Animal communicator teaches volunteers how to listen

By Page H. Gifford

In her mid-50s Kat Berard, an animal communicator or what some might call a dog or horse whisperer, decided to leave her job as a paralegal to devote more time to animals. She was at a transitional phase in her life when she came to visit her friend Mary Birkholz at Caring for Creatures (CFC). Sharing her intimate knowledge of animals with a group of volunteers May 18 led to a revelation about human relationships with animals and how we view the world around us.

Berard explained that the level at which humans communicate and connect is far different than the level that animals use to communicate.

“It is deeper than what we see, it is practical, humorous, sensitive and honest,” she said. “Allow them to know you; be genuine with them. It makes it easier for them to engage with you. They are not layered with mental junk.”

She added that animals may have issues – usually brought on by negative interaction with humans. Unlike humans, animals do not ponder past emotional issues. This explains why human relationships with animals are unconditional.

“When you are working with animals, check your ego at the door. The animal knows himself or herself and doesn’t care who you are,” she said. “They are not mind readers. They have visual and mental images and sense emotional and mental energy.” For example, her dog Max loved people but once ran toward someone, then did a complete 180-degree turn and ran back to her. That told Berard that the dog sensed something about the person he didn’t like.

To understand animals at their level, Berard said to make no assumptions. The volunteers did exactly what Berard warned them against by projecting their feelings or emotions onto the animal, in this case Birkholz’ dog Charlie, a large, handsome Rottweiler-hound mix.

“They feed off your energy,” Berard said. “You are doing it on a rudimentary level. Perceptions and experiences influence translating energy that the animal receives.”

In an experiment, volunteers gathered with CFC dog Roscoe. Roscoe came to CFC from a high-kill shelter in South Carolina and because of his hair loss and general condition had been passed over for adoption. The volunteer who suggested using Roscoe for Berard’s communication experiment was overtaken by his past and fought back tears as she explained what a beautiful soul this dog was. She felt he may never get adopted because he was not attractive enough to potential adopters. Nowadays, Roscoe sports a thick coat of hair. He also looks older than his four to five years. One volunteer assumed he was a senior.

All the volunteers watched Roscoe play, focusing on him in complete silence until Berard asked them what words came to mind. One volunteer said “loved and loving.” Others had similar words but no preconceived mental images, since few knew him that well. Most of the volunteers were amazed that this was the same dog described earlier, which supported Bereard’s point about assumptions.

Berard pointed out that Roscoe doesn’t know what he looks like any more than Charlie knows he is handsome. Dogs do not look in mirrors or pass judgment on themselves the way humans do.

“Animals may have been negatively impacted but they have a fully functioning spirit and they do not need your help or your pity,” she said. The volunteers learned that communicating is about intuition, knowing rather than thinking. Humans are notorious for overthinking. The volunteer who bonded with Roscoe learned about her preconceived notions, her projections and expectations.

Berard is not a dog trainer or a behaviorist but instead takes a different approach by understanding animals at their roots. She knows how to shape behavior. An understanding a dog’s behavior overlaps with a strong relationship and good training

Many volunteers walked away knowing more about their animals and even how to connect with humans in their lives as well.


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