Animal psychic Kathy “Keek” Mensing plays with her newest dog, Sneakers. Mensing’s new book, The Way I Hear Them: Stories of An Animal Communicator documents her pet dialogs. Her first public reading is Jan. 15 at Fact & Fiction
Kathy “Keek” Mensing knows what you’re thinking. She knows when you read she’s a “psychic,” and that she communicates primarily with animals, you’ll think she’s nuts. It doesn’t take ESP to predict such a reaction. She’s used to it.
As a trained animal communicator, Mensing, 55, speaks with dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, raccoons, deer, squirrels, mice, birds, goats, llamas, bears and, once, an elephant. She communicates differently than, say, famous dog whisperer Cesar Millan, or Tom Booker, the main character in The Horse Whisperer, both of whom psychoanalyze and communicate with animals through non-verbal gestures and close study of nuanced behavior. Instead, Mensing claims to talk with animals through actual dialog, telepathically. She can be in the same room as the animal, but more often she prefers not to be with them, not to know the animal at all—it’s better to have clear communication, unclouded by any preconceived notions.
“What whisperers do is they study pack and herd mentality and then they do body language and actions that simulate that,” Mensing says. “What I do basically is almost like family systems therapy. I explain to the animal about whatever the problem is, why we’re talking, and I explain the human side of it. Then I get their side of the story and see if we can’t come to some agreement and mediation.”
Mensing says that her work has tangible results, actual changes in animal behavior that prove her mind-to-mind connection works. Since 2001, the Missoula resident has worked with animals—mostly dogs and cats—that appear anxious or show odd behaviors. She told a depressed cat named Chili in Zurich, Switzerland that the splint on her leg wasn’t meant to punish her but to help her. After the session with Mensing, the owners told her they noticed Chili eating and playing again. The owner of Ted, an old dog in Colorado, was distraught because she had to euthanize him the following day, but he refused to take his pain pill for the night, biting her five times. Mensing explained to Ted, telepathically, that the pill was not a life-saving measure, as Ted had suspected. The pill was simply a way to ease his suffering so he could die peacefully. Immediately after the session, Ted’s owner told Mensing that she covered the pill in baby food to hide it, but Ted licked the food off, looked at the pill, looked at his owner and ate it.
“I’ve done a lot of study and I can’t explain it. I don’t know,” Mensing says. “I’ve been taught that it’s mind-to-mind connection and that I’m probably reading their auric field. But how all that can transpire, I think that it’s all part of the mystery of being in this world.”
Mensing draws the line between what she sees as “verifiable” in her work and what parts are something “we can only wonder if it is true.” For instance, she talks to animals that appear to her to have past lives. But these past lives are, Mensing admits, not verifiable. One dog goes into a frenzy every time he’s put in a crate. Mensing says she received a vision of him in a past life as a slave being shipped from Africa to the Americas in a cage. In another instance, a golden retriever persistently digs up his backyard and told Mensing he used to be an Irish gravedigger.
“We probably will never understand. But obviously people have been doing this for years and years and eons ever since humans have evolved,” she says. “Every major religion has a mystical sect to it that works with this kind of thing on this kind of level.”
Four years ago, Mensing wrote a book called The Way I Hear Them: Stories of An Animal Communicator, which she published as a spiral bound photocopy and for which she did barely any publicity. Last month, however, Mensing committed to the book by self-publishing it as a glossy softcover and scheduling her first book signing, Thursday, Jan. 15, at Fact & Fiction. She’s decided it’s as good a time as any to “come out,” as she puts it, to the media and public about her psychic abilities. It hasn’t been an easy decision.
“I don’t have a very thick skin about being different,” she says, “And working my whole life just to sort of blend in and to all of a sudden be in such a controversial field it’s like, ‘How did this happen?’
“But it’s time,” she continues. “I really do know in my heart of hearts that it is good work. And, I mean, that’s all we can ask is to have good work that’s helpful.”
Annie and Hopi
On a cold December evening in Kanab, Utah, two dogs, Annie and Hopi, escaped from their yard and set off into the desert.
“They decided to go on a Thelma and Louise trip,” says owner Caralee Woods in a phone interview. “And they dug under the fence and off they went. Well, we’re out here in the Southwest Utah desert so it’s not like we’re in a neighborhood. We’re so far out here that cell phones don’t work. I mean, nothing. And they just took off.”
Woods owns a specialty pet store in Kanab and Mensing, who came through the store one day, gave her a business card. When the dogs escaped, Woods called up Mensing and sent her a rudimentary map of the area, a photo of the dogs and their names.
“She was able to tell us, at least from her reading, what direction the dogs went in,” says Woods. “At the same time she talked to the dogs and told them to go home. She explained that it may be fun for them but it was not fun for their people. And they said, ‘Wow, man. We never thought of that,’ and so forth and so on.”
