It's getting harder to remember how this began although I do recall I wanted a dog. That seemed so simple at the time, so reasonable. A man want so simple at the time, so reasonable. A man wants a dog, a man gets a dog. Big deal.
I required a purebred Australian shepherd. You know, Australian shepherd, silver-and-black coat, blue eye — the sheepherding dog, the dog that herd farm animals 12 hours a day, Bow-wow arf-arf, pant-pant. Some of us like Ford trucks, others like Chevy trucks. I wanted an Australian shepherd . Does that sound so extreme?
Act 1. Scene 1. Purchase of Beloved Pet: The Last of the Good Times
Have searched local newspaper for several months, finally find male Australian shepherd pups. I drive 60 miles to breeder's house. Breeder's house is in white-trash farm suburbia. Breeder and wife both tall, both thin, both nervous, both talk real fast. Live in one-story ranch house with a trashed backyard. Expect to find, but do not see meth on kitchen table.
I'm shown puppies and their mom and dad, I don't know beans from dogs, just know I want a purebred Australian shepherd puppy. I walk into backyard, step over discarded package of Hostess Twinkies, find tumble-down kennel housing five squirming seven-week-old pups. And of course they're cute, bouncy, altogether adorable. I squat down and study the mass of infant canines. Within a few minutes it's clear that one of them is particularly energetic, curious and happy.
And of course I want the most energetic, curious and happy one. I dub him Sam, Fork over $300 to speed-freak couple, and stand over filthy kitchen table as registration papers are filled out.
It is now 8:00 p.m. I carry my lump of silver and white fur out to my truck. Earlier in the day, I had taken a trip to the Salvation Army and bought several old sheets and made a puppy bed on the passenger's seat. Like a new father who doesn't know to hold his firstborn, I delicately place Sam on the seat. I walk around the truck get in start the engine and begin the 60-mile honk back to Sweetie's apartment.
We are driving through the country and it's cave dark. I have soft music on the stereo , enjoying a taste of on the road. Suddenly the Sam stands up. Waddles over armrest separating front seats, continues onto my lap, stomps around in a circle, makes a bed, and lies down. In a moment I hear tiny snores. And my heart melts.
Act 1. Scene 2. Flashback
At this time I was living with the fair Jennifer, She's an attorney working for the state, Jennifer rents a large Victorian flat in San Francisco. We have urban culture three steps out the door, We have museums, art shows, and bookstores at hand. We have restaurants, bars, music of the best kind. We have as they used to say a life and a pleasant one nestled comfortably in the soft bosom of one of the prettiest cities on earth.
I have grown up believing that no matter how good things are, they can always be better. That belief has cost me tens of thousands of dollars over the years.
At the same time I was sailing along the tranquil waters of Northern California. I had embarked on a house-building project in Baja. The previous year I had purchased a lot with a 30-year-lease. The lot is beachfront, Pacific Ocean. The land is far enough south of the border to be off the tourist trail — uncluttered, pristine. From my plot I can enjoy five miles of empty, sandy beach. It's frontier Baja with a San Diego climate plus five degrees. The lot has running water and electricity. All this for a laughable $125 a month. To make it more perfect, I contacted my oldest and best friends, who came down, were knocked out by the place, and bought in too.
So you can see the obvious path. I build estate in Baja and commute. "A bit rainy in Northern California this morning? Not to worry. Let us motor down to my hacienda in romantic old Mexico, the one with the hundred miles of untouched mountains at our back and the sun setting in the Pacific out front. When we tire of that, perhaps, we'll consider Portugal." Yum. Yum.
I decided to sublease my apartment for a year and use that money to build said mansion on the beach. Girlfriend and I had been together for a number of years but had always kept separate domiciles. For this next year I would stay with her in San Francisco, and when that got too close, I'd stay in my 8x16-foot, 40-year-old trailer, which I had previously hauled onto my building site in Baja. Ah, what an inventive lad I am. I had created new money out of thin air, enough new money to build my dream home. I couldn't help but chortle.
Now, girlfriend had warned me about acquiring the dog. Girlfriend had said that getting a dog was impossible, had said I didn't have time for a dog, most particularly a puppy. Girlfriend said I wasn't set up for a dog, said I couldn't afford a dog, and finally said I couldn't have a dog. The last was an unfortunate remark. It instantly brought to surface six million years of male evolution. I am flung back into the jungle, it's fight or flight, and I roar, "YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TELL ME WHETHER OR NOT I CAN HAVE A DOG!" From that moment, getting a dog was foreordained.
Relationships, so anyone over the age of 12 knows, ebb and flow, which is why people wind up living together: the relationship changes so fast, so often, you must be onsite 24 hours a day to have any hope of keeping up. So in the course of events, I was not too surprised that girlfriend changed her mind and actually urged me to get the dog.
