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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [October 12, 2006]




[]  Bob Harvey's cat talks to him -- and saved his life!  And that of Harvey's dog!

Even more amazing, all pets talk!  Your pet talks to you all the time!  But to understand your pet, you must know how to listen.

Harvey revealed some secrets to listening to your pet in an exclusive Weekly Universe interview, an ability he learned from "You Too" -- a Maine Coon cat who saved Harvey's life!

"I was walking near my house," said Harvey to the Universe, "when You Too jumped in my path and began pawing my legs.  I stopped at his insistent interference, and as I stooped to reach for him, a slither movement caught my eye.

"Not four feet ahead, a rattlesnake was coiled in my path.  It exhibited none of the telltale warnings -- no raised-head posturing, no threatening rattler sound.  Had You Too not stopped me, I would have surely stepped upon it!

"Another time, I'd fallen asleep and was startled by You Too's pawing at my arm.  Once I turned on the light and You Too felt he had my attention, he jumped from the bed and stopped at the sheepskin rug where my dog lay stretched and asleep.  Just above the dog's head, within inches of his sensitive left ear canal, were not one -- but two! -- huge, 3-inch scorpions!

"Before I could move closer, one of the nasty crawlers moved to the tip of my dog's ear!  You Too did not hesitate to rush forward and swat the enemy away.  This woke my pup, who lazily yawned, looked at us, and threw a paw over his head -- not ready to engage the new day."

Harvey had found You Too as a stray in 1992.  "I was a mid-forties bachelor, a recent transplant to Texas.  It was an early spring morning and I was making my breakfast-on-the-run when I heard a strange, mellow call from my patio deck.  There stood a long, bushy raccoon tail attached to a large cat.  Strange furry ears twitched as the feline kept calling to me.  I mean, this animal looked straight at me!

"I'd never had a pet.  Ignoring cats was what I normally did, at least until that day.  Somehow this persistent feline enticed me to open the door.  Then, not knowing what else to do, I fed the stranger a can of tuna.  While the cat devoured the meal, I found myself so captivated by the striking, multi-colored coat and leonine mane that I forgot my rush-rush agenda and just sat nearby and watched, mesmerized.

"After another serving of tuna, the cat faced me, and did the most extraordinary thing!  He -- I don't know why I decided it was a male -- contemplated me with those large, green-blue-gold, almost turquoise eyes, and then launched himself onto my lap.  He sat inches from my face, our eyes locked for an eternity of 20 blinks or so.  Then he stretched, turned in a circle several times, and pretty-as-you-please, curled up on my lap.  Just like that.  Nothing said, just his affirmation that he had made his decision.  I was the one!

"I never went to work that day.  Just sat with him off and on, or he followed me about like I would have expected of a faithful dog.  Finally, I realized I was talking to him constantly, so it seemed we should be formerly introduced.  I said something like, 'I'm all alone.  Are you too?' "

And that was how You Too got his name.

" 'You Too' just stuck," said Harvey, "and we were inseparable for the next nine years."

Harvey claims humans and animals communicate through a process called biophilia, a term coined by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson in his 1984 book, Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species.

Harvey also has Nine Tips on how YOU can talk to your pet!


1.  Listen and observe.  They will share so much of themselves if you pay attention. 

2.  Respond verbally.  Since their hearing is so acute compared to ours, they will pick up on your different tones and be more sensitized to your moods. 

3.  Include them in everything.  They will be eager companions and sharing experiences bond you even closer.

4.  Encourage physical contact.  When they cuddle up or stretch close make space for them.  You will be amazed how quickly they develop a lifelong routine you both cherish.

5.  Remember to be playful.  They naturally enjoy chasing and swatting things that roll and dangle.  Whether lying on their backs or extending off rear legs they love games.

6.  Let them set the parameters.  They respond positively to change or new circumstances if you let them adjust on their own as opposed to imposing your will. 

7.  Do not make rooms off-limits.  Unless it is for safety reasons, such as a dangerous workshop, try to allow access everywhere in your home where you go.  They won't understand the concept of "this room is my office."  Besides, especially there you might really benefit from their stress-reducing presence. 

8.  When you are sick, keep them close.  They will sense your discomfort and will be a comforting caregiver regardless of how bad you feel or think you look.  They're great medicine!

9.  Judge their health by their demeanor.  The best indicator of a problem seems to be a change in their energy level and attentiveness.


Bob Harvey's life with You Too inspired his first novel, Me and You Too – Catalyst.  In 2005, he co-founded the Tailwaggers Pet Sitting Service.

Also read the Weekly Universe's special report on Ceausescu's Communist dog, and Santa Monica's doggy grave.

Copyright 2006 by


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