Division of Labor – The Way of the Pet

petspetspetssmallOne of the issues that often irk today’s ultra-busy woman is the need for an equitable division of labor. She longs for her husband and children to do their fair share in keeping the household operating efficiently. She wants coworkers to pitch in at the workplace. Complaints abound when the major part of the responsibility falls on female shoulders.

Our animal family members have wrapped their paws around this prickly issue and come up with their own creative solutions.

We have no idea how the animals, who share our home, have decided what chores they should do or how they’ve figured out which of them should have certain responsibilities. We just know that they do.

The division of labor goes something like this.

Leaf sleeps near the bedroom hallway door if Linda or Allen are out of town, as if he is waiting for them to return. This isn’t where he sleeps at night when his two humans are both home. He is normally on his doggy bed.  He also has ultimate responsibility of keeping watch if Allen is out of town because he becomes the man of the house.

Cuddles, our black kitten with white-mitten paws, is Linda’s guardian angel. Cuddles follows her charge everywhere and won’t even take a nap until she knows exactly where her female human is. Whenever Cuddles sleeps on the bed with Linda she takes on the task of waking her a minute before the alarm rings. She licks her human’s fingers or bites them, if Linda won’t get up right away.

Food preparation comes under the watchful eye of our pudgy, food-loving cat, Speedy and our eager dog, Leaf. What meal would be complete without Speedy rubbing against the chef’s legs and purring his satisfaction and Leaf alert for any escaping pieces of food that might hit the floor?

Sunshine is the household’s watch-bird. If anyone approaches our home, he screeches at the top of his lungs. No one could ever sneak past his watchful vigilance.

There is some silent communication about who is supposed to handle each task, although no visible signs of a household manager. Just a smooth animal operation at the Andersons’ home.

Are pets demonstrating in your home divisions of labor for vital chores, jobs, and power positions?

We welcome you to answer this question and the “Something to Think About” question at our blogs and forums, so everyone can see your comments.

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Join Allen & Linda at the Minnesota State Fair

Interview with Sage Lewis, The Creature Teacher! on her radio show The Pet Playground on Sunday, August 30, 2009, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time at the AM950 KTNF Booth, Minnesota State Fair. Allen and Linda will discuss their new book, HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service. Stop by the booth. Sage will give away a free book. Call in the listener line at 952-946-6205.

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We hope you’ll consider pre-ordering HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service (New World Library, September 1, 2009). It’s available, autographed, at Angel Animals Online Bookstore, www.shop.angelanimals.net, Amazon.com (http://is.gd/2idLM), Barnes & Noble (http://is.gd/2iHQy), Borders Books & Music (http://is.gd/2iHWO), New World Library (http://is.gd/2iI1P) and other online and independent bookstores.

“Through their courage, sensitivity, and kindness, the horses in this book become our inspiration and guides.”
–Michael Mountain, former president of Best Friends Animal Society

Go to www.horseswithamission.com to read excerpts of the book, see video clips of stories, and join in the fun of launching this exciting new book.

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Don’t forget to enter the Dogs and the Women Who Love Them True Story Contest described in the announcement below. We’re looking forward to reading your stories. CONTEST DEADLINE — SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 — IS FAST-APPROACHING.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

The Secrets of a Rescued Pet

One of the aspects of pet rescue that most people experience is getting to know something about the animal that you never even suspected. Our cocker spaniel Leaf has brought us surprises from time to time that reveal his secret past. This morning, Allen experienced one of the most touching ones. He tells his story below.

I took our cocker spaniel Leaf to one of our better city dog parks this morning. The park is over 4.7 acres with a small river, Minnehaha Creek, running through it. What a joy to see Leaf realize that he was free to run, search, and play to his heart’s content.

The park is fenced but because of its size and the forest and underbrush, no barriers are visible. It was a thrill to watch Leaf’s instincts take over. With nose to the ground he searched for any rabbit or squirrel who may have been on the trail moments ago.

I threw his ball into the river, expecting him to dive in after it with our usual game of retrieval. At home, Leaf has a toddler plastic swimming pool and he loves to play in it. He splashes in the bathtub for his baths. We walk along the lakeshore trails at other parks, and he enjoys watching the ducks. But he’s always on his leash and never goes into the water on his own.

