Steamboat Springs Animal communicator Megan Sisk was one of those children who found every stray animal in the neighborhood.
"At 5 years old, I would sneak out at midnight and ride the neighbor's horses and let them run around in the field," Sisk said.
Her love for animals led her to study equine massage with the intention of rehabilitating animals after surgeries and illnesses.
"Massage can also increase performance for horses in showing," Sisk said. "I just love animals and truly want to keep them healthy. But all of this was spurred by horses."
Sisk rarely performs animal massages now because she has been working professionally as an animal communicator for the past six years. All of her business is obtained through word of mouth.
Sisk's schedule is filled with house calls to help pets and their owners with behavioral or health problems.
"If I sense a health issue, I will tell them to go to the vet to get some blood work done. I'm careful about not diagnosing," Sisk said. "I do not rehabilitate animals, and I never pretend to."
Sisk uses her knowledge of energy medicine, healing touch, crystal therapy and aromatherapy to work with animals. She recently has been taking human classes on biorhythms and body mechanics.
"For the most part, we have the same structure," Sisk said. "It's remarkable how much like humans animals are."
Sisk has worked with horses, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, snakes, deer, birds and a wild zebra.
"My biggest dream is to do this with rescued animals and with dolphins," she said. "In Cozumel, I swam with dolphins, and they really do communicate like anybody else."
Some animals are harder to work with than others.
"Animals truly figure out how to communicate with me. Some are much more forthcoming, and others are like pulling teeth," Sisk said. "I generally ask one specific thing that will get into the heart of the owners so the owners open up. The hardest to communicate with is the owners."
When working with clients, Sisk confirms what the owners already know.
"I put a voice to it. They already know the answers," she said. "Pet owners all know what their pets are thinking and want."
Sisk's favorite thing about her job is converting the non-believers.
"When I'm called by someone who doesn't believe in this, it's a last resort. : I like to see the spark in their eyes when I hit it and solved the problem."
Sisk said that convincing herself to believe in what she does was the hardest part.
"I'm the biggest cynic ever born. With everything I do, I roll my eyes at it the first time I hear it," she said. "Even with energy work, everything had to be proven to me. I don't know if that makes me a more believable person, but it makes a difference that I was a cynic because I know how wild this sounds."
Sisk attributes her career to her supportive husband, Michael.
"My life is so great because of him," she said. "And I am able to do what I do because of him."
Although the couple owns two dogs, a kitten, four horses and two mules, Sisk does not work on her own animals because she knows them too well. But she can help animals that she has never met before.
"I can get a long-distance call from California with a quick description, a name and age and I'm good to go," Sisk said. "But I prefer photographs where I can look into their eyes. Eyes are windows to the soul."
Sisk said not all of her work is fun and games. She no longer works with lost animals because it uses up all of her energy, and animals who are suffering from depression and terminal illnesses are the most difficult.
"I have also talked to people who have had to put down animals because they were too aggressive," she said. "There's a lot of tears and heartache."
Sisk has never been bitten or injured by an animal she's worked with. She is careful to not use eye contact with aggressive dogs.
"It's all about respecting the animals," she said. "You have to be completely ego-less to work with animals. Ego blocks you."
Sisk has no scientific explanation for what she is able to do, but she thinks that her career chose her.
"All of this fell into my lap - therapy and modality," she said. "I truly believe we are given gifts, and we are given them because we appreciate them. But you have to be open to it."