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Channeling Edward

Dog psychic Rita Sandler listens to what a dog has to say
by: Sam Bennett, Rita Sandler, a dog “channeler,” holds Edward, a Prince Charles spaniel. Sandler does dog readings once a month. Edward is owned by Lake Oswego Review city reporter Sam Bennett.

Ever wonder what's on your dog's mind?

Rita Sandler is listening.

Sandler, a self-described 'channeler,' can hear what your dog has to say.

And if she's right, it's information that every dog owner should have.

Sandler does consultations once a month at Bone-Jour GourMutt Bakery at 5656 Hood St., West Linn. She also has a cable program on Channel 11 called 'Wise Woman Way,' which airs at 6 p.m. every Friday and re-airs on Channel 21 at 7 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m. Wednesday and 11 a.m. Thursday.

Sandler began giving dog readings at Bone-Jour in October, and the reviews have been positive.

Cindy Clunes-Noack, owner of Bone-Jour, said dog owners are often amazed when Sandler does a reading for their dogs.

'They say she makes them feel better,' she said. 'I've watched people leave here obviously quite emotional.'

The readings last 10 minutes and are $15. Her next visit to Bone-Jour will be in January, though an exact date had not been set.

'We've had people lined up to meet her,' said Clunes-Noack.

Many of her clients at Bone-Jour have rescued dogs, and are curious about what happened with their dog's previous owners.

Watching Sandler at work, Clunes-Noack said she's 'very right-on' in terms of accurately diagnosing any imbalance in the dogs' lives.

Emily Stuart, a veterinarian at Groves Lake Oswego Veterinary Clinic, said she is a skeptic, though she sees dog reading as harmless.

'I have a hard time, as someone with a scientific background, truly believing in the psychic stuff,' Stuart said. 'I think the folks who do it are relatively interpretive in reading how you word things or your body language, and they make open-ended statements that you can read into.'

But Clunes-Noack said she has no reservations about Sandler's accuracy. It was when Sandler read Clunes-Noack's wire fox terrier that she became a true believer.

Sandler accurately told Clunes-Noack that the her dog is named Duffy. She went on to say that Duffy, a rescued dog, had been abused by his first owner. (This can often be the case with rescued dogs). The original owner had small children and, Sandler said, Duffy still missed the children and worries about them.

Clunes-Noack said that explains why she often finds Duffy sitting by the front door of her home, as if he is waiting for someone.

Sandler, who recently moved from West Linn to Beaverton, said she mainly works with people as an intuitive life coach, and the dog readings came about in July 2007, when Sandler agreed to do readings in West Linn during Pooch-In-the-Park. That caught the attention of Clunes-Noack, who invited her to do readings once a month at Bone-Jour.

An awakening

Sandler said one of her first experiences reading a dog was with her dog, Punim, a Boston terrier. Punim was 16 and seemingly healthy, when one day he declared to Sandler that he was going to die soon.

Having recently come from a check-up with the vet, Punim did not seem to show any signs of being near death. But, after he told Sandler he was going to leave, Sandler took Punim back to the vet. The vet suspected water was accumulating near Punim's heart and suggested that he do an invasive, exploratory procedure on Punim.

But the terrier told Sandler he just wanted to go home.

She decided to grant Punim's final wishes - taking him repeatedly to the beach at Galveston, Texas, and letting him eat as much as he liked. Punim told exactly when he would die, and she threw a party for him on his last night.

After everyone left, around midnight, she lay on the bed with Punim and they agreed it was time.

'He looked at me, coughed once and he was gone,' she said.

When she channels, Sandler said she can hear the dog's voice (a term she uses loosely), and it is always a distinct sound.

'It's an energy that comes through me,' she said. 'It's not my job to edit or to think about whether it is true or not.'

During a reading at Bone-Jour, Sandler said a little girl and her mom wanted to know what their dog was thinking. The dog, she said, was aware that the girl had just started in school and worried about him while she was in school.

'It might not mean anything to me, but people get it,' Sandler said.

Reading Edward

When it came time for Sandler to read my dog, a 6-year-old Prince Charles spaniel named Edward, I was curious what she could bring to the surface from this high-strung, 15-pound breed to the English royals.

Sandler immediately put me at ease, when she said I reminded her of someone and that I had a 'good energy.'