Neighbors saw the dogs and caught Hopi, but Annie—who Woods describes as having no street smarts—was skittish and ran off again. The next morning, says Woods, Mensing contacted Annie.
“She told Annie, ‘Look, don’t move. Stop. Let your people find you. And if anyone else comes up to you, let them help you,’” recalls Woods.
That morning Woods got a call from a couple in Page, Ariz., about an hour away. They’d found Annie near the highway outside Kanab but couldn’t call until they got cell phone coverage in Page. They said Annie was just sitting there and let them approach her and read her tag. Woods’ voice wavers as she tells the story.
“It still gets me, you know? She let them catch her to read her tag,” she says. “An hour had passed and we went out, we found her across the highway all curled up in the sun, not moving and just staying right where she was. Keek was very, very accurate in terms of location.”
Woods says certain details Mensing came up with were eerie. For instance, Mensing knew she and her husband, Jim, used to be a foster home for dogs without them offering up the information. Nonetheless, Woods understands if people doubt Mensing’s psychic abilities.
“I guess it would be safe to say that my husband has a healthy skepticism about it,” she says, “But I mean, even he has to admit—,” she stops and says laughing, “He’s looking at me right now.” She yells to Jim, “Don’t you have to admit that what [Keek] does is kind of interesting?”
There’s a pause before Jim yells back, “It’s total bullshit. But if the dogs run away again, we’re calling her.”
Mensing lives near Miller Creek in a beautiful log home with large windows beaming light across her floors. Her new dog, Sneakers, a schnauzer stray, is a bit nervous still and barks at strangers. But Mensing’s talking her through the issue.
A former journalist and meticulous note taker, Mensing approaches her work with a keen attention to detail. She says that she works best in the morning, when her mind is clear and not filled yet with events of the day.
“First of all you’ve got to get your mind to slow down and quiet down so that you can hear,” she says. “It’s a matter of using all of our ESP. Because I’m a journalist I hear mostly words, but an artist will see mostly pictures and then will have to interpret and describe those pictures. Other people…would get it more by feeling. So it’s clairaudience, clairvoyance and clairsentience.”
At her home office in front of the computer she clears her mind and then tries to make contact with the animal. As they talk, Mensing types out the conversation.
“And it’s pretty much an hour of ‘Keek says, dog says, Keek says, dog says.’ And then I e-mail the dialog to the people and then call them and debrief with them,” she says.
Pam and Stan Riggins met Mensing at a campground in Idaho. She helped their dog with anxiety when his previous owner had to leave for military duty and the Riggins took him in. When their other two dogs, Callie and Sawyer, stopped eating, the Riggins called on Mensing to find out why.
“It came out that our daughter’s cat, Merlin, who is kind of an odd character, had somehow communicated to the dogs, however that happens, that they were not permanent,” Stan says. “At first we thought, knowing Merlin, that it was a mischievous thing. But then I thought, maybe not, because Merlin had been around longer than anybody, had seen our previous dogs die and us get [foster] dogs [for whom] we’d later find homes.”
Mensing says she explained to the dogs that their place with the Riggins was permanent. And she told Merlin to quit teasing.
“Keek said that Merlin actually seemed surprised, because he genuinely thought that was the case, that the dogs were temporary,” says Stan. “After that, the dogs started eating. They started being calm again.”
The Riggins say they were skeptical at first and they did think that some results—like their “feeling” that the dogs seemed more comfortable—could be imagined. The kicker came when Mensing told them that their deceased dog, Lacey, was also talking to the dogs.
“When she said that, I’m sort of going, ‘Ohhh-kay,’” says Stan. “I’m open but I’m just not sure yet I can totally buy into that. But she’s not trying to proselytize by any means.”
That said, the Riggins don’t dispute the real change in their dog’s behavior.
“We felt convinced that there was contact and that somehow there was communication,” he says.
Briana Wagner also had a positive experience with Mensing. She used to live in East Missoula and during that time her roommate’s dog constantly barked. But Wagner says that when Mensing talked with the dog, Buck, the change was immediate.
“The next day after she communicated with him, he did not bark. It was bizarre,” she says. “I was hesitant approaching people about it because it’s something people don’t necessarily believe in. But it wasn’t just a coincidence.”
Wagner is now a law and business student in Baltimore and has called on Mensing several times, including once for her parents’ dog, despite the more conventional ways of her veterinarian father’s viewpoint.
“Its always been quite upsetting for him when it comes time to, in the animal’s best interest, put it to sleep,” says Wagner. “We have a creek that runs near my parents’ house and…we never mentioned anything about it. In the written dialog with Keek she said that the dog wanted to go to the creek one last time. My dad just broke down into tears because he had a special fondness for this animal. So he’s even been persuaded that [psychic readings] can be beneficial for animals in different situations. That impressed me because he’s a pretty old-school guy.”