Today, I watched Leaf hesitate at chasing the ball bobbing in the river creek. From the expression on his face, I realized that until this point, he must have always had his four feet planted solidly on the ground. A piece of his history was coming to life before my eyes — Leaf had never been swimming!

Not realizing that this would be Leaf’s first time actually doing a doggie paddle, I had thrown his ball far out in the water. It would have been just above knee level for me if I had walked to where the ball landed. From Leaf’s perspective this ball must have looked far away and unreachable.

I watched him walk from the shore until he sensed that it would be dangerous to go farther. He stopped. He looked at me. He looked back at the ball. This was his precious ball that meant fun and playtime. We brought this ball to all our outings, to other dog parks, and even threw it in the house occasionally.

I spoke softly to Leaf. “You are brave. Trust your instincts. Go get your ball.” I knew I would rush in and get him if there was a problem.

Being adopted from the shelter when he was about a year old, I knew that Leaf had had to take care of himself and become a survivor. Now, he appeared to be considering the situation before him. I could tell he was questioning: Should I dive into the unknown? Should I retrieve my ball even if there might be danger? He seemed conflicted.

He watched the ball slowly move away from him, floating downstream on the river. He moved along with it, at shoulder level, in shallow water, where his feet continued to touch firm ground.

Then he made his decision. He moved forward. When his feet were no longer on the ground, he instinctively began doing the doggy paddle. He grabbed his ball and swam back to the sandy beach.

I was so proud of him and praised him with gusto. Leaf had trusted. He had taken a risk. He had found freedom. He had discovered a talent he didn’t know he possessed. What could be better than this — for dogs or for humans?

See photographs of Leaf watching the ball, making his decision, and swimming for the first time at www.angelanimals.net/nlimage17.html

Have you witnessed an animal discovering something new about himself or herself?

We welcome you to answer this question and the “Something to Think About” question at our blogs and forums, so everyone can see your comments. Look below for blog and forum URLs.

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Join Allen & Linda at the Minnesota State Fair

What? Interview with Sage Lewis, The Creature Teacher! on her radio show The Pet Playground

When? Sunday, August 30, 2009, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time

Where? AM950 KTNF Booth at the Minnesota State Fair

Why? To discuss their new book, Horses with a Mission: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service

How can I participate? Stop by the booth. Sage will give away a free book. Call in the listener line at 952-946-6205.

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We hope you’ll consider pre-ordering HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service (New World Library, September 1, 2009). It’s available, autographed, at Angel Animals Online Bookstore, www.shop.angelanimals.net, Amazon.com (http://is.gd/2idLM), Barnes & Noble (http://is.gd/2iHQy), Borders Books & Music (http://is.gd/2iHWO), New World Library (http://is.gd/2iI1P) and other online and independent bookstores.

“With hearts and minds open, we can learn from the wild and domesticated horses in this wonderful book.”
–Joe Camp, author of THE SOUL OF A HORSE and creator of the films starring the canine superstar Benji

Go to www.horseswithamission.com to read excerpts of the book, see video clips of stories, and join in the fun of launching this exciting new book.

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Don’t forget to enter the Dogs and the Women Who Love Them True Story Contest described in the announcement below. We’re looking forward to reading your stories. CONTEST DEADLINE – SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 – IS FAST-APPROACHING.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

Bird and Horse Talk

Sparkle and Sunshine

Sparkle and Sunshine

One of our most beloved pet family members is our bright yellow cockatiel Sunshine. He’s an old-timer who has far outlived the expectancy for this breed of bird. But life has been good, and Sunshine has enjoyed it to the fullest.

Each morning, when we take the cover off his cage, Sunshine shows us his wings. We admire them, and he flaps them like a body-builder showing off his muscles.

We take him out of his cage, and he uses our fingers as a launching pad for a flight to the mantle. There he takes his morning stroll and looks out the adjacent window. He asks, “Are you my sweet baby?” Of course, we respond, “Yes.” Then he says, “I love you, sweet baby.” And we say, “We love you, too.”

He takes a morning bath in a shallow dish with warm water. He has a chat with the outside birds, retuning their whistles and song. Linda often creates a melody for him. He listens carefully and later in the day, will often repeat it with variations he has composed. Or he initiates the songwriting session by whistling a tune that Linda imitates.