I experience male pride. Ape-man gets to have a dog. Ape-man shows woman who is boss. Ape-man drives forthwith and acquires dog. Ape-man thinks, on the drive home, that the jungle is a pretty good place today. I should mention that I had not had a puppy since I was eight years old. I should mention that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.
Act 1. Scene 3. Homecoming
Sweetie had a small, 8x12-foot second bedroom in the San Francisco apartment. I had laid down two sheets of clear plastic to cover the floor and bed. On top of the plastic I placed five white cotton sheets. Now puppy can play and puppy can pee and puppy can defecate, and once a day I will wash the three sheets. How inventive. How easy. Everything will be fine.
I walk through the door with adorable pup in my arms; girlfriend exhibits minimal oohhing an aahhing. I place pup in small bedroom. I go into kitchen to pour cup of coffee. Return with big fatherly smile and steaming cup of coffee. Bedroom stinks of puppy diarrhea. Puppy has, in the space of four minutes, produced smelly stool, ripped two sheets, and is now chewing on a valued manuscript.
It took me about an hour to realize this is what puppies do: they chew on everything, everything; they have diarrhea on a constant basis; when not having diarrhea they pee; and every once in a while they stop aforementioned tasks and are cute.
I do first load of laundry and decide to sleep in small bedroom so Sam and I can bond. I wake up to puppy diarrhea. Amazing how he's able to spread it around. The stink is God-awful. I get up at 5:00 a.m., slog down to the basement to do a load of puppy laundry. Later Sam and I march to Pet Mart, where I buy two stainless-steel dog bowls, puppy food, puppy chew toys, and a portable kennel, the kind they use in airplanes. Cost is $142. The kennel in particular is supposed to be the answer. The kennel will be Sam's home. He will look at it like a cave. He will spend many happy hours behind bars. Then I make a 20-mile trek to Toys R Us, purchase a baby fence to erect in the doorway of small bedroom. The hope is that I will be able to occasionally leave said bedroom. Cost of fence: $33. While in store, puppy throws up on passenger's seat of my truck.
Sam does not like the portable kennel, despite what seven books said. he howls within five feet of it. He howls when pushed into it. He howls if door is closed. Can't have howling pup in urban apartment building. By noon, understand I won't be able to tolerate the dog odors, especially the puppy bowel movements. I've spent the afternoon running up and down the apartment stairs doing three loads of laundry. By evening, the small bedroom has become more rancid than a field of rotting fruit. I cannot keep up with Sam's bowel movements; he has a way of depositing stool so that his droppings find their way through three sheets and two layers of clear plastic onto Sweetie's expensive white rug. Additionally, within the last 72 hours, Sam has chewed and ripped every pillow, every book, and every item of loose clothing in the room.
Girlfriend complains of odors. Girlfriend has a point. Girlfriend was absolutely right; I am not set up to have a puppy. I make fourth trip to basement laundry room, put clothes in washer, sit on folding table, and ponder situation. Wise man sees disharmony, nips problem in the bud. Fool continues to walk down doomed path rather than admit hopeless situation. This makes hopeless situation far worse. Reader can determine which path author takes.
I take Sam outside a dozen times a day, note that he'd rather attend to his toilet in the small bedroom than in the vast world. We sit under small elm tree. I watch him flop around, then come back and touch base with me, take four-foot journey, stop, make sure I'm still here. His silver, black, and white fur shines in the sunlight. What Sam is is happy. He's ecstatic to be alive. he plops through tall grass. His body shudders with joy, his mouth is open, his tongue flops to one side. He jump up and down, runs back to me while seeming to shout, "ISN'T THIS GREAT?"
I skim dog books, call friends. The topic is, "Jesus, what am I going to do with this puppy?" I'm given several hundred tips, cannot remember one. Only remember it's time to do the laundry again. Learn that one cannot leave a puppy for a moment. One cannot go to kitchen and read the morning paper. Every attempt brings forth puppy howls. Puppy pees the moment he is left alone. I experience new insight: "This is what women do after they have a baby." I have entered the world of constant care, eternal responsibility.
Day two ends. I am exhausted from nonstop puppy care. I've done four loads of laundry today, and bedroom still reeks of canine body fluids. Have not enjoyed one moment for self. Am not a happy puppy owner. Woman has passed through annoyance, then anger, now into smoldering resentment.
Day three opens. Puppy snores adorably on his expensive bed, made up of my shirts and assorted cloth items he has destroyed over the last 48 hours. The bedroom odor is horrific. I sit up, swing my feet over to a sitting position, then place bare feet in pool of puppy diarrhea. Good morning.
Have crushing awareness: "This is not going to work." No way can this seven-week-old puppy stay here. Three days ago I had domestic tranquility. Now I have an ugly, growing rip in my universe. I look down at Sam and understand that it is not going to get better any time soon. Also realize puppy is just being puppy, has not asked for any of this. Woman is being woman, has not asked for any of this either. Her flat now reeks of dog. Her man has zero time for her, all is given to puppy care.
