Raising Rabbits

We don’t know anything about raising rabbits so we are always happy when something comes along to enlighten us. Two of our books, ANGEL ANIMALS and ANGEL ANIMALS BOOK OF INSPIRATION, contain some great rabbit stories. Over the years, we’ve talked with people who are devoted to their pet rabbits. A lovely site for rabbit lovers and the curious, like us, is www.bunspace.com.

Recently we received a book about rabbits. In the letter accompanying the book, one of the authors, Kathy Smith, wrote, “I am passionate about rabbits! Every rabbit who has shared my home has had a profound impact on my life. Your Angel Animals books helped inspire me to team up with Lucile Moore to create the enclosed volume. We hope you will enjoy our book as much as we have enjoyed yours.

“Our goal in publishing this book is to help reduce the number of discarded Easter bunnies by sharing stories about both the joys and challenges of living with rabbits in an entertaining format. Our vision is to reach out to non-bunny people so that next Easter they will think of rabbits as wise and gentle teachers rather than as disposable pets.

“Lucile and I are committed to donating a portion of the proceeds from every copy sold to animal organizations. We are actively seeking a national multi-species nonprofit partner to help us gain exposure beyond the “rabbit world” in exchange for a portion of the profits. If you have any contacts in this area — or other suggestion on how to promote our book to the general public — we would be most grateful for your advice.”

TOUCHED BY A RABBIT: A Treasury of Stories about Rabbits and Their People by Lucile Moore and Kathy Smith (Infinity Publishing, 2009, ISBN: 0-7417-5275-8, info@buybooksontheweb.com, www.buybooksontheweblcom, (877) BUY BOOK or (610) 941-9999)

The back cover describes the book like this: “TOUCHED BY A RABBIT acquaints readers with the third most popular mammalian pet, the rabbit. The anthology includes a selection to suit every taste, from light-hearted vignettes featuring a single aspect of rabbit personality to longer stories that explore the depth and impact of the human/rabbit bond. Readers will delight in this rare glimpse into the true nature of the widely recognized but little-understood ‘bunny’ as presented in this volume of heartwarming and thought-provoking stories.”

Sounds good to us! What about you? Any rabbit stories you’d like to share with our readers and us?

FedEx or FedCat – Animals as Messengers

Speedy and Cuddles

Speedy and Cuddles

As we work on this article, our cats, Speedy and Cuddles, are sprawled out in the office chair, patiently watching us work. Leaf, our intelligent black cocker spaniel, bats a bouncy ball around and looks over to see if we have it in us to play with him. Our cockatiel Sunshine perches in his large cage probably wondering how he’s survived one more year, living in a home with so many natural predators. It seems that each of the Andersons approach life in our own way.
    
If you live with an animal or animals, you’ve probably noticed what we have: Sometimes, when we’re too thickheaded to listen or learn any other way, God sends an animal messenger-an angel animal, as we call them-to help us figure out our next steps. So, as the typing on this article continues, Allen writes the following sentence: “When a human tells you that he or she loves you unconditionally, the very fact that it had to be said means the person knows nothing about unconditional love.”

Cuddles jumps up near the keyboard, presses the backstop, and erases this line. Allen realizes that what he’s wrote would have taken the piece in a whole different direction – maybe a little too harsh; maybe a little off the point.
    
Was Cuddles simply playing a role or is she a spiritual being, guided by Spirit to help us write a better article? One which doesn’t pass judgment on people or animals? Or is Cuddles’s erasure mere mischief and coincidence?
   
You decide.
    
We’ve had enough of these experiences to conclude that, if we’re open to receive, animals definitely deliver messages. We have no idea what they know or how they think. We just appreciate how the Divine uses them as vehicles for helping us in more ways than we can count.
    
Animals are spiritual messengers for people but they also assist each other. Amy Berk from Minnesota writes, “When Belle & Ruby were kittens, they’d snuggle up to me in bed on winter nights. I still kept several doors closed to keep them in a more confined area while they were getting used to the house. One night, as I lay in bed, Belle kept jumping off the bed and walking down the hall. Suddenly I heard this unearthly scream coming from the usually silent Belle. I jumped up to find her sitting in front of my closed office door. I swung the door open, and there sat Ruby, her golden eyes flashing in the light. I had unknowingly shut her in this room. I praised Belle for coming to her sister’s aid.