We adopted Sunshine with a gray cockatiel Sparkle. Sunshine adored Sparkle. She groomed his feathers and took good care of him for many years. Sweet Sparkle wasn’t as hardy as her more cantankerous mate. One night, after a prolonged illness, Sparkle passed away. Sunshine stood vigil over her, walking round and round her body, wailing (crying) over his loss.

After Sparkle left this physical world, Sunshine would stand on the mantel alone and follow a movement in the air. It was similar to the trajectory Sparkle used to have when she flew around the living room. We suspect that spiritually the part of Sparkle that did not die, the soul, came to visit and comfort Sunshine. After a couple of years he stopped seeing what only he could see.

wesleytheowl

Recently we read a book about a special bird. We enjoyed tremendously WESLEY THE OWL: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien (Free Press, 2008). It tells about the journey of a rescued barn owl as he and biologist Stacey O’Brien forged a most unusual and satisfying relationship.

Stacey writes, “One evening I was lying down and rubbing him [Wesley] under his wings. Wesley pushed with his feet so that he was lying on my chest with his head up under my chin, his beak sleepily nibbling my throat. Then he rustled a bit and slowly began to open both delicate golden wings, stretching them as far as they would go and laying them across my shoulders. He slept that way for a long time and I stayed awake in awe.

“It was an owl hug. I hoped he would do it again. He did, and this vulnerable position became his new way of cuddling. I never got over the wonder of it and I often felt tears stinging my eyes. This complicated wild soul had stretched his golden wings over me in complete trust. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world. Not for anything in the world.”

Don’t you just love books that make reinforce what you already know — animals are the most gracious of friends?

horseswithmissionWe’d like to share with you a touching moment we just had this week. In our mailbox we found the first author copies from the publication of our new horse book. The stories in this new book take our breath away with their sincerity and strange beauty.

We hope you’ll consider pre-ordering HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service (New World Library, September 1, 2009). It’s available at Amazon.com (http://is.gd/2idLM), Barnes & Noble (http://is.gd/2iHQy), Borders Books & Music (http://is.gd/2iHWO), New World Library (http://is.gd/2iI1P) and other online and independent bookstores.

“With hearts and minds open, we can learn from the wild and domesticated horses in this wonderful book.”
–Joe Camp, author of THE SOUL OF A HORSE and creator of the films starring the canine superstar Benji

“This collection of stories will remind anyone who has ever had a horse as a best friend, confidante, and soul mate of what a special gift that can be.”
–Carson Kressley, Emmy Award-winning TV host, designer, and author of OFF THE CUFF

“You don’t need to be an avid equestrian like me to truly enjoy this book, as the stories resonate with a spirit of hope and harmony that is shared by all creatures great and small.”
–Alison Eastwood, actress, director, and producer

“The spiritual and physical bond between horses and the humans who love them often reaches mystical proportions. Nothing celebrates that very special relationship more movingly or with greater clarity than HORSES WITH A MISSION.”
–Steven D. Price, editor of THE WHOLE HORSE CATALOG

“Through their courage, sensitivity, and kindness, the horses in this book become our inspiration and guides.”
–Michael Mountain, former president of Best Friends Animal Society

“This important book will spark your imagination and inspire you to embrace the magical moments in life that happen every single day. This book is a joy to read.”
–Melanie Sue Bowles, author of HOOF PRINTS and founder of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

How Do Pets Handle Your Traveling?

In our household Allen travels as much as a week or two at a time for his day job. Each pet handles Allen’s absence differently.

The cats, Cuddles and Speedy, pretty much ignore the fact that Allen is not around. Linda doesn’t notice any change in their behavior. They do tend to jump in and out of the suitcases while he’s packing, but this seems to be more of a game than a statement about what will soon occur.

When Allen returns, Cuddles is the first to rush to greet him. She’s overwhelmed by the dog but eventually breaks through the chaos to receive her pat on the head.

Speedy takes his time acknowledging Allen’s return. He’s an older guy who has seen it all and isn’t impressed with human comings and goings.

Our yellow cockatiel Sunshine screeches at the top of his lungs to herald Allen’s arrival. No easing back into the homefront with Sunshine around. He notices and remarks on everything.

Leaf, our cocker spaniel, is most affected by Allen’s leaving and returning. While Allen packs, Leaf becomes nervous as the suitcases fill up.