Could just give the dog back, resume happy life. That is the universal cry from woman, author's mother, and author's friends spread across five states. "Give the dog back," the chorus chants.
But Ape-man knows best. Ape-man is backed into a corner. Ape-man will have none of that. Ape-man did not become king of the jungle by listening to others.
In another part of my brain, the problem-solving node kicks in. "Well, let's see ... I have to go to Baja anyway ... could leave a little early..." The first phase of my project is to score an office in the village. The Mexican telephone company has for the first time brought telephones into the village. Thirty-two lines are available. On my last trip I secured as 14x12-foot space in Julio's garage for $25 a month. Now I must haul office furniture, equipment, stationary, and build office. What the hell, I can leave a couple weeks early. By the time I get all that together, it will be a month, and by then Sam will be socialized.
I relate new strategy to woman, who is overjoyed at the prospect of puppy and man's immediate departure. One hitch: I'll need woman to puppy-sit while I load truck. Woman agrees. I spent next nine hours organizing, going through papers, lugging heavy furniture from basement storage boxes to truck parked at curb. Endless drag, drag, drag — desk, fax machine, rug, office furniture, chairs, bookcases, stationary, clothes, tools, and a whole lot more. Finally darkness arrives, and the truck is packed six feet high, wired, and roped off.
Finished, i stumble back inside and find woman in state of hysteria. Puppy has spent the last nine hours with woman in woman's workroom chewing on woman's world — from shoes to furniture to magazines to books to coffee cups to revered and expensive house plants. Puppy has destroyed treasured plants, ripped said items out from equally expensive vases. Puppy has soiled swatches of the once-lovely apartment. Woman has gone over the top. She is hysterical. Her entire body trembles as she asks, "Do you know what your dog has done?"
Act 2. Scene 1. Let the Wandering Begin
It was a sad, tacky little leaving. Truck loaded and waiting in the darkness, puppy looking up at me utterly dependent, woman looking at me sad and mad. Me not wanting to go, saying everything is going to be all right, not feeling that everything is going to be all right; feeling as if I've begun a long journey to a place I don't want to go.
Sam and I make San Luis Obispo, pull into slimeball motel around midnight. I flop on bed depressed and lonely, place Sam on the other bed and tell him to "have fun, big boy." The next morning I discover that Sam had his fun. His kill for the night: one blanket, two pillows, two sheets, one tennis shoe, and three towels. of course, Sam has relieved himself in all the usual places.
In his manner, Sam and I travel to Baja. I build an office in the tiny village, acquire a telephone, fix up trailer, walk on beach, and miss Sweetie. Occasionally I speak on the phone to Sweetie, who tells me I left her for a dog. Tells me the dog has filled her apartment with fleas. Tells me she hates nothing worse than fleas. I feel like an imbecile, worse, feel I have shot self in foot, arm, and chest. Tide is taking me out to sea, no life rafts in sight, can no longer see shore.
Act 2. Scene 2. The Dog Room
After three weeks I have Baja office up and running, return to San Diego to interview several people for a story. Only motel I can find that takes pets is Motel 6 in El Cajon. According to their sign, one must announce the presence of a pet upon registration. i do so and am directed to the dog room in the back. A series of rooms are set aside for guests and their pets. I open the door to Room 126 and regard the aftermath of God knows how many animals. The once-red rug has been worn down to threads, giving it a dusty Gobi desert feel. This room is the the burned-out remains of years of fleas, urine, and defecation. Soon enough, Sam adds to the bounty. Tonight's kill is another shirt, some motel towels, and the destruction of my favorite leather bag.
We spend four nights in the dog room. We have morning coffee from 7-Eleven. In the evening we dine on sardines and crackers from 7-Eleven. By the second day maids refuse to service the room. Sam and I enjoy "Boys Night Out."
It's come to time to find a way back to Sweetie. Easier said than done since I have partnered up with what Sweetie refers to as the "Terror Dog." Since Terror Dog is an Australian shepherd, Terror Dog nips. He nips on neck, arms, legs, furniture, clothes, trees, car tires, bed boards, whatever is at hand. This is how Australian shepherd herds sheep and all moving things. Terror Dog has nipped me so often that both hands are normally bloody and both arms have large scabs, six inches in length.
What to do? Terror Dog has been banished from Sweetie's flat. Where can I put him? I get out phone book, call around, find Executive Dog Trainers. For a mere $900 they will board and train Sam for five weeks. Half down, payment plan of $100 a month, which begins after I pick him up. I force myself not to think of the money, and on rainy afternoon I hand Sam over to a young female trainer.
