In Loving Paws & Hooves

By: Nancy A. Kaiser


For as long as I can remember, I have loved animals. Collies were my family’s dog-of-choice until my college days when my brother found two Labradors roaming through town. He cared for them until their people, who were local breeders, retrieved them, no pun intended. In appreciation, he was given a puppy, which soon turned into two – Duke and Duchess. Our family has had nothing but Labradors since. They are just the most wonderful canine companions.


My love of horses was apparent from the beginning. My mother used to take me to the County Park system to longingly gaze at the horses until I was old enough to begin riding lessons at age eight. Five years later, my dream of a horse of my own came true. Since then, I’ve always had horses in my life. As my skills improved, I climbed the ranks of the show world, riding jumpers until I graduated from Rutgers College of Pharmacy in ’75.


Several years after graduating, I married my horse vet and left pharmacy to manage our equine hospital and breeding farm in central New Jersey. For 27 years, I cared for many horses, both our clients’ and our own, my Labs, and any number of barn cats. Leaving pharmacy was the best thing for me. It put me back in touch with animals on a day-to-day basis. I belonged on a farm surrounded by horses.


Just after I turned 42 years old, I met one of the most influential animals in my life. Her name was Because Of Love. She was a Quarter Horse filly foal, who taught me that my life’s purpose involved telepathic animal communication and healing. Love only stayed in this life for four short months, but those astonishing months changed the course of my life forever.


Over the next year, I began telepathically communicating with animals and learning several innovative healing modalities that I continue to use almost 20 years later. During one of my earlier communication sessions for a client, I channeled information about her pet. We learned that companion animals had come into being in order to answer our souls’ cries for help. Life on Earth is very difficult, and our animals come to help us maneuver through it.


This was no surprise to me. I’d always felt that my animals took better care of me than I of them. This insight from the Universe totally resonated with my experiences. My reasoning resided in the fact that my care dealt with their physical needs– food, water, housing, medications, etc. Of course, I loved them, but my efforts were focused on the physical level. Being educated as a pharmacist emphasizes the physical. Not until I began my communication and healing work did I completely realize our mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.


Life on our farm was filled with unending responsibilities. We saved the lives of many horses and foals and lost others. With each loss, a small part of me left with them. After I became an animal communicator, I was better able to understand and accept the losses. I became cognizant of much that occurs beyond the physical. My dear Labs, Ben followed by Shadow and Licorice, worked side-by-side with me every day. I was blessed over the years to have foaled (birthed) many mares for clients and had seven foals of my own. Each new soul that comes into this world is a miracle, and it’s a genuine privilege to assist with its arrival.


Eight years ago, the role of my animal-family took on massive importance after my husband retired and we moved to the mountains of North Carolina. Six weeks into construction of our dream home, he walked out leaving me 600 miles from everyone I knew without a home or a job. I had entered the most traumatic time in my life – my “dark night of the soul.” Seven months later, we were divorced after 29 years together. I was stunned and distraught.


Engulfed in an emotional maelstrom, I felt betrayed and abandoned on the side of a mountain, living with my two 13-year-old Labrador brothers, Shadow and Licorice. I had moved four barn cats but had lost one to possible poisoning on the mountain; Butch, Bandit, and Crystal remained. My two-year-old horse, Stormy, was living 126 miles away in Greensboro. My husband wouldn’t dare challenge me for any of the animals. He knew I considered them my children. We could divvy up all the assets equally, but the animals were off-limits.


I was 53 years old, experiencing emotions I’d never felt before. From my years of communication work on the farm, I knew just how detrimental negative emotions are for the animals within the family. I kept telling my dear old Labs not to take it on. I could handle it myself. They knew better than I what I could and couldn’t handle. I leaned on Shadow and Licorice more than ever before for comfort and love. And they offered it selflessly. I simply wouldn’t have survived without them.


Even my cats, who were primarily outdoor cats, took up the cause. After purchasing a house for us , my little Crystal slept with me every night for the first year. Prior to this, she had stayed inside at night only a little through the winter but never during the other seasons. Just hearing her purr was so soothing for my battered soul. Her presence made the king bed feel a little less empty.


Four months after our separation, I moved Stormy to a beautiful barn about 20 miles from my new house. Being able to spend time with him on this gorgeous property allowed me some respite from my reign of negativity. Staying in the moment is imperative while working with horses, especially young horses. If you don’t, you risk injury. Being able continue to do what I’d done for most of my life helped me find myself again. Away from the barn, I’d revert back to the victim, which lasted for quite some time.


