There was a delightful little animal boutique on Lark Street (Albany’s “Greenwich Village”—I think every city has one) called Barks on Lark. Cara, its owner, had a loyal following, and she was enthusiastic about having me come spend a Sunday talking with her customers and their dogs. The Lark Street area is full of old apartment buildings, and people can be found walking their dogs at all hours of the day or night. We set up an eight-hour visit for me to see twenty-two people in a row, and despite some concern about getting tired, I was enthusiastic. So often public events are held in hotel ballrooms or other locations which won’t allow animals, and I don’t have as many opportunities to interact in person with dogs as I’d like to.

The First Visit

My first visit was scheduled with two women and their chihuahua. A young woman who seemed uncomfortable arrived with the dog, letting me know that her partner was in Europe and wouldn’t be attending. She sat holding the dog under her coat, as I asked a few customary questions, for example, the dog’s age and how long she’d been with them. I added a couple more questions to make conversation, hoping to relax the atmosphere, which was feeling increasingly awkward. “Where’d he come from?” I asked innocently. “Binghamton”, she replied. “Was he in a shelter there?” “I’m not telling you THAT!” she answered, indignantly. I shrugged and mumbled something about just making conversation, and we continued, the atmosphere turning even more awkward. We talked about their dog’s behavior, and her and her partner’s concerns, and her responses were so spare and reluctantly given that I was becoming exasperated, ready to end the session, tell her it wasn’t working for me, see that she got her money back, and send her on her way. Then we got to talking about the dog’s behavior in the kitchen of their apartment, and what was going on with her emotionally, and the woman exclaimed, “Oh, so you’re not a fake!” I was stunned but amused rather than offended. “You thought I was a fake?” I was smiling by now. “Well, yeah,” she replied, implying her disbelief was to be expected. “I just figure all psychics are.” I was becoming more amused, my ego not threatened at all (surprise!) and I asked the obvious next question. “You paid money to see if I was a fake?” “My mom signed me up”, she replied.

The “Real Deal”

With that boulder out of the way, we finished our session. She and her dog left, and I moved on. Despite the awkwardness, there was a surprisingly happy ending. When I returned home that evening, Cara had shared with me responses she’d received from some of the people I’d spent time with that day. There was a message from my skeptical first client, which she’d posted on Facebook. It included a photograph of my brochure, and commentary describing the woman’s general disbelief in the authenticity of psychics. She continued, to say that I was the “real deal,” that I had given her information I couldn’t possibly have known, and that her sweet chihuahua had given me a “Four Paws Up” rating! It was a pleasant and unexpected response, and another person converted to believing that her dog talks and people can hear her.