Raised in a traditional family in the 50's, with parents who were there with ready and deed and with their house, to help humans and animals, since I could walk, animals (see picture) play a big part in my life.
Even though my brothers and sisters were very different: animals and I understood each other completely. Being raised in such a pedagogic environment, where the mind was strongly focused on solidarity, it becomes the most normal thing in the world to be prepared to help humans and animals when necessary, and that you learn to trust that most humans and animals are also prepared to help you, when necessary, within their abilities. Until puberty, we lived at the edge of a town, so although not really outside, there was plenty to do with dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, goats and the variegated bird population, that lives in such a village as well. Already in my childhood there was our dog, who obviously seemed to know when I got into trouble at home, or somewhere in the neighborhood: then, suddenly, it was there. And legendary were the long summer holidays, when the neighborhood kids and us trained on clown- and acrobatics acts, and besides, for days, taught all the pets that we could gather "acts", always for a few hours a day. At the end of the holidays, we held a circus performance for the whole neighborhood (although this is a sort of activity with animals that is not propagated on this website…). Already young, I spent most of my holidays with helping in an animal shelter, or in an animal pension. And, later, it had to be veterinary medicine as my study; this logical idealism helped me get through most of the training, until I had to give in to the, then, so-called modern mathematics. But, as an assistant of a veterinarian for years, who was open to my alternative suggestions and treatments/acts, I overtook the damage nicely at a later time.
Are animals dumb?
When we moved to a rural village with still many small farms, close to the Randstad when I was 15, the true life started. Suddenly there were many more animals and species -and the nicest thing was: we lived in the middle of all of this, we participated in all of this. A helping hand at this or that farm was always appreciated, and in doing so we learned a lot about the motives and insights of the farmers, about the customs, and about the animals. Because I was not the type that takes for granted everything another person tells her, I soon had the questions "why?" or "why not?", where it came to the restrictions that were attributed to, and imposed, on the animals. They did not seem to reflect, they could only do this or that, you had to beware in certain situations or they would harm you, they only knew their own farmer and the hands they were fed with.
So, animals were dumb. Almost everyone in the village was Roman Catholic and this "the crown of creation", and the power of these thoughts was very strong. This way, the villagers kept thinking that animals were dumb. This was spoken, and thus, the beliefs and the reality of the others were transmitted onto you, unintentionally indoctrinated. I decided to investigate this myself by observing animals, to communicate with them, and "to see the outcome". Between the daily duties of school, and later work, and other social contacts, I have persevered for dozens of years. Then you get a completely different belief of animal interests and capabilities, than most of the scientists seem to work with: animals are our brothers and sisters, they only differ in branches of evolution. They should be able to develop on these branches. But the dumb human being makes this impossible for many animals by the way they are denied and withheld the right to be who they are in freedom, and to appeal their opportunities. Besides, that human being raises his children to keep thinking like that. We saw that different at home, and this thought ensured that we had always kept pets but also we had a diverse collection of animals that for some reason needed a place, understanding, and care. Later, they retrieved freedom and a place between congeners, whey they were ready to take care of themselves. The residential offered the space and opportunity for this, and for us this was a gift from heaven.
Are animals intelligent?
In general, in my experience, animals and sometimes young animals in particular (dogs, cats, sheep, lambs, calves, piglets, ducklings, pouts and chickens, rabbits, hamsters and even the turtle, who had been our guest for a long time), have a greater intelligence, rationally and socially, than has been attributed to them. The environment in which I came to the best conclusions, was years of ordinary family life with children and with a lively, big garden: amidst the farms. Most of the previously mentioned animals could walk in and out freely in the daytime, which means in and out of their (night) residence, the garden, the house, or the neighborhood. Many species of young animals that -newborn or hatched- lost their mother, have been raised with the active help of my sheep dog, husband and children. And precisely in this domestic environment, that was not quite "natural" for, for example lambs, ducklings, piglets or a turtle, it became well visible that all those animals, and the humans, recognized and acknowledged each other as members of a family. Each of them turned out to possess its specific, practical, intelligence (like "how to open a door?" and if you cannot do it yourself "who to fetch who can do it?" or "what noise to make in order to open the door?"). As well as you can give a dog or a cat an instruction with words:"no, do not touch" (we think it is normal that a dog or a cat understands this), it turns out that you can do this as well with a lamb, that is barely a few days old, and that hops through your room: friendly and convincing, using simple language: "no, do not do that!" or "come here" or "please, move aside". And the lamb does exactly what is the purpose. It does not do it fearfully, it does not do it confused, no: it does it with comprehension, and politely. Also, piglets are intelligent in this respect, are open to new impressions and experiences, are ready to listen, and to act accordingly. These were the life experiences, that made our your children decide to stop eating meat. That vegetarianism existed as a lifestyle, and that the people concerned, assigned great value to it, I was not really aware, and I did not transfer this to my family. Already for a long time, I used to limit my meat consumption to moderation and to meat of animals, that, kept by a family member, had had a very good and free life. Also in myself, the habit was entrenched to consider eating meat as "normal". And thus, the kids, who were closer to the good intentions of life, made our family a vegetarian family in a very short time.
The power of a thought
Once come so far in communicating with animals, I kept looking for, and reading about, the experiences of other people. People like Konrad Lorenz, for example, or Barbara Woodhouse, or Focco Huisman. Already then I was aware of the existence of leylines, magnetic fields and the energetic processes that take place in the brain: the carrier waves of cellular and atomic consciousness, for the transfer of sorts of information, both in language concepts as in feelings.