Why do you to have a pet?
    
We sometimes hear or read the argument that living with a pet isn’t a reasonable or logical lifestyle choice. The financial cost of vet bills and food, the additional cleaning that is necessary, and other responsibilities seem prohibitive to some. And why would people willingly put themselves through emotional loss, when they know that someday a beloved animal will leave or die? Many who have never lived with animals question the motivation (and sanity) of those who share their homes and lives with pets.
    
For those who haven’t experienced the human-animal spiritual connection, sincere animal lovers seem to lack common sense. Pet lovers are accused of having emotional weakness and immaturity springing from their lack of “real” human contact and companionship. They must be severely bored to need animals as their source of amusement.
    
When Allen types this line at his computer, Speedy looks at the screen as if to ask, “Do you think that’s true? Do I amuse you?” Allen strokes his hand down the cat’s back and replies, “Yes, you do, but that’s not the only reason we love you.”
    
Speedy seems to know exactly what to do when we need encouragement. His special way to offer comfort is to touch his paw ever so gently on the shoulder of the one who needs a little extra T.L.C. His eyes peer straight into that person’s heart and without one word spoken say, “You are loved.” 
    
Do you notice when an animal gives you a gentle touch and wide-eyed, innocent look of unconditional love? If you ignore these signals that love is all around, may we suggest you become more observant and grateful? You’ll be glad you did.
    
Andrea Vivian wrote to us about an animal whose gentle touch and compassion helped her cope with pain and loss. She writes, “My husband and I adopted Inky from the Humane Society in 1990. When our last dog, Cocoa, passed away, we went back to SPCA to look for another dog. On that Sunday morning, the workers opened Inky’s cage, and he immediately jumped into my husband’s lap and started kissing and licking him. 
    
“All that I now have left of their wonderful relationship is memories. You see, my husband, Joe, passed away. Since then, Inky and I are inseparable. He has been my shadow, as if he’s protecting me from the outside world. 
    
“Inky is over twelve years old. He has a cataract and is going deaf. But he still seems happy and alert. He adores me, and I adore him. This little guy is so special. I can’t even put into words what he means to me. When I’d be up crying all night, missing my husband, Inky would climb in my lap and kiss away the tears. His unconditional love is unbelievable.”
    
Can you make a decision to develop a keener sense of spiritual communication with people and animals? Could you resolve to accept more love into your life when you hear the song of a bird, the bark of a dog, or the sweet meow of a cat? 

The Bonds of Divine Love Between People and Animals

As we write, we’re being watched (coached?) by our rescued cat, friend, and co-worker Cuddles. She curls up and observes with her loving eyes gently focused upon us. Throughout licking her paws and stretching, Cuddles continues to be steadfast in her presence. We dearly love her.

Is part of her spiritual mission in this life to support ours? We believe it is.

We, as do others, have important messages to bring to a world where there is so much suffering, turmoil, and loneliness. We long for people to understand that the bonds of divine love between people and animals, and among animals for each other, transcend fear, anger, rivalry, and isolation. Repeatedly, it is the animals who teach a better way to all of us. We recently visited New Orleans to give a presentation about Angel Animals and the heroic efforts of animal rescuers on the Gulf Coast after Katrina.

We gave our talk to the veterinarian technicians for whom we have the highest regard and respect. They were attending a reception at the American Veterinary Technician Association’s annual conference.  Our talk was meant to be a reminder about the necessity of cherishing the spiritual connection with animals.

In our book “RESCUED: Saving Animals from Disaster,” excerpted below, we tell the story of a man who witnessed the heroics of an animal during the worst conditions. This man marveled at a dog who loved his mate more than he valued his own safety and comfort. His story sets the tone for our book. With the retelling of this heart-opening experience, we pause to remember that animals often fulfill the spiritual mission of showing people how to be more compassionate human beings.

“Days after the levees in New Orleans broke, Chris Cutter, communications director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, worked on a boat that maneuvered through toxic water. No one, human or animal, would have wanted to spend a minute more than necessary in it. Chris recalls, ‘We saw a dog swimming in the muck.’ Chris’s boat steered toward the dog. Instead of allowing the rescuers to help him into the vehicle, the dog turned around and swam away from the boat. That is when they heard barking coming from inside a house.