Mensing gets it. The idea of long distance telepathy is a tough concept for most people to grasp.
“Right. I know, it’s a whole other thing, isn’t it?” she says. “But mental telepathy and the art of using your intuition isn’t bound by distance. You know it’s like if you have a sister and all of the sudden you think, ‘Huh, something’s wrong with her in Timbuktu.’ And you call and she was just about in an accident or something. It’s just the feeling, the connection. It’s not the distance.”
Once upon a stray
Mensing’s ESP experience began with a damaged dog named Wheatie. Mensing and her partner, John, took in the neurotic stray and tried to keep her calm. During summer 1998, Wheatie started playing with a fawn, chasing it around and letting it chase her. The next summer she tried making friends with another fawn, but this time the mother doe lashed out, nearly kicking Wheatie to death. When Mensing ran out to save her dog, the doe charged her several times before finally running off. Wheatie recovered, but thereafter she viciously chased deer in the yard, attacked them and refused to heed calls to return to the house. Mensing had heard about an animal communicator in Helena, Jane Heath, and she had Heath talk with Wheatie.
“Wheatie told Jane she was trying to protect me,” says Mensing. “That’s why she was chasing the deer and Jane brilliantly told her, ‘You know, that’s great you want to protect her, but stay right next to her. That’s the best way.’ And until the day Wheatie died she rarely ran deer anymore but if she just couldn’t help herself and we couldn’t call her off we’d yell, ‘No Wheatie! Remember what Jane said? You’re supposed to stay next to us.’ And she would literally stop and turn around and come back.”
The change in Wheatie intrigued Mensing. She had a background in psychology and a master’s in contemplative psychotherapy, a Buddhist-based therapy approach, from Naropa University in Boulder, Col. She had also served as director of Hospice of Missoula, and had an eight-year private practice working with adults who were sexually abused as kids. Before that, Mensing earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Montana in 1976 and worked for the Idaho Free Press, as well as the Missoulian. The combined experience made it easy for Mensing to start researching ESP.
In 2001, she took her first animal communication workshop in Helena with teacher Jeri Ryan. She practiced working on her friends’ animals and read extensively about the communication process. One day, after having a vision that she might be able to communicate with the dead, she burst into tears and made an appointment with a psychologist.
“I was a skeptic about all of this,” she says. “I never dreamed when I went to the class that it was going to be opening up psychic ability. I noticed at the workshop some of the women were having trouble connecting. Well, at that point I’d been meditating for 20 years—now it’s been 30 years—so staying in that space is [natural for me].”
After confirming with the psychologist she wasn’t schizophrenic, that she seemed to be the same person as always, Mensing continued on with the work, though with some uncertainty as to how far she wanted to go with it.
In 2004, Mensing decided to take classes in Essex, England at Arthur Findlay College, which touts itself as the “world’s foremost college for the advancement of spiritualism and psychic sciences.” The day before she flew to England for the class, her partner, John, left her. While taking her classes at Arthur Findlay, she learned that Wheatie died after chasing some squirrels and falling into a hole, breaking her neck. And at the end of her time at Findlay, her teachers told her that she was, indeed, a psychic and a medium who could communicate to the dead and the living. Mensing returned to an empty home and, she says, a whole new life.
Doubt and error
Despite the testimonials and success stories, Mensing still has her fair share of doubters.
“My good friends have been supportive but they don’t necessarily believe in what I’m doing,” she says. “They think it’s great that I’m having a good time and doing something I love, but I think they’d be more comfortable if I was still a therapist.”
Mensing’s encountered the quizzical looks. Some acquaintances avoid talking about her work, as if it doesn’t exist. Others have quit talking to her altogether. Others lecture her.
“I’ve had people literally tell me I’m going to hell because I’m talking to the devil,” she says. “That’s their belief. But they don’t ask me what I do, they just make a judgment. I don’t need that because the people who really use these services and really benefit from it, I don’t have to convince them. I can’t believe it’s anything but divinely inspired. If somebody wants to bash me for doing this, then, well, they don’t need my services.”
And in such a case, where the pressure of disbelief already exists, it doesn’t help when the psychic readings falter.
During a session with a client who had lost a cat, Mensing visualized a map of a Texas subdivision.
“The whole map was perfect,” she says, “And I didn’t even look it up on Google. I knew the client’s house was over in one area and that there was a vacant lot about a quarter of a mile to her house. And I said to her, ‘Gee, I’m sorry, your cat is dead under a bush.’ And the cat came home the next day.”
Mensing fully admits that the readings don’t always work and says lost animals are the most difficult.
