Psychic or psych-out?

Was a pet psychic’s advice based on true psychic ability or just common sense? Either way, the guinea pig seems happy now.

Photo By David Robert

It’s hard not to feel a little self-conscious when you’re taking your pet to see a psychic. Waiting inside the Odyssey Bookstore, I’m guessing that my guinea pig and I are about equally ill at ease—him because he’s crammed into a shoebox-sized travel cage and me because toting my rodent companion around like an accessory makes me feel a bit too much like a vapid socialite. Of course, I don’t know for certain how he feels about anything, but pet psychic Leslie Moran says she can help with that.I feel a little better when my friend Lisa joins me, although she’s only carrying an easily concealed framed photo of her dogs—Moran’s preferred method for larger pets. While waiting, we browse through the displays of crystals and aromatherapy candles; I worry that the spicy scent of burning incense might bother my guinea pig’s delicate nose.

Meanwhile, other pets and their owners gather in the bookstore. A friendly black dog wearing a bandanna trots up, sniffing curiously at my horrified guinea pig, and a cat meows somewhere in the background. Finally, it’s our turn. I pick up my pet carrier, head to the back room and prepare to gaze deep into my pet’s soul.

Never having been to a psychic, I’d been picturing a bejeweled gypsy in swirling skirts, but Moran isn’t anything like that. Her blond braids are decorated with blue beads to match her eyes, and she’s kicked off her sandals to work barefoot. When she speaks, her voice is gentle and soft, and it’s easy to see why animals would feel safe around her.

Our surroundings aren’t quite what I’d imagined, either. We’re sitting on folding chairs in what is obviously the employee break room, and the lack of a door gives minimal privacy—as the curious black dog proves by wandering back several times to investigate. Somehow, it’s hard to conjure a sense of mysticism when you’re staring at a mini-fridge and a battered microwave, but I do my best.

Leslie Moran, above, is a pet psychic. Tessa Young, her dog, Rocky and Kathi Fortman’s dog, Dante, line up to hear what Moran has to say.

I place the cage on the table in front of Moran. Inside, my guinea pig is munching contentedly on hay, keeping one eye on us. Moran closes her eyes and holds her hands just above the cage, concentrating. As she works, her hands make stroking motions in the air, then quick flicks, as though she’s brushing something away. My guinea pig, it seems, can transmit images and speak directly to her, and she translates for me.

The reason for my visit is my guinea pig’s recent, unpleasant tendency to bite my hands and arms. “I’m getting some anger and frustration, right here,” she says, pointing at a spot just below his shoulders. “What you can do is take two fingers and gently massage there, to release the tension.” Getting up, she demonstrates on my back. My guinea pig, evidently, has energy that he wants to express but doesn’t know how, which causes an “energy block.”

Surprisingly, my furry friend also has a long wish list of toys and accessories. Moran says he’s sending her an image of a light-and-dark colored ball. “He’s saying ‘two-toned like me,'” she laughs. (For the record, my guinea pig is actually three-toned: brown, orange and white.) My pet also requests a harness for going on walks, a radio to combat loneliness, and a complex set-up of ramps and platforms, so he can stay in shape. I had no idea guinea pigs were so materialistic.

Inside the carrier, my pig flops down to rest.

“He’s telling me he’d like to show you how smart he is,” Moran tells me. “He understands that he’s a friend and companion, but he wants to do something more. … He’s wondering what he’s supposed to do.” Yes, my guinea pig wants a job—something simple he can do to feel useful around the house. Since his job skills currently include hiding and fouling his cage, I’m temporarily stumped but promise to think it over.

Lena the cat relies on Moran for some advice.

Next, it’s Lisa’s turn, and I scoot my guinea pig over to make room for her. She hands over the photo of her two dogs. Lisa’s younger dog, Taylor, is having separation anxiety and has been misbehaving to get attention.

“She seems so needy, and I’m not sure what I can do with her,” Lisa explains.

Moran asks Lisa for details on the specifics of Taylor’s bad behavior. She studies the picture for a minute, placing her hands slightly above the glass and making sprinkling motions. But it seems not to work as well this time; Moran advises Lisa that, with emotional problems this serious, the best option is the full two-and-a-half-hour long distance healing session ($175), which includes a cassette tape of Moran’s conclusions and treatment recommendations. With anxiety issues, Moran explains, long distance works better, as the presence of a stranger can trigger stress and make the session less effective.

Lisa’s reading lasts only 10 minutes, including the time it takes for Moran to rifle through a box and present her with a few handouts about herbal supplements and disciplining pets.

“Overall, I was disappointed with my reading,” Lisa tells me later. “All I really got was advice to schedule a longer appointment. I didn’t expect to go home and sit down and have a chat with my animals after the reading, but I did hope for a little more insight into my pets.”

Afterward, I optimistically attempt to implement Moran’s suggestions. I massage my pet’s tiny shoulders, which he likes. When I go to work, I leave the radio set on a soothing light-rock station. I don’t have a two-tone ball, but I do have a tennis ball, so we try to play. I roll the ball to him; he nibbles it to see if it’s food. I roll it again; it nudges him in the side, making him leap up and dart around his cage in terror. Soon, we give up.

I’m not sure he really wants that job, either. On laundry day, I explain to my pet that he can “help” me by emitting his trademark ear-piercing squeaks when the buzzer sounds, but apparently it’s his day off because he doesn’t make a peep.

Skeptic that I am, I can’t say for sure whether Leslie Moran has psychic gifts. True, her suggestions make sense, but you don’t need otherworldly powers to tell your pets want attention, nutrition and love. Still, I can’t deny that my guinea pig hasn’t bitten me once since our session, and if that’s what a pet psychic can do for troubled pets, that’s one destiny I can live with.