I return to Sweetie, whose first question is, "Have you given that dog away?" I hem and haw and mention dog trainer. I absolutely refuse to discuss cost. Sweetie and I spend five uneasy weeks together, the Terror Dog hangs heavy over our lives. Soon enough, I have to return to San Diego.
Act 3. Scene 1. Don't Stop Me Please, Mr. Customs Man
I land in Lindbergh Field and drive out to Vista to pick up Sam to see how he did on his $900 vacation. The young female trainer has me wait in the back parking lot as she takes Sam out to practice field and runs him through his new routine. She walks around as he heels. She has him "sit," "down," and "stay." Afterward, Sam jumps up to her shoulders but does not nip — make that, he does not nip her flesh, he nips at the air. I get out of my truck and walk toward the field. My first thought is, "Will he remember me?" His young life is only five months old. I have been away from him 25 percent of it. Sam looks up, sees me, goes nuts, trembles with ecstasy, runs full speed at me, jumps up, and nails me on my chest. He remembered!
I take Sam back to the Motel 6 dog room. Home again. He sits, sort of; he downs, sort of; he heels, sort of; he but mostly he runs and plays, slobbers and nips. His kill that night was one blanket, two sheets, and the cord from my electric coffee pot.
Act 3. Scene 2. Return to the Killing Fields
We can't be paying Motel 6 $29 a night forever. I do some more interviews, then drive down to my trailer in Baja. I learn that Sam has one fine interior clock. No matter what time I go to sleep, 9:00 p.m., midnight, or 2:00 in the morning, eight hours later, to the minute, Sam is on my chest, licking my face. He's telling me, "IT'S TIME TO PLAY! OH BOY! LET'S GO!"
When he reaches this point of excitation, nothing can stop him. I get up, let the little bastard out of the trail. He beelines to the beach. This is the beginning of our daily routine. I have morning coffee, listen to the world news on my short-wave radio. After an hour, Sam returns from his outing, dirty and wet. I dry him off, give him breakfast. Then we climb into the truck and commute three miles to the tiny village and my office. This is a 20-minute drive over a rocky dirt road that runs through tomato fields tended by 2000 Mexican farm workers. I have the truck radio turned to a San Diego station. "And traffic is backed up on the 805 all the way past MIra Mesa." I pet Sam and remark, "Looks like a bitch of a commute today."
I spend the day in my office transcribing interviews, working on articles. Sam gnaws on his toy bone, gnaws on my chair leg, gnaws on my arms and hands, nips at my feet. Every two hours I take him for a walk through the village, down past the rusting dump trucks to the riverbed. This is an attempt to instill toilet etiquette. The second evening in Baja, Sam kills a neighbor's chicken, comes back to the trailer with bloody chicken head in his mouth. He looks so triumphant, I don't have the heart to scold him.
Three weeks pass. My lifestyle plummets. It is difficult to keep clean when living in an 8x12-foot trailer on a beach in Baja. Sand, dust, and dirt fly into the trailer every time the door is opened. The nearest laundromat is a two-hour drive to the north. I discover that the beach is flea heaven; Sam quickly becomes infested. Now he chews, goes to the bathroom, and scratches. I do the same.
Life is lonely, uncomfortable, and dirty. I decide to make one more trip to San Francisco and see what can be done with Sweetie. But what to do with Sam? Cannot, will not crank out another $900. I call old road partner living in Las Vegas, opening with, "I need a favor."
Act 3. Scene 4. One More Time around the Loop
Jack and I have been friends for 30 years. We bunked together at 40 below zero inside a quarter-inch noninsulated plywood shack in Alaska. First guy to wake up had to build the fire. He was there the night I drove my truck through a bar door in Reno. Trivial altercation with bartender took place earlier. Jack said only one thing in reproach as we drove back to his house: "Jeez, that was my favorite bar." We've been broke, moneyed, mad, sad, stupid, and smart together. We have shared, accepted, and worked on each other's fantasies. We've seen each other go through women and jobs and situations, witnessed the other's unedited life. If you can do all that and still remain friends, you develop a secret code, a language that both parties understand and no one else could. So when I said, "I need a favor," that meant, "You've got to do this for me."
The deal is, I pay for dog food and toss in $100 a month. Jack will keep my dog for up to two months while I try and sort things out in San Francisco. I drive over to Vegas, drop off Sam, return to the Bay Area. Two days later, Jack calls and relates that Sam has bitten his dog Rowdy on the nose, a wound that required 18 stitches and $150 vet bill. I wait a week, then call Jack and ask, "How is Sam?" Sam has mites, required another $80 vet bill. Ever the fool, I dial Nevada seven days later and repeat, "How is Sam?" Sam has destroyed Jack's lawn sprinklers, four deck chairs, assorted tables, and gnawed a hole in his garage door. I do not call again.