“The rescuers steered to follow the dog. He led them to the back of his house where a female dog, ‘his girlfriend,’ as Chris calls her, was trapped inside. Only after the rescuers freed the female dog did this big, shaggy husky allow the rescuers to haul him into the boat.

“As the boat moved away one of the rescuers petted him, saying, ‘You’re such a good boy.’ Her hand jerked suddenly off the dog’s head, as if she had touched a sizzling stove. ‘My hand is burning,’ she told Chris.

“‘The dog could have saved himself,’ Chris says. ‘Instead, he swam off so we would find his girlfriend. When you are dealing with things like that, it is hard not to think that there is a validity in what you are doing. That there is something bigger going on.'”

This dog made a conscious decision and was acting with purpose to save a life. Thank goodness for Chris and the animal rescuers. They listened to their intuition and inner guidance and decided to follow this brave dog back to his barely surviving mate.

Has a rescued animal inspired greatness and generosity in you?

In the August 26, 2007 issue of this newsletter we published Annette Fisher’s story about her rescue of Janice the pig.  The story, “Inspired by a Pig” brought a lot of response from our readers.  The story is reprinted below the photograph of Janice the pig.
 
Annette gave us an update on Janice.
 
“Janice is still hanging in there with us! She enjoyed some fresh grapes earlier today and has three new duck friends who sit around her at times and keep her company. We keep thin sheets over her during this muggy weather and fly season, and she is ‘pretty in pink’ with fly ointment smeared around her ears to keep the flies away from her face. It figures that every time I go to buy the fly ointment, they are out of the clear and only have the pink kind left.
 
“Janice has a new photo of herself in this month’s edition of our Happy Trails August newsletter, which can be seen at our website at www.happytrailsfarm.org, if you want to check it out.
 
“Thanks SO much for sharing her (our) story again – Janice is an inspiration to me and has helped such a tremendous number of animals through Happy Trails that it amazes me every time. I sit with her and think about what she accomplished by simply being here in this world as a once-neglected pig.”                                   

pigimage

INSPIRED BY A PIG
By Annette Fisher

Six years ago I met a lady who was selling horse equipment at a tack swap. We were comparing notes on how difficult it was to go on vacation and have someone take care of your horses and farm animals in the way you want them to be cared for. She said that she was getting ready to go on a vacation and would be glad to pay me if I would come over every day and take care of her animals. I immediately agreed to help.

Upon arrival at her farm to learn about feeding and daily routines, I was shown quite a variety of horses, dogs, cats, a donkey, a farm hog, and a long list of other furry creatures. We came to a small door that opened into a tiny, completely closed-in pen located inside her horse barn. While peering through this small door, I could see thick spider webs and their creators hanging low from the ceiling. There, in her own filth and waste, lay a 150 pound potbelly pig. She was unable to move, and her front legs curled up underneath her. She had no hair; her skin was thick and peeling.

In complete amazement at seeing this poor creature, I blurted out, “My God, what happened to this pig?” I was told that someone had brought her to the farm about six years ago and they had dropped her getting her off the truck. “I think they broke her legs,” the woman calmly explained.

“What did your vet say?” I asked. My mouth dropped open in utter disbelief as I heard the reply, “Oh, we never called a vet.”

The farm’s owner then left on her vacation and was supposed to be gone only three days. This pig tore at my heart and haunted my thoughts each time I would leave the farm. I would open the door so that she could get some fresh air. I found straw for bedding so she wouldn’t have to lay in such filthy conditions. The owner decided to stay gone for another day, then another day. Finally a week went by before she returned home.

“How much do I owe you for feeding?” she asked.

“How about just giving me your crippled pig?” I replied, terrified that she wouldn’t agree to such a request. The deal was agreed upon, and I took Janice, the pig, to our local veterinarian for a complete physical and exam. Having worked at that farm for a week, not only did I not make any money, but it cost me $280 in an hour at the vet clinic.