We take Leaf with us to the airport so he can see Allen leave and associate this, we hope, with his coming home again. As Linda drives away from the departure area, Leaf gives her a look that seems to ask, “Why did you let him go away?” Then his head slumps and he sleeps on the ride home.

During the week Leaf mopes a bit, so Linda takes him to doggie daycare for a few hours to play with his friends. He definitely sleeps more while Allen is gone, probably feeling somewhat depressed at not having his constant companion nearby. He spends time with Linda, but she’s incredibly boring compared to Allen. Leaf adores male energy and bonding.

The most fun, of course, is watching Leaf gyrate after he recognizes Allen at the door. First, he barks at the “intruder” with a fierceness that communicates, “I mean business. Get out of my house.” Then he hears Allen’s voice, and it registers: He’s home! Life is worth living again!

Leaf wags his tail with such enthusiasm that we are grateful it remains attached to his body. He rolls over to have his tummy rubbed.

After his initial joy and excitement Leaf does a very odd thing. He rushes over to Linda and with great care and an expression of gratitude in his eyes, he showers her with wet doggy kisses. This goes on for much longer than usual. It’s studious, deliberate. The message we receive during this ritual is: “Thank you for bringing him back home.”

Somehow, Leaf has associated Linda’s taking Allen to the airport (making/letting him leave) with the assumption that she’s now responsible and needs to be thanked for his return home.

Well, she’ll take those doggy kisses any way she can get them. All is right with the world, as Leaf’s pack is brought back together.

What do your pets do when you leave and return home?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

A NEW contest will gather true stories that demonstrate the extraordinary nature of relationships between women and dogs.

A BizRate research study found that over half of the women surveyed believed their pets are more affectionate and cuter than their partners. A new contest will gather true stories that demonstrate the extraordinary nature of relationships between women and dogs.

We’ve all seen them – those tiny women tugging on a leash attached to a big, burly dog or the ladies who carry their little pooches everywhere.

What’s the big attraction between women and canine companions? Allen and Linda Anderson, best-selling Angel Animals series authors, plan to spend six months sponsoring a contest to gather true stories of dogs and the women who love them. Linda Anderson says, “We’re looking for experiences women have that show the benefits of finding unconditional love, acceptance, and fulfillment with dogs. Women and dog teams often become outstanding partners, giving service in extraordinary ways. We want to find their stories for possible publication in our next book.” Full description, rules, prizes, and entry form for this free contest are at www.angelanimals.net/contests.html

The contest the Andersons are sponsoring is designed to find life stories of remarkable women who are fulfilling their purpose in life with the help of dogs. From dogs as protectors to partners in the dance of life the winning stories will honor a relationship that is like no other.

Any contest entries, but especially those of the winners, will be considered for possible publication in the new book Dogs and the Women Who Love Them by Allen and Linda Anderson to be published by New World Library in Fall 2010. Previous books in the Angel Animals series have included many stories that were contest entries.

The Andersons suggest considering the following questions and entering the contest by writing about profound experiences:

• Has a dog been there for a woman during challenging times or major events in her life?

• Have there been times when a dog has protected people or warned them of possible danger? Has a dog performed an act of compassion, protection, healing, or heroic courage?

• Have a woman and a dog teamed up to fulfill a life purpose and/or perform acts of service?

• Did a dog lead awoman to finding her purpose in life? Has a dog taken on the mission of giving service?

• Has a dog brought people a message of love, acceptance, gratitude, or inner direction?

• Has a relationship with a dog been a catalyst for physical, emotional, or spiritual healing?

• Has it been apparent that a dog was meant to be in a woman’s life at a certain time for a special purpose?

• Has the example of a dog caused a woman to become a better friend, spouse, parent, or family member?

• Are there examples dogs have shown for how to handle life’s challenges, deal with change, heal, trust, or creatively solve problems?

• How has a dog’s ability to live in the now helped a woman or others become present to their own life?

• Has a dog been a mirror to a woman’s life, health, or attitudes by reflecting them back to her in some way?

• What have dogs taught a woman about death, dying, grieving, and the afterlife?

Allen and Linda Anderson are a husband and wife writing team, founders of the Angel Animals Network, and inspirational speakers (www.angelanimals.net). They are authors of the popular anthology series that includes Angel Dogs with a Mission (New World Library 2008) and Angel Dogs: Divine Messengers of Love (New World Library, 2006).

