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The Virginian-Pilot & The Ledger-Star
Charisse Colon: Pet Psychic ; "I Can Speak To Animals, And They Tell Me Things."
ROBERTA T. VOWELL
April 29, 2003
IF THE PET PSYCHIC were a pup, she'd be growling. If she were a cat, maybe she would hiss. Or just stalk off with her whiskers in the air.
The pet psychic, however, is a human animal, a slightly built female named Charisse Colon. She is not prone to growling or hissing. Instead, Colon narrows her eyes, flips back a sheaf of shiny black hair and speaks very, very gently to the creature who is rubbing her the wrong way.
That hapless soul is Steve Helton-Edmonson, a Navy guy who coaxes harmony from a battalion of computers but can't negotiate a truce between his two dogs, Diamond and Max. They've all just moved into a new house in Virginia Beach.
"Diamond still feels, in your heart, you love Max more," Colon says. Diamond, a female mutt who looks like a beagle gone haywire, is poking her long snout into Colon's hand, searching for a treat.
"You really love Max," Colon says.
Helton-Edmonson stammers out a reply.
"I, I, of course I love Diamond."
Colon looks up at him for the merest moment, then turns back to Diamond, who is now rooting through the pet psychic's pocket.
"She says, `Not like you love Max.' "
Helton-Edmonson starts to speak, then snaps his mouth shut and throws up his hands.
Not a tooth mark on him.
Colon is not the TV pet psychic, the one on Animal Planet.
She is the new psychic in town. Colon moved to the Oceanfront two years ago, attracted by the same stuff that has drawn other slightly skewed folks for decades - the Association for Research and Enlightenment, the community of people whose casual conversation touches upon contact with aliens, past lives and all the possibilities beyond this earthly world.
Colon - it rhymes, more or less, with alone - has been meeting with Diamond every other week since January.
Diamond has issues.
"Abandonment issues," explains Colon. "When she was 3 months old, she went to sleep and when she woke up, the father was gone. On deployment, but she didn't know that. And then he didn't come home for so long. So now she is afraid to sleep."
Diamond has other issues, like the military-dependent-dog issue, which has seen her moving from Alabama to California to Virginia Beach.
Mostly, there's a "half-grown puppy issue," which means Diamond jumps on people, pokes her nose into embarrassing places and generally acts like she's slurped 100 bowls of coffee.
Colon begins her sessions by daubing lavender and rosewood oils behind Diamond's silky brown ears. This, Colon says, is intended to calm the pup. Then, she pets and plays with the dog, all the while picking up Diamond's thoughts.
"I can speak to animals, and they tell me things," Colon says, "from `Daddy's in a bad mood,' to `Do I have to have the same food today?'
"Actually, that is the most common thing dogs say: `Why do they give me the same food every day?' "
"Most of it comes in the form of a vision, a scene that I see in their minds. And that is how they read our minds. When you say, `Go pick up the toy,' they hear that, but they also see in your mind a scene that is there, you visualizing the dog picking up the toy."
Colon began working with the Helton-Edmonsons - Steve and his wife, Laura - while they were living in an Oceanfront hotel, waiting for the purchase of a house to go through.
So there they were, in one large room at the Days Inn, the Helton- Edmonsons and the hyper pup, Diamond. Max was staying with relatives in Alabama until the new house was ready.
"She's very excited about the house," Colon said, cradling Diamond's long head in her tiny hands.
The Helton-Edmonsons nodded.
"She does want to go to doggie day care."
"She went today," he said.
"She says she enjoyed it," Colon said. "She says she has two friends there."
The couple nodded again. He mentioned that Diamond wouldn't be at day care the next week, since he'd have to be at Oceana every morning at 5.
Colon paused, watched Diamond chomping through a rawhide bone.
"Doggy day care is really important to her."
"Well," he began.
"She's not saying she would tear something up," Colon said, "but she would bark, and she'd scratch the door."
"Well," Helton-Edmonson confirmed, "she would."
Another message from Diamond.
"She says, `Why can't I come with you?' "
Helton-Edmonson took a deep breath. "Tell her, all those jet noises, I don't think she'd like it."
Colon closed her eyes.
"I just see," she said finally, "that when she gets to the house she'll settle down. What's going through her mind a lot is Max and the house. She loves Max. She just said that."
But Max and Helton-Edmonson, Colon said, "are like one soul."
It doesn't help that he talks about Max - a massive, regal dog of chow, Rottweiler, shepherd ancestry - and then makes a flippant comment about Diamond, like "We've got to get her big."
