When a dog adopted from Portland's Rescue Faerie started lashing out at his elderly new parent, volunteer Renee Stilson knew who to call.
Bridget Pilloud is a pet psychic, and according to Stillson, she's one of the best in the business. She'd worked wonders for Stillson when her own cat was pooping outside the litter box, and again when her rabbit wouldn't stop compulsively digging. Stillson asked Pilloud if she could talk to the dog.
"He told Bridget he didn't want to be with someone needy who'd just lost their animal. He needed someone who was already secure, who didn't need him," says Stillson. Following Pilloud's advice, Rescue Faerie was able to place the troubled dog with new parents, who were advised not to push the dog too hard. "They were exactly what he needed. He's doing great," Stillson says. "It was one of our biggest success stories."
Pilloud, 48, is booked up a month in advance even at $150 an hour. She often communes with an animal from her farm outside Vancouver, Wash., after receiving only a photo of the animal. After 15 years, she says her work has done a lot of good. She wouldn't do such a taxing job without feeling she was helping people.
"The stigma and mysticism around most spiritual occupations exist because people can make more money from this if it seems like magic. It's not magic," she says. "People don't talk about this, but there are a lot of mediums and psychics who get a big ego thump from feeling like they can do something someone else can't do. We all intuitively 'talk' with our pets. We pick up a lot about how they are feeling, what they want, etc. What I do, anybody can do. It's like running. There are people who can step out their door and run a marathon without ever practicing."
Pilloud spoke to WW how she got into this line of work and what it involves.
WW: Are you a psychic who does pets only, or do you also deal with people?
Bridget Pilloud: I used to do some work with people, but I really work only with pets now. Doing intuitive work, I compare it to being an athlete. Any good athlete can do different sports, but they usually specialize in one that they're really good at. Intuitives are the same way. I focus on pets.
Are there certain pets you can't read?
I would refer to it as "talk with" rather than read. I can talk with pretty much any animal. Some animals have pretty limited cognitive abilities, so talking with the fish or talking with bugs is pretty difficult and probably wouldn't really be perceived as talking with. More like just relating to.
So when you talk to a gorilla, for example, is it the same as talking to a child?
I think there's a wide variety of cognitive abilities in animals. When I think about my own pets, I have a dog that has great cognitive ability and great language ability, and she's a pretty deep thinker. And then I have another one that, he's really like living with a caveman. I don't think he can put more than two words together.
When did you become aware you had this ability?
I had a dog who was a horribly behaved dog. I had taken her to the vet, taken her to the trainer, taken her to see an animal behaviorist. I hired an animal communicator, because I didn't know what else to do. She changed our experience. She literally just changed everything in an hour and a half about how I perceived that dog and the dog perceived me.
After that, I had an experience where a dog we recently adopted was grieving her former home. I woke up in the middle of the night, she was sitting up in her bed, and I just felt this really deep sadness. And so I said, out loud, "What's going on?" And she said "What did I do? What did I do to end up here?" She'd gone from this really wonderful home—her owner had met somebody who didn't like dogs. He'd ditched his dog for this woman, and she ended up at our house. So that stunned me.
You understand many would be doubtful of this. What do you say to skeptics?
I usually say something to be effect of: "That's fine, you don't have to believe me. I don't blame you, there's lots of things that I don't believe in that other people do." If you haven't experienced it, why would you believe it? That seems like a normal reaction.
Sometimes I come across someone who believes that because I believe this, I'm open to everything. They'll talk to me about their time on the astral plane, and I'll be like, "Wow, I have just entered a whole field of bullshit that I don't believe in."
I absolutely understand I have no room to talk. And yet, on the other hand, what she's saying is obviously crazy.
What types of people call you?
One of the primary reasons why people hire me is because they have a behavioral situation with a pet. I was working with a cat last week who lives here in Portland, who was starting to have what I would call a protest poop. He was pooping outside of the box.
I went to talk with the cat—his name is Sam. He didn't sound like a little child, he knew exactly what he was doing. The thing he said to me was, "It's unfortunate that it's come to this."
The message he was trying to get a across was that he didn't like that his owners were leaving dirty clothes on the floor of their bedroom. The bedroom's the nest—that's the safest place in the house—and if it has a lot of scent to it, it would cause predators to go there.
I said, "Well, are you really experiencing a lot of predators on the Southwest Waterfront?" And he's like, "No, but I smell them."
Do you ever get asked to speak to pets on the other side?
There was a dog named Neo who lived in Portland. He had passed away at a fairly young age from heart disease. His mom wanted to connect to make sure he was OK on the other side. It is very frightening when our pets die. We do really worry about them.
[Neo] kept showing me the New Seasons grocery store. He kept showing me boxes of cereal. He said, "Yeah, tell her I have all the cereal I want."
I said OK. I didn't know this dog.
She knew about eight months before he was going to die that he had this congestive heart disease that was going to kill him. So she just decided to give him whatever he wanted, and he really liked cereal, so he had a bowl of cereal in the morning every day until he died. So the reason why he shared those things with me, I think, was to help her realize that he was OK on the other side. I think it's important for some people to experience that.