Paula Davis sensed the grief of a mourning dove in her yard a few years ago, and began a conversation that would change her life, she said.
The little bird that ached for its mate left her yard a few weeks later, Davis said, but her fascination with animal communication remained.
After years of study, practice and what she calls "tuning in," Davis is a full-time animal communicator who can report on a dog's final wishes and whether your Lab likes tennis balls.
"I'll go to a barbecue and people will have their dogs there -- I'd rather talk to the dogs," Davis said Sunday sitting under a tree at the Humane Society of Utah.
Talking to the dogs was just what she offered this weekend at a fundraising event for the animal shelter in Murray. Raider, a Jack Russell terrier, loves his name but doesn't want to wear dog clothing. And that big black dog he sometimes visits? Yes, that's a friend.
With each passing "communication" between Davis and Raider, she looked hard at the dog and then looked away. Raider didn't seem in the zone at all. He was busy straining at the leash and watching all the excitement from a neighboring dog racing course.
But Mary Tuttle, his owner, was not disappointed.
"You hit many things right on the head," the Cottonwood Heights resident said. "I'm very open to that."
Davis often sees pictures in her mind when translating for animals. And it's not just domestic creatures who she can tap into.
A recent visit to Kanab's Best Friends animal sanctuary allowed her to talk to pigs, wild turkeys and chickens. That night, after she ordered a BLT sandwich at a restaurant, Davis cried. Now she's a vegetarian.
Most humans have this ability, she believes, but it's something we lose in early childhood. Even some professionals see some merit in her skills. Davis regularly works with a Salt Lake City veterinarian to help owners communicate with their cats.
People call her when an animal is lost, near death or just behaving badly. One dying dog explained that he wanted to be buried under the yellow rose bush.
"If I can do it, anyone can do it," Davis said.
It didn't take a psychic to notice that the dogs running on the "Course a'Lure" track nearby were deliriously happy Sunday afternoon. They chased a foxtail around a track, competing for medals decorated with a paw print.
The race, also a Humane Society fundraiser, had brought hundreds of visitors down to the Murray facility over the weekend. El Zoro, a Belgian sheep dog, was a return visitor who sped around the track.
Created by Bountiful-residents Cyndi and Bob Conwell, the course has been entertaining dogs for four years.
"Now we've developed a following," Cyndi Conwell said.
The Humane Society regularly hosts "Course a'Lure" dog racing and Paula Davis, pet psychic. For upcoming events, check the Web site: http://www.utahhumane.org