Listening to Fido

A Different Kind of A.I.

Doug seems calm, alert, and very official in his green Delta Society vest. "He knows that he's working [when he wears it], and he's so proud," says Therlby. The school's entire staff of specialists greets Doug with huge enthusiasm, as do the students who have private sessions with him. A 12th-grade girl with tuberous sclerosis, resulting in mental and physical disabilities, relaxes her disused right hand to pet and brush Doug. A sixth-grade boy who is silent and unresponsive in class takes the dog through a series of commands, "training" him using eye contact, hand signals, and a clear voice—not coincidentally, exactly the skills his teachers are trying to build in him.

Throughout his time in the classroom, Doug is obedient and affable, if not exactly psychic. But his owner insists that his intuition can be uncanny. "There was a time when a boy came in and Doug just went crazy greeting him, jumping up and licking his face. He'd never done that before. And the boy was smiling and they were playing for a while, and after he left, I asked the teachers what was wrong with him, because it wasn't clear to me. And they said he was severely depressed, he never smiled, he never responded to anyone. I couldn't have figured it out. But Doug knew." Therlby sounds like any proud pet owner—and the potential she sees in Doug has just begun to be tapped.

illustration: Paige Imatani

JULIE RICH, pet communicator,

RAE RAMSEY, animal communicator,, rae@ramseycommunication. com

CHRISTINE DEVENNEY, animal communicator, clairvoyant, and energy healer, 866-230-5838

THE HEALING POWER OF PETS, Dr. Marty Becker with Danielle Morton, Hyperion Books, 2002


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