Each person has nine animal essences or totems that walk through life with them, teaching and guiding them and in some cases, protecting them. These nine totems usually remain the same throughout your lifetime; however, major life alterations can cause some or all of your totems to change. Thesetotems are around your spirit: East, South, West, North, Above, Below and Within. The last two animals are walking beside you at all times; your Right Side (male) and your Left Side (feminine). While sometimes the living animal is around you, most often they are only the essence of the animal.
At different times in your life, you may also have Special Helpers and/or Special Protectors. These stay with you for an limited period of time, depending on the challenges that you must face. They usually appear in person, in dreams or during meditation.
There are three different types of animals souls: the high protector animal souls, the familiars, and the lower animal souls.
There are only three high protectors: Dragon, Phoenix and Unicorn/Pegasus (whose souls are interchangeable). These souls only incarnate when there is a living animal like them; if not, they stay in spirit form and are connected only to older souls.
The familiars are animal souls that are connected through an energy link to only one person, usually someone who has psychic or magical abilities. There is nothing evil about them and they are not demons in way, shape or form. They are simply animal souls who have formed a bond with one person. Familiars are hive souls -- seven souls in total -- with one or two souls incarnating while the rest stay in spirit form. They are usually of the cat and dog genus (incl. tigers, wolves, etc.). People who work with Magic sometimes have birds familiars, usually Ravens, Crows, Magpies or Owls. The familiars take turns incarnating, although one soul might have closer ties to their person and incarnate more often than the others. Familiars only incarnate to their soul person -- when not incarnate, they stay in spirit form.
All other animals (including dogs, cats and birds who are not familiars) are lower animal souls. They can move between species but stay on this planet, while high protectors and familiars stay with your soul in its various incarnations on different planets.
Whales and Dolphins are higher souls than animal souls but younger souls than human souls. They are sentient beings.