Giving a Voice to Corvallis’s Pets

While attending a workshop for animal communicators at the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Scio, one participant spent her day with the mules. 

When the group reconvened at the end of the day, she told the group, “I’m kinda embarrassed to say what I got because it’s so wild. But they showed me flying. They showed me they were flying through the air.” 

The group later asked a sanctuary worker about this, and he told them, “Those mules got airlifted out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon. They were the last pack mules there.”

Janine Kobel, an animal communicator in Corvallis, told me this story as we sat in some shade at Riverfront Park. Zephyr, a very relaxed long-coat Chihuahua also joined us, sitting in Kobel’s lap and occasionally peeking up to look at me or letting some bigger dogs know she was there.

When Kobel first heard about animal communication, her response was, “What?! That’s a thing!?” 

Her excitement led to Kobel spending four years studying with Terri O’Hara, of Animalwize in Eugene, which included a year-long apprenticeship. As the teacher, Terri would verify what Kobel and other students were getting from the animals, preparing them to facilitate their own sessions with people and their pets. Kobel has had her own practice since 2012 and has monthly check-ins with former classmates to discuss any difficult cases.  

A typical session for Kobel begins with 30 to 40 minutes of meditation. 

As she described it, “I try to turn off my brain and move into my heart because that’s where the intuitive center is. The brain is more judgmental and you can end up judging what you’re doing and thinking.”  

10 minutes before the session, Kobel takes out a picture of the animal she’s working with (let’s say it’s a dog) and starts introducing herself to them, letting them know she is there to help facilitate communication between it and their human. 

“Sometimes the response is like, ‘I don’t know. This is weird.’ And other times the feeling I get is ‘Let’s do it! This is exciting!’ and other times they’re like ‘Really?! You can talk to me?!’”   

During the session, Kobel begins by asking the person how the dog came into their life or something they really love about the dog. 

Kobel says, “This gets them into their heart.” 

While the person relays these things, Kobel is also communicating with the dog, asking if the humans account matches their experience.  Sometimes the animals agree with their humans and sometimes they don’t.

One person who came to Kobel wanted to know why their cat was biting them. The cat communicated to Kobel that it’s because sometimes he would get startled and other times he just didn’t want to be pet. Kobel suggested that the cat bite a toy instead. The cat then realized that he wanted to play more, something the owner didn’t do much of.  

Kobel describes herself as being like a detective, “I just ask a lot of questions and try to narrow things down.” 

Maybe she gets something from a dog that doesn’t sound right to the person.  Kobel can then relay this to the dog and asks for more information. Sometimes it ends up going nowhere. Other times they can narrow down the message and get out what the animal is trying to communicate.

When this technique doesn’t work, Kobel will have the person follow up later, usually with positive results. This feedback helps Kobel see when she is communicating well and when she is wrong.  

Kobel told me she receives communications from the animals intuitively through “pictures or actions through little movies. I can taste and smell. I get emotions and physical sensations. So all of the senses plus emotions.”  

To the skeptics, this probably sounds farfetched. But there has been some research in this area, which, of course, has been highly contested.

One of the more controversial experiments done on human-animal communication involved Aimee Morgana and the parrot N’Kisi. During the years they lived together, N’Kisi had developed an impressive vocabulary of more than 700 words and could create novel sentences.  Aimee claimed that N’Kisi would also say things that she only thought of. A double-blind study was set up by the biologist Rupert Sheldrake to test this.   

In one room, Aimee looked at photos and, in another room, N’Kisi was free to say whatever he liked. N’Kisi was silent or said words prompted by objects in the room, like “camera” during 78 of the 149 trials. These trials were determined to be statically insignificant. During the 71 other trials, what N’Kisi said corresponded to the photo Aimee was looking at 23 times. He would also often repeat these words more than others. Had N’Kisi merely been saying things at random, he would have only agreed with Aimee about 7 or 8 times.

Critics noted that the 78 trials should not have been excluded when working out the stats. Sheldrake, however, claimed that this is common practice in tests involving animals and children who are unable to understand the parameters of the experiments or follow instructions.

With or without strict scientific backing, Kobel has gotten plenty of positive feedback to let her know she’s on the right track. Besides, general “How are you doing?” kind of session, Kobel has also done session with animals who aren’t feeling well. One woman who contacted Kobel was fostering a cat with digestive problems. The cat told Kobel that it’s stomach was “burning up” and how it didn’t want to take the antibiotics and other medicine it was being given. The one thing the cat did like was the probiotics. At the cat’s next vet visit, the vet put what the cat had said into its medical chart and followed the cats desires. After a couple weeks, the cat got better. The vet office then began referring others to Kobel if they were seeking another perspective.  

So far, Kobel’s business has been word-of-mouth, but as she retires in a few years, she wants to devote more time to being an animal communicator along with narration and life coaching.

Kobel can be reached at

 By Andy Hahn

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