ELIZABETH A. CONKEY
BENNINGTON -- "I feel that I have a great responsibility with my ability," Elisabeth Shapero mused, fluffing her bangs with a hand plentifully adorned with colorful rings.
A light purple scarf wrapped around Shapero's neck perfectly matched the heavy application of eye shadow across her lids, and popped against her white T-shirt and black jacket flecked with dog hair.
Shapero's style is unique, eccentric, and speaks volumes as to who she is as a person and the professional path she has chosen to take in her life. Nothing about her is ordinary.
Known to many in the area as "Mrs. Dolittle," Shapero has gained popularity both locally and remotely over the years as an animal communicator and healer under the umbrella of her business, "Mrs. Dolittle: The Healer in High Heels." To say Shapero is spiritual would be a bit of an understatement.
About 30 years ago, while living in New York City, Shapero had a tarot card reading by Frank Andrews, a world-renowned intuitive and card reader. During the reading, Andrews told Shapero that she had "the mark of the mystic" in her hand, or had a gift of intuitive abilities. This came as no surprise to Shapero, who said she always knew she had a gift, even as a young child.
"It was as though someone told me, ‘you have brown eyes,'" Shapero said. "It wasn't shocking or surprising. It just was."
Shapero remained in contact with Andrews, constantly keeping her "gift" in the forefront of her mind, but was busy working as a lead field and state organizer for Walter F. Mondale during his presidential campaign.
Shapero, who comes from a politically-centered family, holds a law degree from Hofstra University and is also a graduate of Bennington College.
As exciting and impressive as her career was at the time, Shapero explained that her heart just was not in it.
She yearned to return to Vermont, a place she and her family frequented throughout her childhood, and a state she said always felt like her "heart home." In 2003, Shapero made a complete lifestyle change, moving to Bennington from New York with her daughter Isabella, and making the decision to channel her "gift," but to focus solely on animals in the process. Thus, her business was born, and her nickname, too, which was given to Shapero by Andrews.
Among the healing services Shapero offers include hands-on healing, and hospice care for animals.
Over her years working as a healer, Shapero said she explored an array of different modalities which she has since tailored to work specifically for animals, including massage, aromatherapy, and reiki, just to name a few.
She also coins herself as an animal communicator, or "empath," which is to say she is able to feel what animals are feelings and articulate those feelings an animal's owner.
"I think of myself not as an animal whisperer, but a listener," Shapero said. "I don't know how I do what I do. It's just part of my fabric, I guess you could say."
Shapero said she also practices distance healing over the phone and has worked with animals and owners from as far away as Europe.
When it comes to her healing efforts, Shapero said she often finds herself working alongside veterinarians, usually during an end-of-life situation.
"There have been times when I've just sat with an animal, kept my hands on them and made them feel at peace until they are released from their shell," Shapero said. "My work is overwhelmingly rewarding. It's really all about love."
And love she certainly does, especially her own animals, of which she has a house-full, both cats and dogs.
Shapero can often be seen driving around Bennington in her signature "Mrs. Dolittle" red truck, with a dog or three taking up the back seat, and front, for that matter.
She noted that both her work and business have been well-received by the Bennington community, in addition to neighboring areas, and joked that community members often hunt her down to make an appointment when they spot her red truck.
Shapero's work keeps her busy but she wouldn't have it any other way.
"There are no words to express what a delight it is to do what I do," Shapero said. "My work both startles and delights me every day. It amazes me too."
To view the full list of services offered by Shapero, visit www.mrsdolittle.com or find The Healer in High Heels on Facebook. To speak with her directly, call 802-773-8333.
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @bethconkey.