'd give her away, I implore Rock to please assure Homer that she and I are a "forever family." Rock does so and the dog instantly relaxes against my thigh and gives out a deep sigh. She looks up at me with one of those wide-open doggy smiles and then back at Rock, without coaxing. The telepathic conversation resumes.

At the end of the session, Rock shares a thumbnail sketch of revelations that she says she'll email to me in transcript form in a few days. We've already touched on Homer's fear of being given away. Her horror of grates, Rock says, stems from a fear of getting stuck in a grate and being separated from me. Homer communicated this by sending Rock a telepathic picture, she explains. Homer's not eating her breakfast because she's nervous about being left with Mommy's friends and Mommy not coming back.

Rock suggests things I can do to make Homer feel more secure and tips to help broaden our means of communication. We make an appointment for a follow-up session, in a week or so, after I have a chance to practice these new ideas. Rock leaves and Homer and I set out for a nice long walk on Boston Hill.

All goes very well for me and my sweet dog over the next number of weeks. Though I do not get the "mental images" that Rock reports come to her through her style of animal communication, I find I have my own brand of intuition and try to pay more attention to Homer's signals. Instead of dropping Homer off to be watched while I go to work, I leave her at home most days, checking on her at lunch. Though border collies are known for getting into mischief if left too long alone or not given enough attention, she is good all day, delights to see me at lunch and seems to know when I am home for good at the end of the day. She loves our walks and games of fetch, our visits to the dog park.

She's eating breakfast every day and, on a hunch, I get the idea to gradually switch her to a raw diet, which she happily devours. I have a couple of dreams about her. One is particularly comical, and in the dream, I ask her, "Homer, why are you coming to me in my dreams now?" The answer comes back loud and clear, not unlike a teenager with attitude. She practically rolls her brown canine eyes and says, "Mom! You trust your dreams!" Like, duh. She's right — I do.

Maybe I'm just paying more attention to Homer, and so I feel closer to her, notice more things. But the return of the doggy smile tells me I'm getting something right.

Intrigued to get more deeply into the experience, and impressed with Gaye Rock's abilities, I decide to sign up for her next three-day Animal Communication class. Rock says she's sure I'll get a lot out of it. "You're a natural — you'll see! And you and Homer are so connected."

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