An exploration of animal spirituality and the ability of animals to communicate with humans even in the afterlife
• Chronicles the author’s profound relationship with her dog, Brio, his ability to read her mind and emotions, and the messages she received from him after his death
• Shares the author’s research with animal communicators, psychics, and scientists specializing in animal intelligence such as Rupert Sheldrake
• Explores animals’ thoughts and feelings, interspecies communication and telepathy, animal souls and the afterlife, and animal reincarnation
• Paper with French flaps
Looking for companionship after a near-fatal car crash, Elena Mannes, an award-winning television journalist and producer, decided to get her first dog. But what she found with her dog Brio shook the foundations of her physical and spiritual worlds, sending her on a quest to discover the nature of his spiritual origins and to contemplate and seek out the possibility of interspecies communication--even after death.
Soon after bringing her puppy home, Mannes realized that the master-companion relationship would not be possible with Brio, who quickly showed that he had a mind--and a spirit--of his own. A healer Mannes visited immediately focused on Brio, exclaiming that he was an old soul. Mannes’s growing curiosity about the intelligence, emotions, and consciousness of Brio and other dogs led her to contact an animal psychic in California who described, with amazing accuracy, Brio’s favorite walks and the author’s apartment from the dog’s point of view. Motivated by her experience, Mannes produced a filmed segment with Diane Sawyer featuring the same psychic, who described Sawyer’s country house and her dog’s favorite spots in the yard. Mannes’s skeptical journalist background compelled her to investigate further. She delved into the world of animal communicators, psychics, and scientists studying animal intelligence, including Rupert Sheldrake, to find answers to her multiplying questions: Do animals have thoughts and feelings? Consciousness? Souls? Is interspecies communication possible? Can animals reincarnate?
Spanning the entire life and afterlife of Brio, including his last days and his messages to the author after he passed on, this book also explores Mannes’ investigations into the spiritual life of animals, offering a new understanding of the unbreakable bond between humans and animals. Mannes invites readers to move beyond the owner-pet relationship and shows us how to see animals as thinking, feeling, spiritual beings whose connections with us extend far beyond life and death.
This is much more than the story of a special bond with a dog. Many have experienced the depth of feeling that can develop between us and our four-legged best friends. What makes this story unique is that my search for a lasting and meaningful connection led me down a path that crossed over the boundaries of reason and concrete reality into the realm of the invisible. My dog Brio inspired me--a born skeptic--to investigate the paranormal. In doing so, I discovered that there is much more to heaven and earth than I had ever dreamed of as a fact-driven investigative journalist. Once we become open to new possibilities, we become open to a new world.
I grew up on pragmatism and logic based on my parents’ teachings. I built my career in television journalism, trained as a reporter, and lived my life bound by reason and fact. I saw myself as a questioning rationalist and still do, in many respects--at least as I function in the everyday world. But I stepped beyond my “comfortable” world in which everything had its place and made sense and ventured into foreign territory. This book is about taking that step.
No doubt many people who develop particularly close relationships with dogs describe the connection as remarkable. But surely far fewer embark on the kind of quest I undertook; they generally don’t question the nature of their pet’s spiritual origins. I came to contemplate the possibility of a wordless language between species. Moreover, I considered that such a conversation could take place across time and space, and even across the boundary of physical death.
I entered a world of animal communicators, psychics, and mediums. In the beginning, I would tell myself that it was a journalist’s drive to investigate that led me down this road. In truth, I was fascinated. As a journalist, once I began to see evidence of a reality I had never contemplated before, there was no turning back. I had to get to the bottom of it all. Then, after the communicators and intuitives succeeded in convincing me, I began to turn my journey inward and develop my own spiritual aptitude.
Of course, I didn’t come to this new way of thinking immediately. My beginning steps were full of doubt and suspicion. But when the psychics and communicators began to report on their conversations with animals with startling accuracy, I had to acknowledge that whatever they were doing, it was working.
As much as I questioned how the communicators could possibly know or hear or somehow see what my dog was “saying,” I couldn’t deny that they had access to information that I had not verbally given them, that they could not have known by ordinary means. I came to accept that something extraordinary was happening though I could not explain how or why.
This is the story of a continuing quest, of efforts to test the communicators and psychics, to gather the experience and opinion of other dog people, including professionals. Respected trainers and handlers interviewed for the book include Mary Benjamin; Donald McCaig, border collie trainer and author; and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, also a highly regarded trainer and author. Their insight offered invaluable perspective. Some professional handlers believe the idea of psychic communication with dogs is an insult to traditional training methods. Others are open to the possibility of an extrasensory language and even committed believers. Furthermore, some scientists I interviewed are convinced of a canine afterlife.
