Reflection: Interspecies Communication
Warm trees
By Raymond Douglas (06/08/13 19:21:19)
Related animals: Dog, Human, Tree

Since Barbara Janelle’s visit numerous weeks ago I’ve retained a strong level of appreciation and fondness for the work she does. I must preface by saying that part of me wants to be a devout skeptic over animal and psychic communication. There is simply something to be said about the lack of said communication taking place and being recognized globally since the beginnings of language and animal relationships. I feel the majority of American pet owners talk to their pets in English with a very childish tone to somehow stoop to their level in order to communicate more easily and provide comfort. This is also something I am skeptical about. I believe that high-level communication with animals, if there is such a thing, should consist of a high level of respect for them. Relatively, your pet may be the same age as you, so it would make sense to avoid all inconsiderate behavior about their age and abilities. I see it daily: a person is walking their adorable dog down the street (which could be for a number of reasons – exercise, potty time, or to attract the opposite sex) when a person comes over to greet and hopefully pet this cute animal. As they make first contact, they say, in a baby-like voice, “Helllooooo, little guy! How are you today?” During times like these, my want to be a skeptic is thrown aside as I wonder what an animal communicator could glean from such a scenario. If it were capable of a higher lever of cognition and communication, would the pet enjoy being treated like a small, infantile creature? Or would it be instantly offended and seek retaliation by backing away, growling, or going for the bite of the hand? My curious mind thankfully permits my thoughts to go wild and embrace difficult to grasp ideas. So, with such preconceptions I came into the class with Barbara with hopes for reaching an understanding that I had yet to grasp. We started with inter-human exercises and then were tasked with venturing out onto the campus to locate a tree, walk towards it, touch it, walk away, and return to it to place our backs against the trunk. At this point we were to ask the tree a question that, as a very passive creature, was to answer in a very physical and powerful way. I found a large pine tree down by the papermaking lab, touched it, walked away, and then returned to it to ask if things would change in the ways I anticipated after graduation. Sure, a typical, almost cliché question, but I was crazy curious to what kind of response I would get. I asked, I waited, and then my chest, as my back remained against the tree’s trunk, began to get warmer in a most comfortable way. My skeptical side wanted to disregard this sensation as one of some other biological function, but I couldn’t ignore it. Since it was such a positive, relaxing feeling, I took that to mean that things will go as planned. I thanked the tree and walked back to class without looking backwards. As Barbara commenced the actual animal communication workshop with Laurel’s dog, Abby, I couldn’t help but to think of my experience with the tree and much more profound it was than my inability to communicate with Abby. Maybe I’m a tree person?

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