There is, Barb Borkowski says, an old photo of her resting her hand atop the head of her great-grandfather’s collie. “I was two-years-old,” the animal communicator recalls. “I sensed that his head hurt.” Right from the beginning, she was an empath where animals were concerned: “I grew up with several beagles that my dad used for hunting. Spending time with them was my preferred activity. If one of them did not feel well, I felt the discomfort in my body.”
Borkowski, a licensed massage and energy therapist, and Reiki practitioner, owns The Healing Journey in Steubenville, Ohio. “All living things are composed of energy,” she writes on her website. “The life force flows through the body. Stress, illness and emotional conflicts may cause a disturbance in the flow. Energy Therapy assists the body in returning to a balanced state.” Animals aren’t her only clients, however. She also works with people – autistic children, for instance, and adults who are in comas or unable to speak as a result of stroke damage. Reading people, like reading animals, has always come easily to her. When she was a nurse, she “was able to guess what physical problems newly admitted patients had just by looking at them. A few co-workers knew about my ability. Test results always confirmed my initial assessment of the health problems.”
It was a long time before she fully understood this ability of hers, though. A car accident changed all that. Trying to ease the pain, Borkowski began going for massage therapy: and she became interested enough to enroll in massage therapy classes herself. There she learned not only “about the energy fields of all living things” but that “there was finally a name” for what she did.
Borkowski’s work with people “incorporate[s] subtle healing energy with massage techniques. The combination allows the positive flow to enter the body and supports the release of negativity from stress. The result is total relaxation.” So, yes, she does have human clients who come to her for energy therapy on a regular basis. But she’s mostly in demand as an animal communicator. “People tend to seek help for their pets before they will for themselves,” she explains. “The main service I provide for animals is communication. When I make on-site calls, I use Reiki while relaying the information to the owners about their pet. When working remotely, I look at a picture of the animal.” Simply by studying the photo, she can tell what’s bothering the cat, dog, or horse: the info “comes into my mind, and I write it down. The majority of issues are related to the home environment. Animals are very sensitive to human emotions.” So distance healing or communication “involves the pet owners, not just the pets.”
Sometimes she finds that the problem is inadequate nutrition; other times, there’s an underlying health issue. Once, when Borkowski touched a horse, she “immediately felt like I had a stomach ulcer.” A gastroscopy performed a few days later showed that the horse had definite ulceration: she was put on medication and improved rapidly. Another horse wasn’t so lucky. During a phone session, Borkowski sensed that he had stomach cancer, but the owner didn’t look into getting tests done. The horse died a few months later. The autopsy showed that Borkowski’s reading had been all too true.
Most of the people who go to the trouble of consulting an animal communicator do follow through on what she tells them, however. And the animals themselves “desire to be healthy. They are open to healing. When helping them in person, I receive many ‘kisses’ from dogs once their thoughts are told.”
Empaths generally pay a price for their gift, and Borkowski is no exception. Once, she volunteered at a local shelter, and she “could feel all of the anxiety, loneliness, fear, and desire to be out of the cages.” The animals’ excitement at seeing “people arrive with the hope that someone would take them out of the shelter and the sad eyes watching them leave hurt so much. I cried every time I went there.”
“When you are hopelessly lost,” British novelist Elizabeth Goudge wrote, “follow your animals.” To Borkowski, who shares Goudge’s passion for dogs, those words suggest “that people should strive to be more like their pets. The qualities of being non-judgmental, loyal, and givers of unconditional love are admirable traits of our four-legged friends.”
You see, for her, dogs have been more than tried-and-true friends: they have also been teachers who have helped her grow as both a healer and a person. “As an adult, I picked sick pups,” Borkowski reflects. “I did not know at the time they were ill, but I was able to assist with their healing.” So she learned from them in that sense. Her most important teacher, however, was a determined yellow Labrador retriever, Maggie. “I had the privilege of sharing almost 12 years with her. When Maggie wanted something, she stood still and stared until someone noticed. One day, she had a prolonged stare. I tried to figure out what she wanted. She stomped her front paws on the dining-room floor, and these words came to mind: ‘You are supposed to help God’s gentle creatures.’ That was the day I decided to include animal communication as part of my business. Thank you, Maggie….What a journey it has been.”