The No. 1 rule in newspaper writing is never start a story with a question. That's why I was almost knocked unconscious when I received an item from a woman in Colorado that began with five of them.

And those questions were:

'Would you like to learn how telepathic animal communication works?

'Have you ever wondered what your animal would tell you, if you could hear them speak?

'Have you ever wondered what your pets think of each other and you?

'Does your pet have behavioral or health issues that concern you?

'Would you like to cultivate a heart-centered relationship with your pet while increasing your intuitive awareness?'

Of course, for me personally, the answer to all of these was no, but I must admit, nobody ever asked me these things before.

The person doing all of this asking was 'animal communicator' Elizabeth Anglin, who was getting ready to hold an online seminar called 'Animal Communication 101' on Wednesday evenings through Nov. 9.

If you seriously want to know more about that (even though some of the sessions already happened), by all means, go to

The rest of us will just stay here and revel in our uncommunicative ignorance.

I did check out her website, and Ms. Anglin apparently has carved an entire career out of her ability to read the minds of animals.

Now, the only thing that seems weirder than reading the minds of animals, in this reporter's opinion, would be reading the minds of vegetables, if not inanimate objects.

You laugh, but there was a time back in the '70s when lots of people talked to their plants. I know this because I was pretty far into a macramé thing back then and hanging out with some pretty odd folks. I knew several people who sincerely believed that good thoughts were better for plants than bad ones, and I'm not at all sure this isn't how the other person who lives at our house got her African violets to bloom so profusely.

But I digress.

I used to know precisely what Tom, my big fat tabby cat, was thinking when, as a child, I sat on the back porch in the morning sun and sang Pat Boone songs to him. He was thinking, 'This young human who pets me in rhythm with his vocalizing 'Love Letters in the Sand' may very well be the greatest singer who ever walked the earth, and I love him more than anything.'

When I was even younger, our next-door neighbors had an old white horse named Joe, and we were permitted to ride him sometimes. Often, though, when I would try to climb on Joe, he would turn his head and bite me in the rear end.

On those occasions, I can assure you, he was either thinking, 'I really don't want you to ride me right now' or 'Take a hike, bub' - something along those lines.

And I know very well what the little fuzzy-slipper-looking dogs that live next door to me now are thinking when they run up to the fence and bark and snarl and snort like pigs.

They are thinking, 'You might be behind this big wooden fence, and you might be bigger than us, but if we could get into that yard, mister, we would bite your ankles clear off, and you would be forced to walk around on bloody stumps like an old sea captain with two peg legs.'

Whatever breed of dog they are, I'm pretty sure they have an almost crime-novel view of the world and that has got to be reflected in their thoughts.

Of course, we've all heard of horse whisperers, and dog trainer Cesar Milan has made a huge name for himself reading the minds of critters. We've gained tremendous insights over the years, from such stars of the silver screen as Mr. Ed and Francis the Talking Mule. It's pretty hard to miss the subtle contents of an animal's thoughts when it comes right out and tells you. I was going to suggest, as evidence, the articulations of other famous animals, like Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, etc., but it occurred to me that the scientific validity of those creatures' thoughts may be compromised by the fact that they aren't actually, you know, real.

So, never mind about them.

Former editor of the Lake Oswego Review and former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections for Community Newspapers and contributes a regular column.

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