Meanwhile, Sweetie and I go through the motions of a life together, but it is over. I won't relinquish Baja or Sam. Sweetie has zero interest in Baja and revulsion for Sam. The topics have become a cold wedge between us. I knew when I left that I would not be coming back.
Two months to the day after I dropped Sam off, I am standing before Jack's front door. Again the question on my mind is, "Will he remember me?" Jack shows me to his back yard, where Sam, tied to a chain, is taking a nap. I softly say, "Sam boy." Sam looks up, squeals, jumps up and down, eyes aflame, runs at me and snaps the chain, gets up, runs at me and snaps the chain, gets up, run at me and snaps the chain. Jack's sweetie remarks, "Well, we know whose dog he is." This time I don't feel entirely relieved at the acknowledgement.
Sam and I drive back to the dog room in El Cajon. By now, Sam has racked up a total bill (vets, food, clothes, general destruction, trainer, vaccination shots, equipment) in excess of $2500. My fairly new truck has been soiled and chewed and shedded on so many times that the interior smells like a manger. In fact, the barnyard aroma has become normal. Sam is only nine months old; experts tell me that puppies chew until they are two years of age. At this rate, I'll be homeless long before then.
I flop down on the dogroom bed and decide to count money. For anyone who has traveled — and by that I mean taking trips of several month's duration — counting money is something you do on a daily basis. In this case, instead of money, I count assets. I have a job. I have one 40-year-old 8x16-foot trailer in Baja. I have one rapidly decaying truck. I have one apartment that I can't use for ten months. I have one Terror Dog. Okay, the first thing to do is deal with Sam.
I had by this time tried books, friends, trainers, and animal nutritionists. I had even looked at a dog support groups. Here are some suggestions I received during this quest:
- Urine Therapy. "If urine is ingested and/or rubbed into the skin, it purifies blood and tissues, provides useful nutrients, and sends the body a signal about what is in or out of balance." The idea is that Sam has some mystery illness.
- Exorcism. "The exorcist must rid himself, his belongings, his residence, and all his possessions of the following occult objects, which ha-satan (satur) and his evil spirits use as points of contact.... (a) Idols of all kinds, whether made of wood, stone, marble, glass, ceramic, or plastic. Idols may represent persons, animals, birds, fish and other creatures. (b) Rock music cassette tapes, computer diskettes, CD/ROMs, videotapes, videogame gadgets, compact discs and records, together with posters, photographs of, and reading materials on these rock music artists. That's whether they sing country rock, acid rock, gospel rock, mellow rock, rap, or plain rock 'n' roll." Sam has taken care of that long ago.
- Holistic medicines. One catalogue tells me about Essiac Colloidal. "This aqus extract formula is an excellent blood cleanser. One ounce (140 doses) $38 Product JP-A." Or "VAC RELIEF. A homeopathic remedy combination to combat toxic effects from standard vaccination injections. Two 1 oz. bottles $30 Product J-1.
- Sound Therapy. "It will calm him down."
- Give him to an animal sanctuary. "There's one in Bonny Doon, located just north of Santa Cruz." Turns out a Ms. Goodman runs it. She says, "When a new animal comes to the sanctuary, he/she is introduced to the others as a new member of the family. The animals are asked to help the new animal adjust and even protect the new animal if they wish. This way, the animals feel protective of the new animal and not threatened." Sam would have them for breakfast on the first day.
- Crystals. Richard Andersen, who had something to do with the book Dolphins and Other Living Beings Serving the Development of Mankind, says, "Each and every living being, from stone to plant, plant to animal, and animal to human being has its special place in the perfect, cosmic hierarchy."
Talking about trees, Anderson says, "If you need the vibrations of the beach, you can stand up beside it, hold a hand on it, and simply ask the tree for help, and then open yourself up meditatively and thank the tree for its help and love, which comes from the external Divinity of the Universe.
"Each single species of animal has its own special area, within which it has developed into some kind of perfection and balance. The dog helps the human beings with their development, because it radiates energy from a perfectly developed solar plexus chakra."
- Herbs. Looking through another catalogue I discover "Adam & Eve Roots for Love and Happiness. Alfalfa for Prosperity. Anti-Hunger, and Money. Allspice for Money, Luck, Healing, Apple for Love, Healing, Garden Magic, Immortality. Aspen for Eloquence and Anti-Theft." I decide to buy some Aspen for my truck.
And so, finally, over the edge of despair, well into the valley of self-hatred, on a particularly bleak Monday afternoon, I make my way out to the home of Susan Goodrich.
Susan Goodrich is an animal communicator — make that a dog telepath. She lives in a ranch-style house in Escondido in what was probably the country 15 years ago but is now blooming suburbia. I pull my truck into her driveway, tie Sam up to the front bumper, and knock on her front door.