I had become the needy one, the one that required an inordinate amount of care. Not physical care, but mental, emotional, and spiritual care. It was imperative for me to follow my own advice to clients, “Don’t feel guilty about your animal taking on your negative emotions. Guilt is just more negativity, so you create an unending loop between you and your pet.” Ha, easier said than done.


Training Stormy was a vital component to my healing. The time spent with him on his peaceful farm nourished my soul. Being surrounded by horses was so natural for me. I was so comfortable there. The horse farm was an escape from the rest of my life, which was out of control. Stormy was attempting to teach me as much as I was training him. He reflected lessons that my soul was struggling to get me to acknowledge. I must admit that Stormy was progressing much quicker than I, but Stormy and my soul hung in there. My animal friends were patient and didn’t give up on their slow student. Eventually, I began to recognize the Truths they were endeavoring to teach me.


Dear Shadow and Licorice lived until almost 15 years old – longer than any of my previous dogs. Shadow, my soulmate, was the first to leave. I’d been journaling about my challenges since leaving New Jersey in hopes of learning what my soul was attempting to teach me. When Shadow alerted me that he was ready to return to Spirit, I was devastated. But, I knew it signaled that a significant amount of healing and growth had been attained; otherwise, he wouldn’t leave me. He sensed that I was finally strong enough to cope with his loss. I wasn’t so sure, but Shadow knew best.


Five months later, Licorice was ready to make his transition. Licorice had waited as long as necessary. He was aware that in two weeks two new caretakers were coming to join the family. Somehow Licorice knew he was leaving me in good “paws” – just another of the Universe’s miracles. The loss of Shadow and Licorice coincided with the culmination of my journey of healing and transformation and my emergence from my Abyss and Tunnel.


The timely arrival of the next generation of Labrador brothers, Hana and Saba, was perfection. They brought into my life exactly what had been missing for many, many years – the exuberant and blissful nature of a child. The responsibilities of my life on the farm, caring for everyone (except me), had stolen the joy for life that they now reflected back to me.


Soon after their arrival, Saba taught me so profoundly about forgiveness that I was brought to tears. Although he loved water, he hated rain. I’d gotten quite ill and was struggling with house-breaking the pups. Nature brought us much needed rain, which complicated Saba’s education. Instead of doing his business quickly like Hana, Saba would refuse to go out in the rain. I’d accompany him, but have him stubbornly sit by my feet under the umbrella.


Running very low on strength and patience, I picked Saba up and screamed at him as we headed into the house. Buried anger rose up from deep within me. Saba’s loving eyes pierced my heart. His questioning look was filled with confusion. Instantly, I felt ashamed and guilty for my indiscretion. How could I expect a ten-week-old pup to understand? I’d been berating myself for my inexcusable outburst when Saba flopped down on top of my foot. Saba’s show of affection and support caused the tears to erupt with his powerful lesson in forgiveness. Something I’d been struggling with for two years, Saba accomplished within an hour.


Raising Hana and Saba and training dear Stormy were essential to my complete recovery from my Ex’s betrayal. Slowly over the past few years, I have become the woman I was meant to be. I learned more from this period in my life than my first 53 years. I am once more confident, happy, and blessed to work as an animal communicator and healer. Thanks to the lessons and support from my animal-family, I have published two award-winning books with a third soon to come.


Whatever care I’ve given the animals over my life cannot compare to what I’ve received from them. Being alone for the first time in my life was terrifying for me. Having my animals with me allowed me to get through each day – one day at a time. My work with the animals taught me about reincarnation, which gives transition a whole new meaning. There was a point when I considered ending my life. I was that dark and depressed. But, I couldn’t. Who would take care of my animals? That’s how important they are to me. As I said earlier – they are my children.


My dear cats have all transitioned now, but Hana and Saba, now six years old, are on duty and will be for a long time to come. Stormy turned ten years old this year. My time with Stormy is more beneficial than any form of therapy. These are the three wise men in my life. They continue to teach, care for, comfort, and love me unconditionally. I couldn’t ask for more. Each day, my heart is held in loving paws and hooves. I am honored and blessed to have been chosen to be their person. They are simply my best friends!


Nancy A. Kaiser lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her two Labrador brothers and her Swedish Warmblood horse. She operates “Just Ask” Communications, a business devoted to healing the human-animal bond through enhanced communication and understanding. Nancy is an award-winning author of two books, Letting Go: An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Journey of Healing & Transformation and Tales of an Animal Communicator ~ Master Teachers. Visit her Website:

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker