Like most people, I thought I knew my dog. For two years, Esther has shadowed my every move, and this time spent together had given me fair insight into her personality. Or so I thought.

Here is how I would have described Esther: she is coddled; she is a fussy eater with, nonetheless, a penchant for devouring carelessly discarded undergarments; she adores tearing after small children, furiously barking all the while, the result of which is very often tear-stained cheeks (the child’s) and profuse apologies (mine); though just two years old, she has the personality of an old lady; and, despite her somewhat aloof and persnickety personality, she loves me wholeheartedly.

Not quite so. According to animal communicator Claudia Hehr, Esther thinks I’m "okay" to live with. Just "okay." Hmmph.

In addition, Esther is "not challenged" enough. She "knows her colours" and she "needs to play more." (Point taken, Es.) She decidedly does not want a dog-sibling, but very much wishes my sister would get a dog so she would have a cousin to play with. (This, too, I can see.) Also, like most small dogs, I suspect, she is fearful of being trod on.

Furthermore, turns out in Cleopatra’s time, Esther was a well-to-do Egyptian woman; in yet another life, she was a male horse.

And now, well, she is my silly little dog, jubilantly rolling in stink, sunning herself in the window or roasting over the heating vent (perhaps well accustomed to the hot temperatures of the land of the pharaohs). The majority of her day is spent napping or shamelessly begging for whatever it is I am eating, and her evening is spent pasted to my side. I half wonder what she did wrong. And what she did right.

I have since tested out the colour theory and it turns out Hehr knew what she was talking about. The first time (okay, maybe more like the tenth, but still) I uttered "go get your pink whale" the little dog trotted back with it triumphantly. And I’m beginning to think perhaps she doesn’t have the per- sonality of an old lady; perhaps she’s simply an old soul.

Claudia Hehr has been an animal communicator for over 25 years. Using telepathy to "talk" to pets, she helps people better understand the personalities and needs of their companion animals. I recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her unique profession.

Q: How did you discover your abilities?
Claudia Hehr: I have always had a very special and close relationship with animals and have always seen and respected animals as equals and friends. Even when I was very young, I somehow knew what animals were thinking and feeling. After taking a course in telepathic animal communication, I learned how to focus my abilities better. Now I am teaching people how they can regain this ability also.

Q: How exactly does it work? Do you just "hear" their thoughts?
CH: One can communicate and have a real conversation with animals through telepathy. Telepathic messages are received in different ways, such as pictures, words, emotions, feelings, or just knowing. I am very fortunate and receive messages in many different ways.

Q: Is there a name for your ability?
CH: When we communicate with animals we use telepathy, which is also known as the universal language.

Q: Can you communicate with every dog you encounter?
CH: Yes, I can communicate with every dog and, actually, with all animals, not just dogs. Some of the species I have had the privilege to communicate with are dogs, cats, horses, fish, snakes, lizards, insects, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, tigers, bears, and many more.

Q: Does the dog have to be receptive to communicating with you?
CH: We can communicate with any animal but, just like humans, animals have to want to talk to us as well. Animals are usually relieved when I communicate with them because often they have tried for so long to tell their guardians something and they are so happy and grateful when we finally make the effort to hear what they have to say.

Q: Do dogs sometimes sense your ability and approach you, wishing to communicate something particular to their guardians or the world at large?
CH: Yes, that happens quite often. Sometimes I meet an animal that is in pain and asks me if there is something that can be done about it. For example, I recently met a dog that was experiencing pain in his leg and told me he wished he wouldn’t have to walk so far. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to walk; he just barely could because of the pain.

Q: Do dogs ever communicate something to you that you don’t want to or are embarrassed to tell their owner?
CH: When I communicate with animals I translate what the animal is saying to his or her guardian. I do not judge any information that I receive and usually there is nothing embarrassing that comes up. [But] one time I was at a fundraiser doing mini-sessions when one lady asked me something about her dog. He didn’t want to answer with everyone around being able to hear what he had to say but his guardian reassured him it was okay. He mentioned something about her underwear lying around the house, but did not get into details; he didn’t want to embarrass her.

Q: What is a personal communication session and how does it work?
CH: A personal communication session is a session between the animal’s guardians, the animal and me, during which either the guardian or the animal can ask any questions or say anything they want. At the beginning of each session I have to ask the animal first for his or her permission to talk to them. If it is a telephone session I need some information about the animal, such as species, name, and age, to be able to get in touch with him or her. If it is okay with the animal, the conversation can begin.

Q: How much does a session cost?
CH: The cost depends on how many animals you would like to communicate with and for how long, but generally, a telephone session is between a half hour and one hour and
costs between $53 and $107.

Q: What do the dogs brought to you often wish to communicate?
CH: There are many, many different topics. [They’re] just like us; we talk to every person we meet about something different. Many animals, however, are very often concerned about their guardian’s welfare, happiness, how they treat others, and how they treat themselves. Many animals have much more faith in us than we have in ourselves.

Q: Are there common complaints you encounter?
CH: Yes, one is in the area of food and the other is being left alone for too long.

Q: Was there ever an instance of a dog relating something really important they wished you to tell their guardian? If so, how did the dog owner react?
CH: Many animals actually have very important messages and information for us. Some are so profound, people actually have changed their lives after having a conversation with their animal companions.

Q: Do you have regular clients?
CH: Yes, I have clients who like to talk with their animals on a regular basis.

Q: Describe your average client.
CH: I don’t think there is an average client for me but what everyone has in common is the wish to deepen the understanding of and relationship with their animal companions.

Q: What are some of the more common questions you get asked?
CH: There are some questions that come up more often then others, for example, questions about how the animal feels about their guardian. People also often ask if their animal companions are happy, if there is something their companions would like that they don’t have and if their animal companion would like to have another animal companion join the family.

Q: Have you ever communicated with a deceased dog? Would you call this a séance?
CH: Communicating with animals that have "moved on" is a big part of my work. I don’t call it a séance; it is just a conversation with a soul that doesn’t have a physical body at the moment. It works the same way as a communication with a soul that still is in a physical body.

Q: Do you believe animals reincarnate?
CH: Absolutely, yes. Any soul can reincarnate when it wishes to do so. It is so important to always remember that there is no difference between a human and an animal. We are all souls in a physical body, a body that gives us the best ability to do what we have come to learn in this life time. We just look different.

Q: Do you believe we will we be reunited with our animals after they reincarnate? Might I come back as my dog’s dog? Would that mean I had been very good or very bad?
CH: Who or which species we come back as in our next life has only to do with the purpose that we are to accomplish and learn in that life time. It has nothing to do with good or bad. We interchange species many times. Our animals are soulmates and we usually will meet again. It is important to remember that we do not need to break up the relationship we had with our animal companions just because they have left their physical body behind. Stay in touch with your animal companion’s soul and enjoy the continuation of the wonderful relationship you had, just in a little different way.

Q: Where are dogs in the karmic ladder?
CH: Animals are on the same level as we are. Animals are not lesser beings!!! One dog I communicated with told me that he chose to be a dog to see how it felt to be treated as a subordinate so he would learn valuable lessons for his next life in which he planned to come back as a teacher.

Q: Of the dogs you’ve communicated with, which had the most interesting past life and what was it?
CH: Some of the animals I have communicated with had past lives that went back many, many centuries. All are very interesting.

Q: Have any of the dogs you’ve communicated with been a person of historical or other significance in their past lives, like, say, Chamberlain or Marilyn Monroe?
CH: One animal I frequently communicate with that has recently "moved on" has a very interesting past life that goes back all the way to Egypt, where she was very high standing and powerful. I asked her if it would be okay to write about it in more detail but she doesn’t want me to; the information she has given me was just intended for her guardians to know. Sorry, but I have to respect her wishes. (I wonder if she knew Esther?) ■

For more information on Claudia Hehr, visit or pick up a copy of If Only Animals Could Talk…