X-rays showed that Janice’s legs weren’t broken but had atrophied due to being kept in such horrible conditions in such a small area. She would never be able to walk normally, and the bones in her front knees would continue to fuse. I discussed euthanasia with the vet and asked if it would be kinder to let her go.

The vet’s reply was kind and sympathetic with an emphatic no!  “Annette, this is the best the pig’s ever had it,” the vet said. “Let her enjoy life for a while, and she’ll let you know when she’s ready to go.”  That was six years ago.

What the vet was talking about was that we had built Janice her own log cabin, fairly large, complete with heat lamps in it for the cold winter temperatures. We filled her log cabin with extra thick straw for her bed and gave her old sleeping bags and blankets to snuggle under. Her fur grew back, her skin healed, and I had gained her trust. 

She would look for me to bring her healthy snacks and hold her water bowl so that she could get drinks easily. Janice was given an arthritis supplement for any discomfort in her legs, and we gave and continue to give her daily body massages.

A few months had passed after welcoming Janice to our farm. We then again rescued another potbelly piggy, a youngster we named George. We presented him to Janice as her companion. The two eventually became best friends and they enjoyed each other’s company immensely. George grew up with Janice and now loves her with all his heart. George travels around our farm and takes stories back to Janice about the other animals he meets and greets.

This heart-breaking experience with Janice made me wonder — if this poor pig was hidden in a barn and needed help, what other farm animals might be hidden in barns but need special care? I started to inquire with county humane societies and animal protective leagues across our state about what happened to farm animals that were removed from abuse situations. Their options weren’t always great. Some agencies would euthanize the farm animals, since many were designed to handle only domestic animals. Several agencies were reluctant to even remove the farm animals from neglect because they had nowhere to take them.

I decided that people needed to learn to treat the farm animals with compassion and give them the proper care and respect that they deserved. Janice, the pig, was my inspiration to create the organization now known as Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization located in Ravenna, Ohio. We focus on the rescue, rehabilitation, and adoptions of farm animals who have been removed from situations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

This beautiful, loving, sweet, crippled pig, who now loves peppermints and belly rubs and good conversations, is credited with founding an organization that has now helped over 550 farm animals. In the past six years abused and neglected farm animals have received medical treatment, hope, love, compassion, and a chance at enjoying a life of peace and comfort with their new human companions.

My bond with Janice is incredible. She continues to be healthy and to thrive on attention. I have come to understand her language, and she is very vocal about her thoughts. She makes a rather low and quiet noise that sounds like the word “boof” when she is happy and content and all is right with her world. When expressing displeasure about a late meal or not being in the mood for her drink of water, she very loudly proclaims a noise that sounds like “uhboooooo!”

Janice still scoots around as opposed to being able to walk normally but she enjoys her time outdoors and loves the smell of her freshly-washed blankies. Thanks to this one very very special pig and what she endured in her earlier lifetime, an overwhelming number of other farm animals were given a new lease on life. These rescued animals have, in turn, touched the lives of so many people — their caretakers at the sanctuary, the vets who treat them, and their newly adoptive families. I have to very humbly say that Janice is one absolutely incredible pig..

BIO:
Annette Fisher is the executive director of Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, Inc. Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary is located in Ravenna, Ohio and has an extensive website and lists farm animals available for adoption.  Visit www.happytrailsfarm.org. Private donations fund the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that rescues abused farm animals.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

Has a rescued animal inspired greatness and generosity in you?

 

Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon Help NOLA Animals

While researching and writing our book, Rescued: Saving Animals from Disaster, we visited New Orleans to meet some of the courageous people who did so much to help the animals. We spent an afternoon with the folks at Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) and found them to be determined to do what is needed to help displaced and suffering animals.

In the Kinship Circle January 30, 2008 newsletter (kinshipcircle@accessus.net) we recently read that on Christmas Eve day, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and their two children, volunteered at ARNO. According to the report these celebrities worked for four hours. They walked dogs and painted cat cage pedestals. They even got to see the ARNO team in action.

The article  says, “Styx and Journey were next door. One of the Bacon family, we won’t say exactly which one, wasn’t quick enough to get to the gate. Styx and Journey took off running at high speed. Without a word, we all sprang into action.

“Kyra said it was like watching a SWAT team. We made sure to let them know they were now part of a very special and elite group, ARNO volunteers.”