Ms. Goodrich is in their 40s, 5'9" tall, appropriate weight, light-blond frizzy hair, and wears clear-rimmed glasses. One thinks, 'This is a classic high school tutor." I am invited into a crowded living room. On the way I walk past a large cockatoo, regard a cage of rats, and then take a seat on the overstuffed couch. I notice that every table in the room is covered with bric-a-brac. I unconsciously bunch my shoulders and ask, "How did you become an animal communicator?"
"I've worked with animals almost all my life. I spent 13 years at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, then worked for a number of veterinarians. I've always had a lot of pets. I got into this field because of a horse I had. She was the worst horse I ever ran into. I couldn't do anything with her. Then I read about Penelope in Equus, and I went to one of her two-day clinics. I was absolutely amazed." (Penelope Smith is a San Francisco-based animal communicator.)
"What amazed you?"
"Penelope worked on horses that were in bad shape. One walked two steps, stood up, an reared. I mean, he was terrified of everything — reared, bucked, wouldn't stand still. There were horses at the class that were so sour you couldn't do anything with them: they wouldn't get into their trailers, they were afraid to pose. But at the end of the two days, everybody went home with a smile on their face."
All right, Sam dog, help is on the way. Goodrich pushes on. "I continued to have problems with my mare. Penelope is a world-renowned animal communicator. She has produced books and videos and tapes and all of that. She couldn't communicate with my horse over the phone, so I had to pay her way down [to San Diego], and she stayed here. She examined the mare and said she was schizophrenic, still very tied to her mother, which explained the horses' extreme behavior, because she was very unreliable and dangerous.
"So, basically, Penelope said, 'Good luck' about the mare and worked with my two dogs. My Doberman had some past lives that had affected his behavior. Penelope worked with him. The next day, he totally changed. My husband became a complete believer." Goodrich offers a chuckle.
"Penelope told me I was already doing her work. I didn't believe her. I was totally in my brain at the time. She told me, 'How do you think you go over to these ranches, and the horse is standing in a 12x12 corral, and it's not doing anything, and yet you tell the owners everything that is going on with the horse? And they agree with you. Isn't that right?' I said, 'Yeah, but I've been around horses all my life. I really know them.' Penelope just smiled and said, 'You cannot tell how they are laying, how they move, how they behave, just by seeing them stand unless you already know how to do this work, how to communicate with animals.'"
I'll dress Sam in a tux, have him bring snacks on a serving tray during football games. Goodrich drones on. "She wanted me to come to her classes, which I did. It took me three times before I got it." Goodrich produces a hollow laugh. "Penelope had me come up to her home. She's got a ton of animals like I do. They are unbelievable beings and very patient; they have to be in order to work with humans."
"You say you got it. What did you get?"
"All of it. All beings, animals, are able to telepathically communicate with each other. From birth, this is a natural thing. Because we're not born with speech. We telepathically send pictures, we telegraph our feelings, our emotions to each other, and this is how a lot of animals communicate with one another. but we humans get so much into our minds and in our linear way of thinking, and then everybody squelches it down. If you hear something in your head, you think, 'Maybe I am crazy.'
"That's what happened to Penelope, but she knew she wasn't crazy, so she continued doing it, she just didn't tell anybody. It's an amazing experience. Anyone can do it as long as they learn how to quiet their mind and get into their senses. She worked out a whole curriculum, learned how to teach people very quickly and very easily. I've only had one person, in all the classes I've taught, not be able to communicate. The poor woman had so many personal issues going on, she just couldn't."
I can get Sam to read the football spreads to me. I could get him to stand at a racecourse and telepath the results while I, half a continent away, lay money down on Best Boy. Or maybe I could park him on a stock exchange floor. Goodrich interrupts my thoughts. "During that period I had a horse named Magic. She lived next door to her mother, who was crazy. The mother taught Magic how to throw herself backwards and all kinds of bad things. I wouldn't let anybody in my back yard if they mentioned her past. I changed her name and everything. I decided to get a great big picture of her father, an Arabian champion. I showed Magic her father's picture, and I started showing her those parts of her body that looked just like him. I had met the father, and he was incredible. Kids could walk under him, grab his penis, he was just wonderful. Two weeks after I started that, I had friends come down, and they looked at Magic and said, 'She looks bigger or something.' I didn't notice. Then two weeks after that, I walked out in the back yard, and she lifted her head up and said, 'Hi.' I went, 'No, I didn't hear that.'" Goodrich produces a smile. "So I ran into the house and I called Penelope and said, 'I think Magic just said hi to me.'"
Sam communicates with his mouth, and then later, with his disposal unit. Well, we are here to upgrade that. I make an expression of concern and ask, "When you say communicate, is the communication in pictures or feelings or words?"