We placed Edward on a chair in front of her, she closed her eyes and put her hands on him.

The only information I gave her was that Edward spends his days with my parents.

'He's very happy, but he gets confused about his living situation,' she said. I knew she was on to something.

Edward lives with me at my home in Johns Landing, but in the morning I take him to my parent's home in Riverdale. This gives him a warm home during the day and my parents enjoy his company while I work.

Apparently, Edward takes his day job seriously.

'He plays the role of mediator,' said Sandler, referring to dealing with my parents, who are usually home most of the day. 'He is sometimes concerned when he's not there, because he thinks it's his job.'

By 'mediator,' Sandler said she meant that Edward feels compelled to be a conduit for my parents to show their love for one another. In this way, she said, he brings out the best in them.

As a pup in the litter, Edward was told that his sole purpose was to smile and look good, according to Sandler. Edward's English-born mother, Fare, however, instilled a sense of higher purpose in him.

'His sense of being a working dog makes him feel very proud and privileged - that he was somehow picked for that,' she said. 'There's a little bit of pride, in that he feels he was picked for this role. He's very appreciative. He doesn't want that to be taken away from him.'

Edward also can be brattish and does not like it when he feels he does not have control of his life - such as, where he goes and when.

'He doesn't like not being in charge of his own time,' she said.

This is something I've often suspected, since Edward never seems at ease when he's away from my parents' home.

Her advice: When I take Edward to my home at the end of his work-day at my parents, I should let him know he's done a good job and can relax for the evening.

The only problem with that?

Dogs have poor short-term memories, so I'll have to give him that pep talk every evening, or he will worry about being away from his day job.

I wanted to know more. For example, if I reassure him does he understand what I'm saying?

'Yes. Each word has energy,' Sandler explained.

What does he sound like?

'He has a very husky voice,' she said.

Can she hear his words?

'I'm not hearing words,' she said. 'His thoughts are going straight from him to you and coming in a language I understand.'

I asked Stuart, the Lake Oswego vet, what she thought about Edward's job.

'I don't know that that's completely out of line, because most dogs need jobs,' she said. 'Dogs will find jobs if you don't give them one.'

Asked whether she would take her dogs to Sandler to test her skills, Stuart said she wasn't interested 'because I'm a skeptic.'

Sandler said she is not fazed by doubters.

'I know what dogs tell me, and not every dog tells me that,' she said, referring to Edward's sense of duty.

'It's not my job to convince anybody,' she added. 'That's not what I put out there: That I'm going to prove this to you. If it helps people to know what their dogs are experiencing, then I'm happy to do that.'

Starting in Brooklyn

As good as Sandler is with dogs, she's even better with people.

As a youth in Brooklyn, N.Y., Sandler said she would visit neighbors and listen to them for hours. Her mom would tell her how appreciative the neighbors were.

As an adult in her 40s, she was at first reluctant to tell her father, an orthodox Jewish man, that she had psychic abilities.

'I never thought I was doing anything more than being a good friend,' she said, referring to the days when she listened to neighbors in Brooklyn. 'Then I realized I was channeling for these people, helping them with what they needed to address but weren't able to do on their own.'

Before she works with people, Sandler said she recites a mantra, asking the universe that she can feel confident and clear.

'My mantra is that I ask to come from unconditional love, without motive or attachment, for the divine good of all.'

'I remind people that they create their own reality, so they can create peace and harmony in their life,' she said. 'If we are experiencing disharmony or disease, then we have the power within us to change. All we have to do is decide that we are going to create peace on this planet.'

When she does dog readings, Sandler said both the owner and the dog walk away more enlightened.

'It makes them very happy that their owners respond to them,' she said, referring to what happens after the readings. 'It gives them an opportunity to be heard.'

In Edward's case, the message he conveyed was not meant to hurt my feelings or diminish the importance of our relationship.

'He's feeling a little awkward,' she said during the reading. Edward was sitting behind her chair. 'He doesn't want to hurt your feelings.'

Although Edward's heart is split, Sandler said he still thinks I'm No. 1.

'He enjoys the experience of being with you,' she said. 'He would feel rejected and abandoned if you were not there.'

And now that I know how much he loves his day job, I don't mind sharing.