November 8, 2009, 12:00 a.m. Updated: 9 November 2009, 2:20 p.m.
Leavenworth Holly Jacobs bowed her head, closed her eyes and began to concentrate on communicating with Lexi, a 3-year-old black lab.
Jacobs says she can telepathically communicate with animals and can not only read their thoughts but also explain things to them and help them change their behavior.
“She told me that fences and backyards are important to her,” Jacobs told Margaret McLaurin, Lexi’s foster owner, who brought the dog to Jacobs to help curb her aggression problems so Lexi could be put up for adoption.
McLaurin, who is with Leavenworth County Humane Society, agreed and told Jacobs that Lexi would become aggressive when anybody is on the other side of the 5-foot-tall fence in the backyard.
On Saturday, the county’s humane society invited Jacobs to speak to pet owners at Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth and to have one-on-one sessions with Jacobs and their pets.
During Lexi’s consultation, McLaurin said she wanted the dog to be less aggressive toward new people, especially males. She said Lexi gets very aggressive when a person comes to the door when the storm door is closed but the main door is open and gets even more aggressive toward her when she tries to correct the behavior.
“She’s a sweetheart when she likes you,” McLaurin said. “It’s just that the good behavior is just as unpredictable as the bad behavior.”
During several silent moments, Jacobs said she was able to learn more about Lexi’s dominant and stubborn personality. “She likes to negotiate,” Jacobs said after one of her telepathic communications. “She doesn’t want to take things lying down.”
‘Born with the gift’
Jacobs has been in the Kansas City metro area consulting with clients and their pets for about a decade, but she said she’s always been able to communicate with animals.
“I was born with the gift,” she said. “When I got my first pony, I was always communicating with it. My parents thought I was pretending to talk with it at first, but then they realized that was not the case and there was real communication going on.”
Soon she found that her abilities went beyond horses. She also worked with the other animals that she had while growing up, she said.
She charges $60 for an hour consultation and $15 travel fee for any home consultation in the five-county metro area.
While she has local clients, she said she has also counseled animals in other states and countries. She said her abilities are not restricted to face-to-face communication — she is able to communicate with animals over the phone.
“If I have a picture of the animal, I can get in touch with the animal telepathically from the picture,” she said. “It would work the same as if I were there in person.”
Wayne Hunthausen, veterinarian at Westwood Animal Hospital and pet behavior specialist, has co-authored several books on pet behavior and has given lectures nationally and internationally on the subject
He said he wasn’t so sure about Jacobs’ kind of behavior modification techniques because he hasn’t seen any studies verifying if those methods work. Instead, Hunthausen uses techniques such as conditioning, counter conditioning, desensitization and, if needed, medication to help treat behavioral problems.
“With aggression or fear related problems, what is typically involved is identifying the trigger for the fear and the aggression and repeatedly exposing the animal to it in small amounts so they can see it’s not a threat,” Hunthausen said.
He said if an animal is afraid of people the dog could be rewarded with a treat from a person it might be afraid of and It will begin to know that being near the person is a good thing.
He said medication would be used if the dog had compulsory behavior that may be caused by a chemical imbalance or if a dog’s behavior put it at an immediate risk.
Maris Ewing, owner of For the Dogs Training in Kansas City, uses a pack mentality approach to helping change a dog’s behavior. She said once an owner becomes the pack leader and earns the trust and respect from its dog, it will let the dog know the owner doesn’t need protection and the aggressive behavior could start to wane.
“Then you can see a whole different dog,” Ewing said.
But in the end, did it work?
Shortly after Lexi was introduced to Jacobs, the dog was licking Jacobs’ face, much to the astonishment of Crystal Swann Blackdeer, the county’s humane society director, and McLaurin.
Blackdeer recalls her first meeting with Lexi when the dog came lunging for her. “If her owner hadn’t had control over her, she would have bit me,” Blackdeer said.
McLaurin’s first introduction to Lexi was similar. By the end of the session, even a male stranger that she snarled at before the meeting was able to have her sit and drop a treat for her without any problems.
Blackdeer said she was skeptical at first but was getting desperate with Lexi. “I wanted to give her a chance,” she said.” “I am all for anything that is going to help (Lexi) and not hurt her so she can find a home.”
On Monday, Blackdeer wrote in an e-mail that Lexi did not have any episodes of aggression over the weekend, but there were also no real triggers. She wrote that the county human society had approved to let Lexi see Hunthausen later this month.
For more information, Jacobs can be reached by phone at (816) 686-0858 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Hunthausen can be reached at Westwood Animal Hospital, 4820 Rainbow Blvd, Westwood, (913) 362-2512 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on Hunthausen can be found at westwoodanimalhospital.com. Ewing can be reached at (630) 885-0691, by e-mail at ForTheDogsTraining@Gmail.com or by visiting www.forthedogstraining.com.
Originally published at: http://www.tonganoxiemirror.com/news/2009/nov/08/consultant-i-communicate-animals/