Major BearPhoto by: Earthfire

Sometimes, the veil between species is pierced and it is a very beautiful thing. Life’s strong, biologically driven sense of individual preservation, common to all species, gives way under extreme circumstances. As a last resort, we overcome our fear and ask for help when there is no other option left. One exquisitely touching example of this is in the accompanying video. Four wild young deer, exhausted by swimming across the icy waters of Stephens Passage off the coast of Alaska, see a boat, swim towards it and essentially ask for help from humans. Which is gladly given.

There are many such videos: The raven who sat on a fence asking to have someone to pull porcupine quills out of his face. The fox who asked for help getting a jar off his head. The dolphin who asked the scuba diver to remove a fishing line from his fin. I think many of us have had the experience of a beloved domestic animal asking for help, sensing that we have the capacity to do more than they can. For myself I have experienced it with many of our animals at Earthfire. When Major Bear was ill, out of his eyes there came such a powerful mute appeal for help that it still haunts me. It was so clear that he was asking for something. The tragedy was I did not know what – for us to help ease his pain? To help him pass? To help him live? But the request, from bear to human, was unmistakable.

One day as I was working around the animals, I felt a pull from one of the wolf enclosures and turned to see what it was. Standing there, four square facing me, was Cucumber the wolf. Normally she would barely give us the time of day because she was an independent creature, focused on a wolfly life. Especially on becoming alpha queen despite her tiny size. But when I looked over she was standing there looking at me with a similar intense look to what I received from Major Bear when that he was in need of help. We rushed her to the vet and it was touch and go. She essentially died on the operating table and then was revived. Like others, she hadn’t asked until she was near death.


Cucumber lived many more years and became sweeter and sweeter, and more and more social. She stepped forward to become an ambassador wolf, voluntarily greeting each retreat participant personally. In a book I am writing, I ask the question, “I wonder what the effect of a near death experience is on a wolf.” Because Cucumber had one, and after that she changed. But the main point here is that wild animals, when in extremis, will come to humans for help. Why? What do they sense? At Earthfire this has happened with coyotes, bears, wolves and cougars – all of the species we have, in fact. In a situation where they were familiar with humans, they all asked for help.
But so did those deer, who were wild. And the raven and fox and dolphin. For me this brings up over and over the sense that animals come to us and ask us for help and it moves us profoundly. What is going on here? There is a deeper connection than we than we generally attend to. I think this would be even more frequent if we weren’t scared, unfamiliar, unaware. At Earthfire, where there is no fear, many of the animals who have needed it have asked for help. I wonder – on a larger scale, as there is wide scale disruption of habitat, no place to eat, drink, companions decimated, if on a higher energetic level the animals in general aren’t asking us for leadership, looking to us, for help.


A few years ago, Cindar, a beautiful, vibrant young wolf, didn’t look well. An x ray showed congested lungs. Despite antibiotics, she died. An autopsy showed she had a lung torsion; a twisted lung. Why would a healthy young wolf die of such a rare illness? The vet said she probably wouldn’t see another lung torsion in her lifetime. We remembered that in traditional Chinese medicine each organ has its own function; vibrational energy and holds the energy of a specific emotion as well. The emotion associated with the lung is grief. It depletes the lungs and causes them to contact.

There were no recent losses or changes at Earthfire. And then an idea hit us – wolf killing had recently begun in Idaho. Not only were they shooting them, they were rejoicing in the killings. There is considerable documented evidence that wolves are telepathic across long distances. Was it possible that Cindar was feeling the pain of her nearby kin? Some animal communicators believe that illness can sometimes be an animal’s way of communicating. Did Cindar develop a fatal illness in response to the slaughtering of her kind; or perhaps to communicate the tragedy, asking us to help? I don’t know but I wonder…

There is such a pool of good will towards animals. You see it in many ways, including the increasingly acceptable concept of animal rights. There was a front page article in the New York Times Sunday magazine recently called “Should as Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?” There are all the animal videos going around that are so popular. Are we hearing them? Is there a way to pull all this good energy and growing awareness together in a way that works to save animals, and in my opinion, save us with them?

I dream of a beautiful partnership, where we lead in the way that only we humans can, with our intelligence and capacity to look to future consequences; and where animals lead and help as only they can, helping connect us to our hearts and to the larger circle of life.

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