"I get all of them. Some people just get the pictures, some get the feelings. It depends on the individual and how their senses are developed. For the most part people get pictures and feelings, but there are those souls who are incredibly articulate, and there is a portion of our brain that is able to translate that. What's really coming through is not language per se. Each of us has electrical energy fields just like the earth does. When someone calls me, all I need is the name and the description of the animal, and then it's like tuning in a radio and picking up that individual energy. When we speak, we put out a lot of energy. When we think, we're putting out a lot of energy.
"And it doesn't matter where the animals are in the world. When I went to Peru, I kept in contact with my animals all the time and let them see where I was through my eyes. I had a raven at the time, and he loved it. So I always knew how everybody was, and they knew how I was..." I hear another cheerless laugh "...so they didn't worry."
I envision Sam at the racetrack again. This time he's smoking a mini stogie, reading the racing form. Just to keep the ball rolling I ask, "How many pets do you have now?"
"I've got two dogs, four cats, two rats, a rabbit, a cockatoo, and two horses."
"Do you talk to all of them?"
"Yes, but not all the time."
If I could communicate with Sam, what would be the first thing I'd say? Hmm. I'd say, "Samboy, do you like Las Vegas?" I bet he would. I turn my mind back to Ms. Goodrich and inquire, "When you speak to your animals, do you talk about different things with different pets? I assume that a cockatoo would be interested in different subjects than a dog...."
"Not necessarily. They're very much like us. Actually, I've caught the two horses talking about me."
I can see that. Grinding a little bit now, I ask, "What did they say?"
"When I was being ill and not taking care of myself, they would discuss that and how silly I was acting. Shutzie, my gelding out there, is an incredible teacher. He got so that he would mirror my spinal problems; he was out where dragging his hind feet. And I'd say, 'Okay, Shutzie, I gotta go to the chiropractor.' So, I'd go to the chiropractor, and he'd be fine. They let you know what you're doing to yourself."
"How about the cockatoo?"
"She had a really bad beginning. It took me about a year to get her over her fear of being abandoned, fear of almost anything. She wouldn't talk, wouldn't play, wouldn't do anything. Now, she bosses her dogs around. If I'm on my phone in the other room, and she thinks I'm on it too long, she flies down off her perch and comes into my bedroom, gets up on my shoulder, and kibitzes while I'm on the phone."
What the hell, why not? Sam chews on my legs when I talk on the phone. More out of habit than desire, I carry on. "When you talk to your animals, are the conversations long or short?"
"Some animals are very cryptic. Like, when you ask them a question, it's 'Yes. No. Maybe. Of course.' But others, you can't shut them up. You ask them a question, and they go on and on and on and on about it."
"Who's the most talkative of this group?"
"I would say probably Lakota. He's very philosophical. When he was four months old I had class here. A gentleman came. Lakota gave him two pages of information about himself, his wife, and what he should do with her. He said it in this bluesy sort of way, because Lakota was only four months old."
"Did Lakota blab this stuff to everybody?"
"No, he told it to the gentleman. I had 15 people here. They each had different animals, and they had a set of questions that they asked the animals. So, they were doing that as an exercise. The man wrote it all out. He was just amazed. And then there's Sage — although Sage is pretty cryptic, depending on the person she's working with. She doesn't have a lot of patience with people. So if they don't get it right away, she shuts them off. But if they get it, they can go into more involved questioning with her."
I hear some noise from the cage set next to the sliding glass door. I focus my eyes on the contraption and murmur, "You said you have a cat?"
"I have two rats."
"What do they talk about?'
"Not too much with themselves. I give them a list of questions. If you have something specific that you want to know, you ask, and they'll answer."
"Would the rats know about household problems and relationships?"
"Oh, absolutely. Anything that's going on in the home. They're just like children as far as being affected by what is going on in the home. Fights, argument, people leaving, going on trips. It gets animals very anxious and upset and sometimes neurotic."
Maybe I should get Sam a cat. Purchase a tiny collar and leash for the rodent. Have Sam take him for a walk on the beach every day. I push on. "Is there chit and chat? Do they pass the time talking to each other?"
"I'm not tuned into them all the time. We're just animals and people together. We just enjoy our life every day. If they have something they want to tell me, they make it very plain that they want to tell me something. I'd go nuts if I listened all the time. To hear, you have to be in an out-of-body thing, so you're very open at that time. When I'm doing consultations, I'm very open to other energies coming in and affecting me in a physical and emotional level. I don't want to be open to that all the time.
"And before I do consultations, I say a prayer of protection for myself and also afterward. I clear myself so it doesn't affect me. When I first started, I didn't know how to do that, and I'd get terrible headaches and backaches. It was the animal's stuff that was staying with me, especially horses. They are very good at throwing at you exactly how their body feels. I almost went down to my knees once with a horse. He just threw it at me. I was in such pain. I could hardly take a breath."