They founded the Angel Animals Network to use the positive power of story for the benefit of people and animals. They donate a portion of their book revenues to support animal shelters. Their work has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and on ABC’s Peter Jennings Nightly News. They have been the subject of numerous national magazine and wire service articles and have been interviewed for London newspapers and BBC Radio. They write Reader Blogs for the online Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Houston Chronicle and host the Angel Pets Fan Club at Beliefnet.com.

Press Kit for Allen and Linda Anderson and Angel Animals Network at www.angelanimals.net/media.html and more information about the contest at www.dogsandthewomenwholovethem.com

What are favorite animal books you are reading now?

What Angel Animals Is Reading

Being authors of animal books, we are always fascinated by what others are writing on the subject. Below are some of the books we are reading and enjoying. Perhaps they will find their way to your bookshelf too.

THE INNER WORLD OF FARM ANIMALS: Their Amazing Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Capacities by Amy Hatkoff (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009, hardcover, $19.95, 176 pages, color photos) with a foreword by Jane Goodall and afterword by Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States

The jacket for this informative, entertaining, and eye-opening book says, “Chickens can count. Pigs are smarter than poodles. Cows form close friendships. Turkeys know one another by their voices, and sheep recognize faces — of other sheep, and of people. Far from lacking thoughts and feelings, barnyard creatures demonstrate sophisticated problem-solving abilities, possess rich social lives, and feel a wide range of emotions.”

Getting to know farm animals in such an intimate way as they are presented in this book offers a perfect opportunity to love them as individuals. One of our favorite stories is “Hope and Johnny: Loyal and Loving.” It’s about two pigs from Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California. They were such loyal friends that when Hope’s leg was injured and she could no longer walk, Johnny kept other pigs from bothering her when she ate. Johnny stayed by Hope’s side day and night. After Hope died of old age, Johnny, although younger and healthier, died several weeks later, presumably of a broken heart.

Because of all the time and effort we put into writing our award-winning book RESCUED: Saving Animals from Disaster, we are always interested in good books about animal rescue. MOORE TAILS: Rescuing Mutts in the South: An Intimate Portrait of Animal Rescue & Cruelty by Maureen Burke-Horansky (2009, Ink Stain Publishing Corp., $15.00, 286 pages, color photos, authormaggie@pinehurst.net) is a unique entry in this genre.

This book shares the true story of five passionate women who managed to get a local North Carolina county animal facility to allow adoptions. The women fight animal cruelty and attempt to lower the kill rate in the facility. They are creative, courageous, and persistent.

Jane Goodall writes in a letter at the end of this book about the organization the women founded, Animal Advocates of Moore County, Inc. in Pinehurst, North Carolina. “Eight women in the village of Pinehurst learned of the euthanasia crisis from articles in the local newspaper. They met to form an organization of animal lovers, choosing to take action to resolve this grim situation. They began trapping feral cats, spaying and neutering them, inoculating them against disease. Then they offered a no-cost spay-neuter program for low-income residents. . .I support what they have achieved and urge you to support them in any way you can.”

Another animal rescue book that caught our attention is GREYHOUND TALES: True Stories of Rescue, Compassion, & Love, ed. By Nora Star, Inception by Kari Mastrocola, Introduction by Susan Netboy (1997, Lost Coast Press, Order: Nora Star, 9728 Tenaya Way, Kelseyville, CA 95451 or http://www.cypresshouse.com, $15.95, 116 pages, color photos).

This anthology of stories from wonderful people who rescue and adopt greyhounds offers insight into the once multi-billion-dollar greyhound racing industry and its tragic consequences for the six-thousand-year-old greyhound breed. It includes information on how to determine if adopting a greyhound is right for you and how to join the National Greyhound Adoption Network and subscribe to the GREYHOUND NETWORK NEWS quarterly newsletter.

On the back cover Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason, author of THE EMOTIONAL LIVES OF ANIMALS writes, “The people who tell their stories in this book show sympathy and compassion for these marvelous animals who are themselves so filled with sympathy and compassion for us, even though humans have proved to be such untrue friends. Somehow these dogs still love and trust us after all our degradation and betrayal. This in itself is a small miracle.”

What are favorite animal books you are reading now?