updated 05/04/2009 AT 6:43 PM ET
•originally published 05/05/2009 AT 7:40 AM ET
Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying when he meows? Or what your dog is trying to tell you when he howls? Tim Link, the author of the new book Wagging Tales: Every Animal Has a Tale–Conversations with Our Animal Friends, may be able to tell you.
A onetime telecommunications executive, Link says he discovered an ability to meditate and pick up “energy” from animals while at a workshop in 2004 with renowned animal communicator Judi Byers. Now he works with his “gift” full time, helping owners solve problems with their pets, from unused litter boxes to unseen medical conditions. PEOPLE Pets recently made its own connection with Link, and got the scoop on how he helps owners and their pets build stronger relationships.
You said it was at a workshop that you found you could communicate with animals. Can you tell us more about that moment?
We basically just asked questions to the animals. We focused in on them, and every single question I answered was 100 percent accurate [based on feedback from owners]. I was like, “That’s cool.” People brought in their dogs and cats, so we got to understand the difference in working with the energy of the animals in person versus pictures. That’s sort of how it happened. From there, the gift continued to grow. I started working with friends’ pets. We were getting more involved with pet rescue. I let a few of them know and worked with those animals. A couple years ago a friend from the Humane Society “outed” me.
Do you think we all have an ability to speak to animals?
We are all born with an ability to communicate without using verbal language. If you ask the mother how she knew what her child was trying to say, she’d just say she had a connection with her child. Animals communicate on a telepathic level. If birds are flying in formation, they shift formation without speaking. The challenge is as we get past 5 or 6 years old, we’re taught to speak in a certain fashion, we get caught up in life, school, cars, trips, families. We tend to lose our focus and our centering. For some of us, we can get back to that state, to hear that heart and mind connection.
Please break down how the actual process works.
We do a consultation. You’ll send a picture of your pet. You’ll give me the name of the pet. Before we get on the phone, I calm myself. I go through my sense of meditations and calming, clearing myself out, getting rid of the “monkey mind” so I can receive what you and the animal are giving me. Then you’re asking me [your concern ], whether it’s a behavior change, maybe they’ve stopped eating, could be a cat stopped using the litter box. I take that information and I ask those questions to the animal [and say], “Show me what you see and what you’re feeling.” They respond back to me in the fashion that they’re comfortable communicating, as well as how they think I can best understand as a simple human. They’re giving me back information, sometimes in words, [like] “smelly.” Maybe the litter isn’t being changed as often as should be. “Feels weird.” Maybe the type of litter has changed. Sometimes they’ll give me the smell and sometimes I can smell what they’re smelling. It’s intense and helpful, [but] can be unpleasant at times. If they have a hurt front leg, when I’m connected with that animal, I’ll get a sensation in my right arm or hand. Then I will thank the animal and disconnect.
Does the person need to be near the animal at the moment?
They don’t need to be near the animal. I like to let them do what they feel comfortable doing. Often [the animal] will come into the room. Sometimes they’ll do something spiteful or they want to defend themselves. It’s interesting. I prefer having a photo that shows the face and eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul. It’s really about the energy. If you have a dog and your dog’s name is Charlie, when you say Charlie, you have an image of Charlie in your head. I can sort of see what you’re seeing when we’re talking about Charlie. It’s the energy.
Tell me about your company.
Wagging Tales, it’s just my wife and myself right now. I left corporate America at the end of ‘07. I incorporated the business. We put up a Web site, did PR work. I left 20 years in telecom. The company started going gangbusters. In May 2008 we had so much work to do that my wife left her job. It’s a combination of me doing phone consultations, I travel and do speaking engagements, travel to people in the Atlanta area. We still do quite a bit with rescue organizations. I have people from France, Australia, all over the United States.
Do you see common misunderstandings between animals and their owners?
I think that there are common problems. When dealing with cats, I’m going to have the litter box. With horse, it’s stomach or hoofs. I always tell people to communicate with your animals. You tell them what the situation is, what you need them to do about it, and why it’s going to be a good thing. It’s a lot like talking to their children. You’re not talking to them in a childish manner. It’s being clear about what you want, [like talking to] Fluffy [about] the litter box: “I understand you don’t want to use the litter box because I’ve changed the litter. Fluffy, I understand that you don’t like the new litter because it smells and it doesn’t feel good. What I need you to do is use your litter box until I can get to the store.” I’m visualizing myself going to the store, I imagine her using the litter, I come home with the new litter. I’m being very clear, then you’re visualizing, similar to an athlete. Imagine the free throw shot, or a golfer making a putt. That’s what I tell people. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your pet, then just think it.
Can you tell us about one of your most interesting cases?
The story revolves around Luke, a cat/ I petted Luke and tried to see how he was doing. I felt some real tingling and pressures in his internal areas. Kidneys, bladder; I get these sensations when there’s a blockage. It’s just an energy connection I have with him. I asked the owner if he had any problems. She said, “No, there’s no problems.” I asked again and said Luke was showing me a problem in the kidney area. I went on to see if his diet had changed, she said he had been drinking more. She said, “I had some blood work done on him there months ago and he was fine.” I said, “If there’s a kidney infection, they can crop up pretty quick.” I said, “Take him in and get some blood work.” Long story short, he uncovered some kidney problems. An early detection of kidney failure. They immediately put him on antibiotics and a different diet. After a couple weeks he started feeling better. It’s been almost a year and he’s not had a problem.
So is it overwhelming for you, walking down the street or even being at a zoo?
Early on it was like a Dr. Doolittle episode. At first I was getting every animal in the wild. I literally had to go back to Judi Byers and say, “Hey, look, this is really nice, but I need to turn it off.” She was like, “Well, the bad news is it’s there. The gift is there.” She gave me tools to turn it off.