Pet Sounds

Straight talk from the animal whisperer

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.

Do dogs make fun of us? Is it possible to reason with a bear if the need suddenly arises? In search of some answers, senior editor SAM MOULTON recently phoned interspecies communicator Penelope Smith, whose newest book, Animals in Spirit: Our Faithful Companions’ Transition to the Afterlife (Atria, $14), hits stores in January.

Want It? Get It.

Buy Animals in Spirit at Amazon.

OUTSIDE: When did you first start talking with animals?

SMITH: I’ve had the ability all my life. We’re all born with it, but most people are socialized out of it.

So I might be able to communicate with, say, a grizzly, if I’m out on the trail?

It’s a hard thing when you’re dealing with a predator animal, particularly if you startle them. But ahead of time, I would send out a message to the bears: I really appreciate that this is your territory, and I don’t want to harm you. I won’t do anything that is going to hurt you.

Would you still carry pepper spray?

I would have the physical things ready, but I would also do the telepathic.

What about dogs? When I walk my dog, Rosco, I always pick up his poop. Think he finds that funny?
Dogs do have a sense of humor. But let me see exactly what he thinks about it. [Short pause while she tunes in with Rosco, who was sleeping—or so I thought—at home.] He doesn’t think, Isn’t he silly? He knows what you’re doing. He says it’s because other people will get mad at you if you don’t. Rosco is very bright.

We’ve known that for a long time. He hasn’t started talking yet, though …
Some dogs do talk out loud. My dog talks in English. It’s hard for dogs to form words with their mouths, but she goes, Hoo hoo hoo hoo. It sounds like that: “I want some food.” They don’t need to talk if you communicate telepathically, but they try hard.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

promo logo