It never fails to astound me, the various ways people make a dollar. But I like this one. you work at home, talk on the telephone, ask the rat how his day was. Wanting to get a sense of how that works, I ask, "How many classes a year do you give? How many people attend, and where do you hold them?"
"[In San Diego] and I go to New York. I go to Canada. From 10 to 40 people per class."
"And you do individual consulting as well?"
"Oh, yeah, I do a lot of those. I do that every day, morning and evening. I did consulting this morning. The woman was very distraught because she lost three cats to illness, and she knew the cats didn't want to leave. Since then she's been hearing sounds and seeing images in an awakened state. And her roommate also heard them. So she wanted to know what that was about, and she wanted to deal with her own grief. Also, one of her cats was very depressed. She's got 19 animals."
My, my. Here is a home for Sam. Nineteen animals to torture, a woman who wants to talk to him. Sam, the banana ship is in port! Wanting a little more, I prod, "And how will you help this woman?"
Tonight when she calls me, I'll get in touch with the animal that has left and ask him what it is he wants from her."
Of course. Probably a request for catnip, maybe a fish sandwich, or one last mouse. But that does bring to mind an interesting question. "What do you do when a pet tells you, "This human is nuts, this is a terrible human?"
"Most people that call me are very caring about their animals. There are people out there who are really bad with their pets, but they don't call me. Most animals, like other people in the family, don't want to hurt their owners' feelings. Most of them are concerned about their owners. I remember I had a gal call me from the zoo. While she was on the phone, one of her tortoises told me about her physical problems, her emotional problems. I repeated them, and there was dead silence on the phone. I said, 'Did you hear what I said? Is that right?' I was right on. A tortoise said all those things to me. It just blew her mind. I told the woman, 'He's really concerned about you.' She was really stressed, had bad migraine headaches, her feet were bad, she was overweight. I didn't know that; I had never met the woman."
All right, let's turn it around. "Have you ever run a cross a dog who was a sociopath? Some people are rotten — have you ever dealt with a flat-out rotten dog?"
"No. I've run across some that are severely emotionally screwed up. From a feeling level they are much more willing to listen than people. They don't take what I say to them as a threat or that they're bad or anything like that. I can explain to them what's going on and work out an agreement with their people about how they want to be treated and what they want to be told."
"You must have met one rotten dog."
"There was a Doberman. he had been a Doberman in his immediate past lifetime and had killed a child. Other lifetimes, prior to that, he had been a wild predator, so when he chose to come into life as a dog, he was very uncomfortable in his body. He did not know how to handle it. He was repeating his predatorness in this lifetime. Very aggressive.
"When Penelope was speaking to him about that, and when the memory of killing the child came through, he was devastated. It was so obvious. He didn't want to look at anybody. Penelope helped him work through that — 'That was then, this is now' — so he could let that go. Then we had to being my husband in and go through the whole thing all over again because he was definitely sure that Art would never talk to him again. So Art called him over, he just creeped over, and Art told him, 'It's okay, buddy. You're here, it's okay, we love you.' The next morning he was like, 'I'm a dog. This is good!'"
"My dog, Sam, seems to have certain destructive tendencies. I'm not going to have a full-time place to live in another ten months. I've had to leave him at times for a month here, a month there. I was hoping I could get you to talk to him and find out what he thinks about the situation."
Goodrich closes her eyes. "You don't have enough time for him. It makes him very sad, and it makes him very anxious, so he overcompensates. An animal like that, if they don't have something to do, it's really boring."
My hostess leans back, squishes her eyes. "He is so out there, his mind is always racing ahead. When he gets to be two or three, that's when he's going to be incredible. You've got to be able to mold him now, during this period of time. you have to be real specific what it is you want from him, and why you have him. He's got to know that."
At my urging Goodrich begins to read Sam's mind. "He's very impatient, he just likes to keep moving. He loves to go in the car. Loves to play on the beach, loves to come running back. He's showing me you being at home; he wants to play. It's great that he goes to the beach in Baja and all, but it's boring. He's like a kid, he's hyper."
Now Goodrich lowers her voice. "He says he's very attached to you, but he doesn't have any quality time with you. He doesn't really have a bond. he would really like..." Goodrich generate and out-of-body laugh" ... sense of having a family, and then he showed me a Frisbee. He would be a great Frisbee dog. It would control that high energy he's got. He's very high energy for the species. He is one that can go all day long." Goodrich appears to have come out of her trance, blinks her eyes several times. "Be very clear," she adds, "when you get your next dog, how you want it to behave, how you want it to be, and what you want to do with it. You need to get an older puppy."
Time is up. Felling deflated, I bid farewell, walk out to my truck, and untie Sam. He squeals, jumps up to my shoulders, and nips my shirt. I give him a part and say, "Sam boy, how would you like to chew on a nice, big, fat motel room tonight?"