Please go to animalrescueneworleans.org to help out these wonderful volunteers who have never given up on the animals of New Orleans. At the website learn more about what the organization is doing to keep stranded animals alive and to prepare for the safety and well being of animals and people in future disasters.

What do you think? Does it help when celebrities bring attention to what is needed with an animal organization such as ARNO?

Can Cats Be Trained?

petsidebar18We read an article that blew us away with how improbable (impossible) what it described seemed to be. “Here, Kitty, Kitty, Jump Through the Hoop” by Sharon L. Peters, special for USA Today, January 29, 2008 tells about the newest rage in agility contests for cats.

According to Peters there is now an International Cat Agility Tournament that held twenty-five shows at The International Cat Association clubs in the United States and one hundred shows around the world. The cats, just as with dogs, are trained with clicker training which couples a clicking sound followed by a reward when the cat does what a mere human requests.

Even with all the training and treats, some cats who make it into these shows decide to display their independent streaks. Carol Osborne, a certified ringmaster for the shows, recalls a feline who got the nickname Perimeter Cat. When he walked into the ring at the shows, he’d avoid every obstacle. The cat lovers cheered. Here was an independent kitty just like all the ones they know and love.

In these agility events, there have been purebreds, house cats, shelter cats, a blind cat, and a three-legged cat competing.

Have you ever tried to train a cat? How do you coax cats into doing what you want them to do?

Will Animal and People Live in an Enlightened World?

 

In her book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, author Amy Tan writes, “I was like a turtle lying on its back, struggling to know why the world was upside down.” How likely is it that much of the world is like that turtle, trying to view the complex animal-human relationship from a perspective that only yields false results?

In an enlightened world the veil would be lifted, and golden threads that connect all life would become visible.

In an enlightened world you would communicate easily with species that have lived on this earth longer than people, can move about it more freely, and view life in an entirely unique way. Animals would become a valued resource for decision-making, health, and happiness.

In an enlightened world there would be no doubt that the souls of animals survive death and move on into an afterlife. You would be comforted in the knowledge that you’ll be reunited with those who have placed their indelible paw prints upon your heart.

Even though you personally may be enlightened about your spiritual connection with animals, unfortunately we’re not living in an enlightened world–yet.

In our opinion future generations will look back on our modern-day era and ask, “Can you believe back then people actually didn’t know that animals are souls?” Our cultures will seem as primitive as previous periods in history when one class, society, clan, or tribe looked down on, treated cruelly, or subjugated another and justified their actions with the viewpoint that the enslaved had no feelings, no ability to care for themselves or to make choices, no awareness, no souls. Today’s humans will appear to be arrogant people who confused the power to dominate with being superior to those who fell under their rule.

We invite you to reflect on the following questions. Observe how you and your special animal friends have served as spiritual catalysts for each other.

What have animals contributed to your physical, mental, and emotional health?

How have your sacred companions transformed you into a more whole and complete spiritual being?

Why and when animals have entered your life?

Could you have soul agreements with them?

What do you think are the promises you might have made to one another before entering this world?

Is there a special animal who had a spiritual purpose for choosing to be with you?

Mugsie

Mugsie

In many spiritual writings and teachings it’s mentioned that before a soul enters a body, the soul make agreements to meet and interact with other souls. When they meet in this life, the two souls have a sense of rightness about being together.

We believe that animals are souls in furry, fuzzy, and feathery bodies. They make soul agreements to enter a person’s life at exactly the right time and to leave it when their spiritual mission is completed. These animals become our spiritual partners in this life and meet us again in heaven.

We’ve received many stories from people who adopted animals and couldn’t shake the feeling that the decision had been mutual. Others have written to us that they’ve rescued animals who, in turn, rescued them.

What do you think? Have you had experiences with an animal who has chosen to be part of your life, perhaps to adopt you? Is there a special animal who had a spiritual purpose for choosing to be with you?

A Little Help Along Life’s Journey

Allen and Linda Anderson

Allen and Linda Anderson

We recently gave a talk at a Rotary Club in Minneapolis. We spoke about how animals make people better human beings. We had a wonderful time, and those attending seemed to enjoy our presentation with a lot of questions and comments afterwards. Later, we received an email from one of the attendees.