“Well, I think that some animals walk away because they’re looking for a different experience,” she says. “I’m working with a cat in Vermont right now who says he just wants to be wild. He’s tired of sitting in front of the fireplace. He wants an exciting life. So some of them don’t want to be found. Some of them are so frightened that they can’t give me accurate information. And sometimes,” she laughs, “I presume that my antenna’s just bent. It makes one a little gun shy about looking like a fool.”
In 2002, local mental health worker David R. Fields lost his dog, Takano, near Deer Creek in the mountains. Takano had been shot by a hunter and ran off, leaving Fields to spend hours—which turned into days and then weeks—hiking around to find him. He called Mensing and another communicator to help. According to Fields, Mensing had the sense that Takano was on the north face of the mountain, but they didn’t find him there. In fact, none of Mensing’s readings panned out for locating Takano. The only verifiable reading that Mensing gave was that Takano was still alive, which was substantiated when he turned up six weeks later. But in a story that Fields wrote about the event called “Takano’s Miracle” he refers to Mensing as having a positive impact on the situation, that her mere presence and sunny outlook was “able to bring some semblance of sanity and serenity into my life during this insane nightmare.”
Peace of mind
At the end of her book, Mensing mentions Project Stargate, the umbrella name for psychic programs started by the U.S. military in the 1970s. According to declassified Central Intelligence Agency documents, the “remote viewing” experiment was meant to create a trainable, repeatable, operational and, hopefully, accurate method of psychic spying—something Russia was reportedly already spending resources on. The government shut down the effort in 1995 after results were deemed insufficient, but some experts believe the program’s existence proves the worth of psychic analysis. Mensing references Project Stargate partly because it provides a wider scope for psychic potential, but also because it affirms her work.
“There’s part of me that, believe it or not, is still a skeptic,” she says. “But if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t do it. It’s like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, you know? There are enough people out there faking it that I think those of us who can really do it need to be impeccable in our practice.”
Mensing has taken those values into teaching. She started holding animal communication workshops in 2005, first in Switzerland and then several more courses in the United States. She tries to teach her students the importance of verifiable results. They practice pinpointing the color of a dog’s water dish or a cat’s favorite toy, something they can easily substantiate with the owner afterward.
“When people start doing this they always ask, as I did, ‘How do I know this isn’t just my imagination?’ Because it feels like you’re sitting there making up stories,” Mensing says. “But it is your imagination. That’s all you have to work with—it’s your perception organ for this kind of work. The trick is, to learn to hone your skills so that you know that what you’re getting is really from the animals and not just a flight of fancy.”
In a workshop in Switzerland Mensing had a student who refused to do what she asked and, instead, decided to talk with dinosaurs. The student focused on asking them why they went extinct.
“And, you know, it’s like, ‘cute,’” says Mensing, “but I’m not impressed. To me it’s a cop out. He was afraid to try because he thought he’d fail, so he just did dinosaurs so we couldn’t say he’s right or wrong.”
In the last year, Mensing has been asked to teach at 11 different workshops from coast to coast, mostly in living rooms or rented space. One workshop, however, will take place at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vt., for a summer session in the behavioral sciences department.
Despite becoming a sought-out teacher in her field, Mensing still forgets her abilities. There are days she feels just like anyone else. Last summer she had pigeons roosting on her shed, making a mess.
“So I filled one of those owls with gravel and got the ladder up and put it on the shed,” she says. “And here I’m nailing wooden snakes to the side of the shed thinking maybe that would help, that they’d think a snake was going to get them and scare away. And then, as I’m carrying the ladder back to the garage, I’m thinking, ‘You’re an animal communicator. Why don’t you just talk to them?’ So literally I shut the ability down sometimes. I don’t walk around in a world of talking to every dog in the alley that I meet.”
Now that she’s “come out,” however, and is more open to discussing what she does, Mensing sees no cutting back in her work. In fact, she’s already started on the next book. It’s called: The Man Left, the Dog Died and I Woke Up Psychic.
“I keep doing the animal work because concrete things happen just like that,” Mensing says, giving her fingers a snap. “People usually go to psychics when they want to know when Mr. Right is going to show up. They want to know when the house is going to sell. I’m not interested in doing that, it’s not verifiable.
“I don’t want to be an overweight middle-aged woman in a purple caftan on the corner with a crystal ball,” she continues. “I want this to be real. I want it to be based in fact and science and truth. You need to be able to walk with your feet firmly in this world in order to be effective.”
Kathy “Keek” Mensing hosts the presentation “Creating the Peaceable Kingdom: Making Peace with Our Animal Friends” at the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center Friday, Jan. 9, at 7 PM. Mensing reads from her book, The Way I Hear Them: Stories of An Animal Communicator, at Fact & Fiction Thursday, Jan. 15, at 7 PM.