FARGO (AP) – Tara Argall has always felt a strong connection with animals.
Sometimes, it was like she sensed the animal’s thoughts, but Argall figured it must be her imagination.
About a year ago, she started reading about animal communication, when humans can telepathically listen and talk to animals. She attended conferences in Minneapolis and Massachusetts.
She didn’t learn anything new.
“I just learned I had been doing it all my life,” the Fargo woman said.
Now Argall is a weekly volunteer at the Fargo-Moorhead Humane Society, “talking” with animals that have had problems adjusting. Individual pet owners have started retaining her services.
“I do realize this is not everybody’s cup of tea, but it has been so beneficial in our work,” said Nukhet Hendricks, executive director of the local Humane Society. Hendricks has also had Argall work with her own three cats.
When communicating, Argall calms herself, closes her eyes, and focuses on establishing a connection with the animal.
Then, telepathically, they send her messages, she said – pictures, emotions or complete thoughts.
She said it’s a skill anyone can do with time and practice. But whether because of disbelief or fear, people shut off the intuitive ability.
Argall -also a mental health counselor, energy healer and artist – is often called to help deal with behavioral problems – aggression or inappropriate elimination, for example. She helps when animals are ill, to communicate their final wishes to the owners.
“My job is to be a bridge, but my job is also to teach about animals,” she said. She stresses animals are not possessions, but companion souls.
She said she can connect with photos of the pets e-mailed to her, but she prefers to go into the client’s home. She charges $50 a session, which lasts about an hour.
At one family’s home, she worked with a cat that was urinating on the floor.
The cat wanted to spend more time outdoors, Argall said. The family worried the cat would run away. The cat assured Argall it wouldn’t – it knew what a good life it had.
At the Humane Society, a German shepherd was climbing the fence and pacing. Argall said the dog was worried about the woman who had owned him. Once Argall explained the woman had to give him up because she moved, the dog calmed down.
Hendricks said Argall’s communication helps the shelter know an animal’s background. For example, if a cat enjoys the farm life, it probably won’t be a good fit for apartment dwellers.
She praises Argall as a devoted, consistent volunteer.
“We have an idea where they are coming from. We can identify why they are hiding or why they are fearful,” Hendricks said. “It gives us something to play with instead of making assumptions.”
Tom Colville, program director of veterinary technology at North Dakota State University, said scientific studies have not shown that telepathic communication exists between humans and animals.
But he said animals give off lots of nonverbal cues with their movement, posture, facial expressions and attitude, and some people are very good at reading those.
It’s a skill the staff tries to impart to students in the vet tech program, he said.
“If you’re receptive to what the animal is trying to communicate, then you can understand quite a bit,” Colville said.
Alisha Ankers of Moorhead has been friends with Argall for five years, and said both share a love of animals and interest in intuitive communication. She attended the workshop in Minneapolis with Argall.
For her, the practice is more of a hobby. “I don’t think I’m as good at it as Tara is,” Ankers said.
When Ankers has serious problems with her animals – like when her horse was losing weight and temperamental – she hires Argall to communicate with them.
In that case, the horse, Sugar, missed her stable mate, Honey. Once Honey was brought back, Sugar put the weight back on and stopped biting and kicking.
“I’m really enthusiastic about what Tara can do,” Ankers said.
Argall said she has garnered a better understanding of what animals are like through the communication. They’re spiritual, simple creatures, who understand love and forgiveness, she said.
“They look at us and think ‘You guys just muck it up so much.’ They’ve changed the way I’ve looked at life,” Argall said. “They’re great teachers.”