The letter writer, an avowed dog lover, had bought one of our books and took it with him for a volunteer missionary job in Rwanda. He had gone to this strife-filled country to build a research center that will help in the fight against the AIDS epidemic. He had first gotten interested in this project because his Rotary club was building an orphanage and clinic in Rwanda. The orphanage, sadly, was necessary due to the hundreds and thousands of orphans in the country.

He writes, “There are NO dogs here. I miss my two golden retrievers very much, and not having other dogs around to at least pet is bad when you are homesick like I am. So reading your book, GOD’S MESSENGERS, makes me even more homesick. But reading your book did have a bright spot — actually I like the book very much and am reading it each morning as part of my devotions.

While reading the book, this man recognized the name of a story contributor. This was someone he had known in the early eighties when they both had been involved in youth-program charity work for their church. He asked if we would help him re-connect, and we forwarded his email on to the story’s author.

Then he ended his letter by saying, “Thinking about you two and what you have done for dogs and dog lovers (all pet lovers) has inspired me to see how I might earn a living in the Twin Cities when I return in September by working with dogs/pets/people. If you have any ideas along those lines I’d really appreciate it. Keep up the good work. May your day be blessed by the Lord.”

Well, this day-brightener certainly did bless our day. As we mentioned at the start of sharing this experience, it brought out two important points we have witnessed repeatedly through the years.

First, people who are compassionate toward animals tend to also give service to humans. The view that animal enthusiasts love animals because of some inability to relate to or like people just doesn’t prove to be true.

When we wrote the book RESCUED about animal rescue, we asked the interviewees what other charity work they did. Their devotion to alleviating human suffering was equal to or exceeded by what they did for animals. They all seemed to get the message: Rescue an animal and you either improve or heal a human family. Because animals ARE family members.

Second, and this is related to the first, there is a golden thread of Divine Love that connects animal lovers. They find each other, they support each other, they understand each other. The animals touch their hearts and bring them together in sometimes-miraculous ways.

This is one of the reasons we so enjoy publishing our Angel Animals newsletter. The community of thousands of animal lovers all over the world that reads it each week energizes and sustains us.

How have animals brought you closer to people and to giving service to others?

* * *

ANGEL ANIMALS STORY OF THE WEEK

A LITTLE HELP ALONG LIFE’S JOURNEY
By Barbara Welch

On Mother’s day in 2008, we tried to keep a stray dog, but she would not stay with us. One week later we saw some college students walking with the same dog. I asked them if the dog was theirs, and they said, “No, but we have been taking care of her.”

The dog was a female Lab-German shepherd mix. She was about nine months old and had short white hair and baby blue eyes. I asked the students if they wanted me to keep the dog. I offered to contact an animal rescue group to be sure the dog would be safe in its care and find a good home. I decided to take care of the dog for a week.

I am a diabetic and was facing the prospect of needing to take a third medication for the diabetes. I started walking this dog three times per day in spite of my heel problems. Because of walking her everyday, I stopped craving caffeine, sugar, etc. My blood sugar numbers came down. I made a total turnaround in only two weeks and I felt peaceful and rested. The walking really did me some good, even though my feet were killing me.

Now, our local shelter has adopted the dog out to a good home. I would have kept her, but I know our cats well and could see that they did not approve. Ours wouldn’t have been the best situation for the dog. I felt such a connection with that dog, but I did not name her, because it would have been harder for me to let her go. I know God sent her to me temporarily just when I needed some encouragement to get out of my house and exercise.

I am very thankful that the dog came into my life when she did. I had been praying for God to help me with my diabetes, and the answer to my prayers came in the form of an animal. Since the dog graced my life, I have continued to walk and ride my bike at least two miles per day. My blood sugar is still under control, and my doctor said I do not have to take the new medication. Praise the Lord.

BIO:
Barbara Welch is forty-five years old and has been married twenty-one years. She is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. Barbara plays the piano, crochets, and sews. She loves all kinds of music and listens mostly to Christian contemporary but enjoys a good dose of 1980s rock and roll.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

Has an animal ever entered your life temporarily and helped you to heal or left a permanent paw print on your heart? (Send your stories to angelanimals@angelanimals.net.