Colon leaped in.
"She says: `I'm small-boned. I can't be big like Max.'. . . She's like, `Love me for who I am.' "
Colon was raised by a single father in Puerto Rico, and her soft voice retains a touch of accent, or as she pronounces it, "ox- sent." For the first six years of her life, she lived on a farm.
"I remember playing with the auras of plants and wild animals when I was very small. I remember one time I fell and my arm was twisted and I held it and it healed. I would focus vision with my third eye, and it would heal."
Colon looks perfectly ordinary, but she believes there is a third eye that helps her read minds, see colored auras and feel the energy of other creatures.
Anyway, her father moved her to Florida, where she went to Catholic schools and college in Miami. The psychic earned an associate's degree in business management and public relations.
Then she cut loose, leaping into the South Beach club scene.
"I've experienced a lot in a short period of time," she says.
"Now, I live in freedom. I live in peace. I live in beauty. My life is really a blessing."
Colon offers up reams of personal info: She shares a small apartment near the Oceanfront with her Siamese cat, Ming, and her Japanese fighting fish, Jasper.
"We all communicate and share our views and visions," she says.
She has a significant other back in Miami, who she expects to join her someday.
She supports herself by giving psychic readings - humans and animals - for $45 a sitting. She can "read" pets from a picture, what she calls "remote healing," which enabled her to diagnose a cat with intestinal parasites from a snapshot sent from Beben, N.Y.
She's focused on a project she calls the Seers and Seekers Sanctuary, a place - or maybe a Web site - where people can go to explore their souls.
She prays, meditates, does yoga, drinks Earl Grey tea, takes a "ritual bath" every night with crystals, sea salts and candles.
But her age? Well, she admits to being "mid- to late-twenties."
"I have stopped celebrating birthdays," Colon says. "People look down at you because you're young, and people look down at you because you're elderly. It's a no-win situation. I feel ageless. I feel timeless and ageless."
The pet owner has bad news.
"They just raised the price of doggy day care from $200 to $300 a month," Steve Helton-Edmonson says. "We'll probably be able to afford one more month."
Worse news: The long-anticipated reunion of Max and Diamond, separated for nearly a year by military transfers and housing woes, has been disastrous. The Helton-Edmonsons' new house, in the Magic Hollow section near Lynnhaven Mall, is filled by two very peeved dogs who would like to snap a chunk out of one another.
And Laura Helton-Edmonson is in California, working for another couple months.
"So that really stresses Diamond out," Colon says, "Mom not being here."
Colon advised Laura Helton-Edmonson to keep a picture of Diamond with her, and talk nice to the picture, and talk to Diamond on the phone. Her husband nods: yes, they've done that.
After a month of togetherness, there is doggy detente. Now, they only bark and snap. Steve Helton-Edmonson has them muzzled when they are together, but he mostly keeps them separate; when Max is roaming the house, Diamond is in the kennel, and supposedly vice-versa, except that it's tough to keep Max in the cage because he's got this thick fur that makes him hot.
All of which Colon knows, because Diamond just told her so.
"It's important that they feel nobody is favored," Colon says, fussing with Diamond's new collar.
Colon closes her eyes and breathes deeply for a moment. Helton- Edmonson puts Diamond into the laundry room and brings Max into the living room.
"He's a lot happier," Colon says, lying down on the floor next to the shaggy dog. "Last time I was here, he was depressed. Very sad."
She reaches to touch his paw, then draws her hand back.
"I won't take your bone," she promises.
"Did he growl?" Helton-Edmonson asks.
"It's OK, it's his bone," she answers.
Colon touches the paw again. The dog's skin is red and raw from being licked, which is Max's nervous way of dealing with stress.
"You really should put castor oil on it," Colon tells Helton- Edmonson. "That's the miracle substance."
"Charisse, when am I supposed to get castor oil?" he argues. "This is literally the first time I've been home before dark in weeks."
"You can get it at Rite Aid, or Walgreen."
Helton-Edmonson holds up his hands, palms out.
"I can only do so much," Colon says.
Despite this frisson of tension, the pet owner is a big fan of the pet psychic. "I am so anti-choke collar, anti-shock collar," he says. "But her leaping and growling, the aggressive behavior, was just unacceptable."
With Colon's help, he says, Diamond has become calmer. Like a dog who's had only 75 cups of coffee.
It's not the peaceable kingdom. But it's a start.