The voices of the animal communicators and psychics with whom I spoke were very important. Their tone and the beauty of their words were often as convincing as the content of what they said. It would be impossible to tell this story and convey the emotional impact of what I heard without bringing the voice of these translators as close to the reader as possible. So I have quoted them often. As the tale of an intimate relationship with a dog, this is not an uncommon story--not even as an account of personal change, even transformation, through that relationship. That is something many readers experience. My adventure is unique because it is an exploration into telepathy, afterlife communication, and metaphysics that walks all of us on the journey out of skepticism, to curiosity, to the need to believe, the need to find proof, to a crisis of faith and, finally, into a new understanding of the unbreakable bond between humans and animals.
In the course of my journey with Brio, I have moved from being someone who feared close relationships, struggled with them, to someone who bonded deeply with another creature in life and death. I have become a more loving, engaged, open person because of the rich and uncomplicated bond I shared with Brio. Our journey together transformed me entirely, and seamlessly, through the power of unconditional love, and a deeply instructive spiritual connection.
I understand that the bond with Brio is unbroken even in death, not figuratively or metaphorically, but with an unshakable conviction that was once incomprehensible to me, and which brings me an enormous sense of peace and gratitude about my own life, its meaning and its transitions. There is gratitude also for the fact that my need to understand “just a dog” led me to explore aspects of existence that I’d never considered. Do dogs--do all beings--have abilities to perceive that go beyond the five senses? Do these “extra” senses offer ways to communicate within and between species in ways that the precepts of Western, materialistic science do not acknowledge?
One might say that mine was a journey on two parallel paths: rooted in the immediate joys of life with a dog, right here in the now, the walking, the running, the tail wags, the smiles, yet simultaneously leading me down a road toward tantalizing questions about who animals are and what they tell us about who we human animals are as well. It’s a journey to revel in.
Elena Mannes is an award-winning independent documentary director/writer/producer whose honors include six Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, two Directors Guild of America Awards, and nine Cine Golden Eagles. She has written, directed, and produced series and documentaries for CBS, PBS, ABC, and the Discovery Channel, including The Amazing Animal Mind and the PBS primetime special The Music Instinct, which led to the writing of her book, The Power of Music. She lives in New York City.
“Enlightening! An important read for people who want to connect with their dog’s soul after death.”
– Jennifer Skiff, bestselling author of The Divinity of Dogs
“Soul Dog is a very thought-provoking book. Steeped in science and heart, Ms. Mannes passionately shares her own experiences with Brio. This book opens the door for wide-ranging musings about what dogs can teach us if we open our minds and hearts.”
– Marc Bekoff, author of Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do
“Do you have a dog and wonder about your relationship? Then this is a must-read. A touching, insightful, and thought-provoking book that compels you to look at your animals in a new way. It is a wonderful example of just how deep and mutually enriching the dog-human relationship can be.”
– Diane Budd, animal communicator and healer and author of Energy Medicine for Animals
“Elena Mannes writes eloquently of her unfolding journey of awareness with soul dog Brio. With gentle nudges and congenial canine humor, Brio guides Mannes through the mysteries of animal communication and ultimately helps her awaken to the magic that occurs when we learn to trust and listen to the truth of our deeper self.”
– Dawn Baumann Brunke, author of Animal Voices, Animal Guides
“Elena and Brio’s soul story showcases the precious trans-species adoration and communication in life and the afterlife between a woman and her dog. Discovering Brio’s creative and original mind, Mannes’s own testimony, both reflective and humorous, weaves science and personal experience into a kind of Tao of dog. She shows that sentient animal kin are teaching humans how to sit, walk, stay, and lie down in reciprocal respect, love, and joy. This book sparkles with delight.”
– Zohara M. Hieronimus, D.H.L., author of White Spirit Animals: Prophets of Change
“Hidden in the fabric of a curly coat, Elena Mannes discovers a real, in-the-flesh angel whom she comes to know as her soul dog, Brio. She teaches us that a soul dog connects us with our own all-knowing soul, the indestructible force of God that lives within us and within the animals that we may take for granted. This brave author beautifully balances incredibly precise messages from animal communicators and psychics with scientific studies all directed at the same discovery--we are more connected than we might think. May every reader be inspired to listen to the farreaching wisdom of a trusted pet and be blessed to have your heart blown open by the healing power of their unconditional, and forever, love.”
– Belinda J. Womack, author of Lessons from the Twelve Archangels
“This is a must-read, a spiritual journey into the life of the soul dog. This wonderful book teaches about the unconditional love and unbreakable bonds that exist between humans and animals.”
– Bash Dibra, coauthor of Dog Training by Bash and DogSpeak
“My former colleague Elena Mannes has always been on a quest to discover more about the animals she loves. Soul Dog takes her beyond science into mystical paths--the yearning for consolation and possibility. She writes that animals teach us to listen. Elena is their friend, ready to hear.”
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