Steve* hiked up a rise in Wyoming on a late June morning. Atop the neighboring hill, an antelope watched him. He mimicked the animal’s call and the female pronghorn sprinted toward him, paused, called back and loped toward him. She continued this pattern until she stopped about 10 feet away from him. Once again, Steve spoke “antelope” and she replied, prancing around him in a wide circle, responding to each sound he made.

Pronghorn antelope

Pronghorn antelope









Another friend attracts dying raptors. Once he held a red-tailed hawk that’d been hit by a car, soothing it as it crossed from our realm to the next. While you think an animal would be stressed being picked up by a human, he said the bird relaxed as he spoke to it.

What explains these unusual occurrences? Could it be that these two men, who’ve spent abundant time in the outdoors, understand silence and move slowly to not frighten animals? Or is it something more?

I asked Dahlahk Pahtahlngee, a member of the Washo people, for his insight. He explained that animals and humans have a similar path on Earth: one of need, survival and understanding. All living creatures move on to different levels of consciousness throughout this life and beyond, and we need each other’s assistance to achieve those.

Dahlahk said animals approach humans when they recognize a familiarity of memory—a shared energy between the person and animal. The creature knows in a physical and metaphysical sense that they’ve met to help each other.

The Washo believe each person has an animal totem.** Dahlahk said that by interacting with our totems, we remember our true selves and our guiding principles on earth. It’s everyone’s responsibility to listen to and connect with wildlife to discern our purpose and how we can help other living beings. He said it is our duty to honor that relationship with our totem.

How many of us walk through life unaware of our connection to wildlife? For many generations, some cultures have elevated humans so far above animals that they give little regard to the scrub jay, field mouse or lizard that crosses their paths. I believe we’re all connected by the same divine energy and by our time on Earth. If we don’t care for one another, none of us has much chance of successfully surviving.

Thank you to Dahlahk Pahtahlngee for sharing his wisdom and allowing me to post his beliefs.

*Not his real name.

**A totem is “an animal considered being ancestrally related to a person and is taken as that person’s or group’s symbol,” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary.