Saturday Morning Animal Rituals

petsWe have Saturday rituals. We tell our dog Leaf that Saturday is a day of great adventure and fun.  Our bird, Sunshine gets new millet on Saturday and a complete cleaning of his cage.  The cats, Speedy and Cuddles, also have a Saturday ritual that involves new kitty litter and Allen’s purchase of their favorite cat food.

Leaf’s alert attention to every turn helps Allen drive Linda to the screenwriting group she attends three Saturdays each month. The meeting is in the city’s center, and Leaf is fascinated with all the downtown activities.  He watches with a mixture of concern and excitement when Linda leaves the car to enter the front of a high-rise building.

After dropping Linda off for her workshop Allen drives Leaf to the dog park near a city lake. He repeatedly throws the ball so Leaf has plenty of playtime and running.  After Leaf tires, they sit and relax on a large hollowed-out log and watch the other dogs and their people.  Allen and Leaf often discuss the different dogs — which ones are nice; which ones are too rough…

After the visit to dog park Allen and Leaf go to a local, small pet supply store to buy the very best dog, cat, and bird food. The boxes of dog treats are at floor level and they turn Leaf into a shoplifter. He also enjoys the row of dog toys and buckets of chew bones.

Because there is so much to smell and experience, Leaf is excited at this store, bouncing from one thing to another. He sniffs, explores, and enjoys every moment.

This morning, when Allen and Leaf were in the aisle that had anti-itch spray products for the cat, Allen was reading ingredients while Leaf poked his nose into each toy to discover which ones squeaked. A ten-year-old boy came up and asked if he could pet Leaf. Allen said yes.  Still hyper from the nearness of so many goodies, Leaf ran over to the boy for a quick pat on the head. Then he rushed back to the toys to continue his investigation.

Allen told the boy that Leaf was excited to be in the store. The young fellow looked sad and tired. He spoke quietly and said, “My dog died yesterday.”

Allen gently said, “It must hurt a lot.”

The little boy replied, “Yes, it does.”  He added that his dog had died of cancer and lost any awareness of where he was at the end.

Leaf stopped poking his nose at the toys. This seemed odd, because nothing distracts this dog from a good toy hunt. But now, he seemed to be listening as the child spoke with such sorrow about his dog.

Abandoning the search for a perfect squeaky toy, Leaf walked back to the boy. This time, he stayed a little longer as the child petted him.  Allen remained quiet while Leaf comforted this grieving child.

When Leaf moved away from the boy this time, he did not rush but walked with more of a deliberate and focused presence. The boy looked up at Allen. The sparkle in his eyes revealed that our healing little cocker spaniel had silently, for a moment, lifted the burden of loss from his heart. He said thank you and went back to his parents.

Leaf keeps his secrets to himself, so we don’t know exactly why he does things like this. Our belief is that a loving animal like Leaf is an instrument of the Divine. Someone’s heart is broken, and Spirit directs a creature with a wagging tail, soft fur, sweet eyes, and a kind heart in the direction where he’s most needed.

What do you think? Has an animal intuitively sensed that you needed comforting and gave it to you?

How do you share your space with animals in the wild?


On June 18, 2009, we posted the question above on our Facebook Angel Animals Fan Club page ( and our Linda-Allen Anderson profile page ( These are some of the answers we received. We thought you would find them fascinating. They have been edited for brevity.

***I live in Western Maine along the Androscoggin River in Canton. We have deer, moose, eagles, some fox, beaver, woodchucks, ground hogs, and the list goes on. I have worked really hard to create somewhat of a wildlife sanctuary for the wildlife to visit.

We have a lot of land and grow various plants, fruit trees, etc. We also have a brook and the river. All of our plants and vegetables are grown organically, and we use no pesticides. We do our best to protect the land, wildlife, and all animals.
–Katherine Mikshenas

***We have a squirrel’s nest right outside our upstairs window. All winter when the wind was blowing, I wondered how he/she was doing. We were happy to see him/her out running around again in the spring. And the squirrel had another squirrel visitor. No signs of little ones yet.

We think of him/her as our very near neighbor. I fed the squirrel an apple once, but she/he ate all of it, got too full, and had to rest on the tree branch. Since then, I just let him/her eat natural food, of which there is plenty. It makes my son and I so happy to watch the squirrel’s goings-on.
–Patrice Reynolds

***We have all kinds of animals. We live by the river, and they feel safe here and do not run from us. We have the only trees in the neighborhood for them to hide in for cover and make nests. We have a bald eagle, robins, deer, raccoons, skunks, fish, snakes, and birds of all kinds. We have many feeders out for them so they stay year round. We have a fishpond with 100 fish in it too. They love it here and have been with us over 20 years.

A robin or eagle builds a house from nothing and it can withstand the high wind and storms. Man has tried many times to do what birds and animals do. Look at beavers build a place to hold water back so they can fish. Smart man can’t. Look at Mother Nature at work. Man tries to change the course of a river, and Mother Nature comes in and takes it back in one day. If all the animals die, so will man.

We feed year-round because we are here all year. And if we go on vacation, we have people come in and feed the animals for us. If we see one hurt, we go to a place that will fix wildlife, so that the animals can get back to the world. The wildlife place does a great job and they charge nothing.
–William E. Wasylk

***We have “domesticated” hummingbirds, meaning we feed them, and they take over our deck. We also enjoy many waterfowl and see beautiful Baltimore Orioles everyday in our yard. I don’t feed the birds because I don’t want to make them dependent on free food since we are not here in the winter.

I’d love to see deer, but the dogs must scare them away. We also have several wrens in nests. They peep and squawk at us when we get too close. We love Nature and respect it all as God’s gift to us in this physical world. There are so many lessons to learn in observation of nature around us.
–Donna Lupinacci

***The neighbor thinks I’m either St. Francis or Dr. Doolittle!
–Joseph J. O’Donnell

***My backyard is 26 acres, and we have deer, turkey, raccoons, groundhogs, owl, whippoorwills, turtles, hummingbirds, snakes, lizards, coyote, many songbirds, frogs, dragonflies, field mice, butterflies, and probably some other things I’m not aware of. Also, I use to feed Wow Koi at the Botanic Garden.
–Joy Lemmons

***We live in the desert and constantly are lucky enough to see jackrabbits, desert ravens, lizards, and occasionally, coyotes. I wish their living space was not shrinking so quickly, though.
–Kathy Bergeron

***On our three-and-a-half acres I have planted over 300 trees since moving here ten years ago. We’ve let the greenery grow wild around the big pond, and the koi pond looks lush. So far this year, we have more wildlife than before. Behind us is a small wildlife
area with eagles, herons, geese, ducks, woodpeckers, owls, coyotes, garden snakes, songbirds, frogs, and poodles. Too many dogs in the neighborhood for deer to come, though.
–Becky McClure Federico

***We are surrounded on three sides by DNR property and therefore have the good fortune to see a variety of wildlife — chipmunks, squirrels, numerous wild songbirds, hawks, herons, egrets, deer, coyotes, rabbits, skunks, frogs, salamanders, insect life, toads, too numerous to mention. When I sometimes get irritated with the bats, it is mainly that I don’t like them in the house but I appreciate their contribution outside.

The absolute worst time is hunting season. All I can do is hope the animals figure out that we’re the good guys. Most of them seem to avoid our two dogs with no difficulty
–Paula Reynolds Nees

What are your experiences with sharing your corner of the world with wildlife?

Allen and Linda Anderson

Soul Agreements



In our books we often write about the sacred agreements animals and people make to find each other and be together. Those of you who have been chosen by an animal know what we’re talking about. You’ve experienced the certainty an animal has about being with you.

But it’s also true when we, as humans, do most of the choosing. A connection is made, sometimes love at first sight, that cannot be denied. We look into the eyes of this animal and just know the relationship was meant to be.

The animals who have blessed our lives brought confirmation of our spiritual agreements to give and receive love, to learn and teach each other. But one of our many pets over the years keeps drifting back to mind as a most gentle companion and soothing family member. Her name was Sparkle. She was a gray cockatiel with bright orange spots on her cheeks.

Unlike her mate Sunshine who thankfully is still with us long past what is supposed to be the lifespan for these birds, Sparkle had a patient, humble nature. Sunshine likes to strut his stuff, screech at the top of his lungs if there’s any disturbance in The Force, and let us know that he’s the boss of the living room. Sunshine speaks. Sparkle never uttered a word.

When she was out of her cage, she’d perch on our shoulders and venture down our arms to peck at buttons on our clothes. It was lovely to watch her bend her head so that we could massage her feathery neck. While she walked along the living room mantel with Sunshine, she would thoroughly take care of her man, slipping his feathers through her beak until he was shiny and clean.

Only a slip of a bird, Sunshine had tremendous will and determination to live. Struck down at a much too early age, she had to endure our giving her hormone shots, as we tried to save her. It was amazing to watch her level of trust. Somehow, she knew we only wanted to help, even though it must have hurt.

How is it that so many years later, we still miss this elfin creature? She taught us that enormous love pours from the tiniest hearts. She made the soul agreement to love Sunshine and us, grooming his feathers and our hair, blessing us with her compassion. We made the soul agreement to care for and love her till her little body could no longer be with us. What a win-win situation.

Who have you made soul agreements with?

Allen and Linda Anderson

Making the Transition from Life Journey to Inspiring Others

Making the Transition from Life Journey to Inspiring Others
Linda Anderson, and

Writers have a collective confession to make. If we are to be honest, we must admit that no matter what kind of hell we are going through, a small voice in our mind is saying, “This will make great writing material someday.”

In the class I have taught at The Loft Literary Center since 1998, “Inspirational Writing and Publishing Today,” I’ve had the honor of helping class members move from their painful or joyful life’s experiences to writing that inspires, informs, and uplifts others. Each class has a gem of give and take as we work together to bring out the best in each other.

My philosophy is to create a safe and sacred place where there is no judgment, and the atmosphere is nurturing and supportive. We exchange ideas and read and discuss examples from masters of the inspirational, memoir, and self-help writing genres. Through practical information that a published author learns over the years, I help to encourage a writer’s self-expression and desire for publication.

The people who take my class are individuals. They may not know how special they are, but I see a spark of divinity in each of them. They have as much (or more) to teach me, as I have to teach them. They use the exercises, techniques, and examples I give to share their life experiences from perspectives that are uniquely their own. What a gift of giving and receiving this class becomes. No wonder so many of the members have continued to meet and keep in touch long after our time together has ended.

On the evaluations that class members fill out during the last session, the comment they most often make is that this class far exceeded their expectations. This happens because I don’t view this class as one that ends. I give the members my materials and insights from writing 14 inspirational books plus hundreds of articles, blogs, and essays. I hope they can continue to refer to class materials as their writing goals form or change.

Here are some comments from previous classes:

“I love the handouts. Your choice of materials educate, enlighten, and ring true.”

“This is a safe atmosphere, non judgmental. Otherwise, I don’t think people would share what they do here.”

“I love the short assignments and the in-class writing exercises”

“I like the way we share with our classmates. Your ability to guide us to a useful form of feedback is helpful to me.”

“I appreciate hearing about your experiences and what others share about their experiences.”

“I see the format and rationale of this class a bit more clearly each week. You are very generous with your time. I am learning as well as making new friends.”

“I’m being stretched in good and productive ways through in-class writing and giving feedback.”

“The best instructor I’ve had – informative, prepared, creative, connected, professional, helpful, and caring.”

“You are quite available and responsive to requests. The one-to-one meetings are of great help.”

“I really appreciate your commitment to being of service to other writers. It is a real rarity to find someone so dedicated and professionally humble. I have bragged extensively to my writer’s group about you and your wisdom. Thank you.”

“I love the organization and fun that you gave the material and I would recommend it to others. Keep inspiring writers. It’s the greatest gift of all.”

“You’re very organized and kept right on track. The readings were great. Perhaps your class was about finishing some healing work on me before I attempt to finish the books I’m writing.”

If you’d like to join me and other writers this summer at The Loft Literary Center for a six-week “Inspirational Writing and Publishing Today” class, go to

This class tends to fill up fast, so consider registering today. I’ll look forward to meeting you and helping you to fulfill your writing dreams.

Leaf Gives a Gift of Love



Allen or Linda takes Leaf to the dog park once a day after work or during a lunch break. Often it is only for 20 minutes, but with the throwing of the ball, running, and playing Leaf gets plenty of exercise. He has a blast!

It was Allen’s turn the other day, and the 20 minutes had lapsed, so he was heading for the gate. Only one lady and her small dog were left in the park. The dog had medium length white hair and looked like a terrier mix. They would be alone after Allen and Leaf’s departure.

Normally Leaf runs to the gate when it’s time to leave. He carries his ball in his mouth and looks ready to go home and enjoy a nap. That day, though, he stood about twenty feet from the gate near the other dog. Up to that point he had mostly ignored the dog. 

Leaf looked at Allen and at the dog and then looked at Allen once again. Allen held the gate open and wondered why Leaf was not running over to leave.

Feeling an inner nudge Allen decided to close the gate and see what would happen. He walked over to the lady, and she started talking about this dog named Murphy whom she described as newly rescued only 24 hours ago. Murphy looked traumatized, scared, and alone even with the woman’s constant reassurance that he now had a forever mommy. Since the time when she had adopted him, Murphy had been so distraught that he had not yet gone to the bathroom.

Murphy looked at Leaf running after his ball once more. His expression conveyed that he wanted to join in the play. Allen bent down and said, “Murphy, you look very handsome.” 

Murphy came over and gently touched his noise on Allen’s hand. Allen then rolled Leaf’s orange ball, and Murphy ran after it. Then he stopped after running five or six feet and hurried back to where his mommy sat. The lady was so happy to see Murphy play and praised him for chasing the ball.

Leaf sat, watching this scene. His tail wagged with energy. He came up to Murphy, and the two dogs stood nose to nose for at least thirty seconds with both of their tails wagging. Leaf seemed to sense that it was still too early for him to play with Murphy. Any sudden movements from him would scare the timid dog even more.  But they had made a dog-to-dog connection.

Like Murphy, Leaf had begun his young life in a puppy mill. Also, like Murphy, Leaf had been abandoned and left to fend for himself. Both dogs had wound up at the same animal shelter from which the lady had rescued Murphy and we had adopted Leaf.

After Allen talked about Leaf’s past some with Murphy’s new mommy, she seemed reassured that healing would take place. She watched Leaf’s healthy and strong personality as he chased the balls Allen threw and strutted around the dog park.

The lady said, “Murphy has a bright future in front of him. He will be spoiled, loved, and safe in his new home.” Allen told the woman about a great doggy daycare in the neighborhood that has helped Leaf be more socialized and also to heal.

Allen and the woman watched as a more relaxed Murphy walked a few feet away to a grassy area that Leaf had used earlier for his restroom needs. Murphy sniffed, circled the area, sniffed again, and at last, was relaxed enough to eliminate.

At that point Leaf seemed to know that his gift of love had been received. He had played with the scared dog, refusing to leave the little fellow alone in the dog park. The concern the dog’s human had expressed over Murphy’s physical needs had now been answered by the call of nature.

Allen and Leaf walked to the gate once more. Leaf carried his orange ball in his mouth.  They both knew that now it was time to go.   

When have you seen a dog or other animal give service to an animal in need?


By Betty Seligman

I was in the bookstore with my son and grandchildren when I saw your book ANGEL CATS. Seeing the book reminded me of the first time I saw my cat Diva and how we made an immediate connection of love.

Diva is my miracle cat. Not only did she want to come home with me, love me, and enjoy my company, she encourages me daily to get up and continue living. Diva became part of my life as a direct result of an accumulation of life events, which I found myself trying to process.

My life had always been a series of wonderful experiences, but when my husband died in 1998, I found myself a newly independent person trying to understand how to live in a world without my companion. I quickly discovered that my roles of stay-at-home wife and mother as well as volunteer did not bring in a great deal of income.

Both my children were grown with families of their own. I had only to be concerned with providing for the family cat Kiki and myself. This was definitely something I had never experienced — I was in charge of making all the decisions.

At the age of 55, I went to work for a start-up company. After seven years I discovered life had once again changed. At the time of my departure from the company, I was a very sad, confused, and angry person. I knew my emotions needed to change, for they were not only affecting me but Kiki, as well.

The environment in our home was so sad; it could not have been healthy for either of us. I cried daily and had a good case of “poor me”. My true wake up call came when Kiki died at home in December 2006. Seattle was experiencing a very severe ice storm at that time, and most businesses were closed on the day Kiki died. I was unable to get to a vet so I spent the day with Kiki, watching as her spirit left her physical body.

The next few months my family tried to encourage me to get another pet. Those seeds were definitely planted, but I felt an overwhelming void and did not know if I had enough love to share with another being. Once I felt my sadness and anger subside, I discovered there was room for love to enter. Nine months after Kiki died, I went to our local pet store and thought I would just look at the cats.

I walked over to where a local cat rescue group had a variety of cats available for new families. There was Diva. She was six years old, a long hair cat, possibly a Maine Coon. We made eye contact. At that moment the adoption was complete, and my healing process began.

Everyday Diva is here is a blessing, and my ability to love becomes stronger. When she first came to live with me, I was very hesitant to love again for I felt in doing so I would somehow not be loyal to my previous cat Kiki or to my husband. I didn’t want anyone to take their places and reminded Diva of this daily for about 3 months. She would just look up at me.

Whenever I sat down, she would jump up on my lap and wait to be petted. Kiki had never been a cat who desired long periods of affection. I was amazed the first time Diva sat on my lap for about 3 hours. She would have stayed longer, but I felt the need to get up and move about.

Diva definitely has won me over. Now I have become in touch with a part of my spirit that has long been neglected. I am able to love again. The sadness that was so much a part of me has given way to joy and peace. She makes getting up each day an adventure that I thought was gone forever.

Visit to view a picture of Diva.

Betty Seligman lives in Seattle, Washington. She has been a stay-at-home wife, mother of two children, and volunteer.

When has an animal taught you to love again or to love more deeply?

First published in the Angel Animals Story of the Week on May 30, 2009.  All rights reserved.
Allen and Linda Anderson

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