At that time, it turned me to practice and, by all means, to communicate "in the mind" with my own animals, with the sheep and calves of our neighbors, and with a single horse and no longer only with speech or gestures.
This did barely, or not, succeed with the physically very small animals, but it did succeed very well with the bigger (more intelligent?) animals. As I once "thought" the herd, when it had to move from its small camp next to the form to the meadows outside the village, after lambing, with the livestock trailer, within a minute or so into this trailer, after four farmers had hunted after them for fifteen minutes. It works simple: you focus your look onto the ewe who is the leader, and project onto her "in the mind" with power of thought, calmness, contentedness, and visual images of a big, big meadow with lots of grass, and you try to send the feeling to her that it is GOOD. In the middle of the stampede that was going on, with her in front, she refrained, stopped, looked right into my eyes for perhaps a whole second (I was standing somewhere else in that camp), shifted course and moved towards the ramp of the trailer in ordinary run, followed by the rest of the flock, and the lambs. End of problem. And I knew the flock would be happy to retrieve the space after months, after all, you won't lie to an animal. Apparently, this ewe had received my thought-message directly, completely and flawlessly, or failure-free, and understood it immediately. The farmers laughed, because everything had suddenly, still, turned out fine. I left it so, and held on the feeling of peace and wonder, that there are power lines on Mother Earth, from which you can "just" make use, and with which you can send information, can do a favor to a fellow creature, at that very moment.
Honesty lasts longest
The previous is just an example of a longer series of similar experiences, to encourage animals to certain actions, what seemed to make an end of a problem the best way. Others especially used this method to know from a sick animal itself, where it hurts, what happened and what the animal wants now. Small animals you can pick up when necessary, and put down where they have to be, but with big animals like pinks, heifers, cows, pigs or horses, this is not always simple. I do think that this form of communication needs a real goal; for the daily "good morning, how are you?" you can just use speech to your animals. Even though they do not know the meaning of these words, they recognize a friendly message, which suffices.
When I heard my neighbor swear at that time, and saw him trying to get together his sheep, I knew that the purpose was to get them to the big meadow. Living like this for so many years, you start to know. But what did the sheep think? Four running guys were a big disturbance anyway, of the life of the sheep with their lambs, in that camp.
I had an "advantage": I knew the goal. The goal was not wrong, however the method was: no understanding at all for the situation and uncertainty of the flock. As if an animal is too stupid to think "something" about itself and its situation, and will go crazy. So although I did not belong there at that moment, I wanted to intervene from rational and emotional motives. To communicate "in the mind" then combines ratio and emotions. In your message you can sense a warmth (poor animals, being so frightened), and transmit that warmth to gain the trust of the leader of the flock. She knew me, but not close. The goal, all moving into the trailer calmly, was best for all parties after all.
Because we are not used to thought communication, and this is an invisible and inaudible form of information that, however, can influence another being, I think that utter honesty is necessary before you begin with it. Is your motive in the interest of the animal? Besides, it is no activity to lightly deal with, because it strongly appeals to the frontal brain in a special way, so that I often had a headache for an hour.
The event that serves as an example, certainly knows a little self-interest. When you see others suffer, you suffer too (for a bit). If you can neutralize or soothe this suffering, than this is also in your interest: it "gives a good, thankful feeling". To know suffering elsewhere, of a human or an animal, and not have the power to reduce this suffering, deprives you of your "human dignity" bit by bit. A human being should not stay unmoved by suffering and impotence of another. This should (from his innate, benign, social nature) be beneath his dignity: he or she should be able to help. The information society has made this more and more impossible in practical terms: the bad news pours in, and what should we do with it? And thus, we eventually lose, day by day, bit by bit, our dignity, and we dull: because we have to be spectators. So it is very logical that there are all kinds of lively action groups, because not everyone wants to keep spectating.
Where and when I was able to help an animal, or a group of animals, at a strenuous and non-everyday way, it was like the universe reacted with letting an intense feeling of gratitude, descend into my heart. Grateful because I accidentally was there, when I was needed. A feeling of luck, whereby an unspeakable soft peace descends on me, which is closely linked with the awareness that something special has happened. If your own dog or horse is sick, or is wounded, and you help such an animal, it is not odd that the animal allows this. But if an animal that does not know me, especially an animal from the wild, allows me at that moment, without biting or fleeing, then my humility and thankfulness for this event is hard to express in words. Then, I am far on the way (I think) to this feeling of totally being one with all life around me, of blending into "all that breathes". It is in this primeval consciousness, Indians apparently lived permanently, and also the stories of the Aboriginals point to an existence amidst the universal consciousness until the very present day. We Westerners have lost this en masse, but I know it still exists.
Not only the (very) special encounters with animals fascinate me. I can also enjoy intensively the animals that live here on a daily basis. After all, they turn out to have unsuspected ideas and behaviors again and again, and so you keep laughing, learning and amazing yourself. But especially because of their rarity, unexpected moments in nature with animals will nevertheless keep to themselves, remaining with each who befell. The aura and appearance of the human who participated in such a thing in the forest or the field, with a predator or a prey, who would like to have a better look at him, this human has to emit something reassuring: something benign -because else the animal was already gone for sure. So even though such an encounter in a habitat that is not ours is a big peculiarity: I think it is always you, who by appearance and the feeling that you evoke, is responsible for what an animal "understands" from you, when it chooses not to run. Because where it is argued that the Big Spirit "is in all things", there, thoughts are forces.
Mieke Ruijzendaal februari 2003.