OVERCOMING A FEAR OF DOGS

I recently did a radio interview and got to do what I love, which is to talk about my book, New York Times bestseller A DOG NAMED LEAF. I always enjoy sharing with anyone who will listen to me talk about Leaf and how we came out of challenging times as a spiritual team. Both of us became better and more loving from our experiences together.

A Dog Named Leaf

A Dog Named Leaf

I talked about the joy and comfort a person receives by having the unconditional love of a dog and gave examples of how Leaf’s presence made my and his life better.

On the air, the host said that she had grown up in an environment where her mother taught her to fear dogs. To this day, she would be too afraid to have a dog as a pet.  She added that without knowing better, she had instilled that same fear in her son who is now 10 years old. As we chatted during the interview about the book and my experiences, the radio show host began to understand how much she and her son are missing out on, by not having a dog join their family.

I talked about how animal shelters are always looking for volunteers. Volunteering often helps people who cannot have a dog for some reason or may be concerned over the cost of adoption.

The host said that, as we talked, she had realized that it was time for her to move forward and past her deep, lifelong fears. Both she and her son were going to volunteer a couple of hours each week at their local animal shelter. They could become more accustomed to and less fearful by being around all kinds of dogs and experiencing firsthand the different characters and doggy personalities.

She added that one fine day, she might find a dog at the shelter. They would welcome the new arrival into their home with open arms.

What a satisfying interview that was for me, the host, and hopefully, for her listeners.

Have you ever had to overcome your fear of an animal?

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A New York Times bestseller, A Dog Named Leaf (ISBN-10: 0762781654, ISBN-13: 978-0762781652), a 224-page paperback published by Lyons Press/Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, is available at major online book retailers, in bookstores, and at lyonspress.com. Visit the book’s Facebook page and view photos of Leaf at http://www.adognamedleaf.com or www.facebook.com/adognamedleaf

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Book by St. Louis Park authors named a New York Times best-seller, By Seth Rowe, January 8, 2015

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Arts & Entertainment, Sun Sailor Newspapers

Book by St. Louis Park authors named a best-seller, By Seth Rowe, January 8, 2015

A St. Louis Park writing couple released a book about the animal actors of Hollywood in 2014 but a 2012 book about their own dog landed them on The New York Times Best Sellers list published in December and January.

“A Dog Named Leaf” by Allen Anderson and Linda Anderson of St. Louis Park came in at No. 20 on the newspaper’s Dec. 21 list for e-book nonfiction. The book focusing on the Andersons’ cocker spaniel appears on the same list as “Unbroken,” “Wild,” “American Sniper” and books by Bill O’Reilly, Dick Van Dyke, Tom Brokaw, Andy Cohen, Amy Poehler, Chuck Norris, Brook Shields and George W. Bush.

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

The book also landed on No. 10 under the animals category on The New York Times list for books sold throughout December. That list includes copies sold in print, as e-books and as audiobooks.

Although the Andersons have written 17 books, they said “A Dog Named Leaf” is the most personal. Subtitled “The Hero from Heaven Who Saved My Life,” the book describes how Leaf, a rescue dog from the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, helped provide support for Allen after he learned he required an operation for a brain aneurysm.

The two wrote “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors” with American Humane Association President and CEO Robin Ganzert, who promoted the book on television shows across the country. While that book did not make The New York Times list, the Andersons said they were surprised to learn that “A Dog Named Leaf” had suddenly appeared as a best-seller.

Animal Stars

ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors

“This is impossible – something that doesn’t happen,” Allen said.

Linda added, “We had to write a letter to say does anybody know how this happened?”

They eventually learned that a company that bought the book’s publisher, Lyons Press, had begun to promote “A Dog Named Leaf” as an electronic book, or e-book.

“Two years ago we worked so hard to tell people about this book, and two years later we said, ‘Wait a minute. This is really, really nice,’” Linda said.

Allen said, “It’s been a fun ride. You go through so much and then you have something like this happen, and it’s like, oh my goodness, we won the lottery.”

Many of the popular books that have been written about dogs are by individuals who are already well-known, Linda said.

“It’s unusual we made the list because we’re not celebrities,” she said.

The publisher’s decision to market the book as a memoir likely attracted people who would not have sought out a book specifically about dogs but who are interested in reading about the lives of other people, Linda suggested.

“It brings people back to personal experiences they had, and why was that animal in my life at that time?” Linda said.

Allen had an emotional reaction when he learned about the unruptured brain aneurysm as he recalled his father’s stroke, he said. Worried about how Linda would take the news, he decided to present her with a fact sheet he compiled about aneurysms. He delivered the sheet as she sat in a rocking chair before exiting the room.

Linda responded incredulously.

“You’re saying you have an unruptured brain aneurysm and you’re going to have surgery, you could die, and you give me a memo?!” Linda recalled as her reaction to the news.

Because of the possibility he could die, Allen noted that he wrote out a “manual” with information Linda would need to know if he were no longer there, such as screen shots of how to access their online accounts.

“Part of the book is the whole relationship thing and how we got through this as a family with Leaf by my side,” Allen said.

Leaf, Allen, and Linda

Leaf, Allen and Linda

Allen and Linda Anderson’s book about their cocker spaniel, Leaf, appeared on The New York Times best-seller list in December. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe)

The book begins with Allen describing a tense situation from his years as a police officer during which a suspect pointed a gun at his head during a chase on foot. The incident took place not long after his former partner had been shot to death, and  Allen called a brief standoff alongside another officer with a history of excessive force “the longest two seconds of my life.” The man lowered his weapon and was taken into custody.

During his eight years as an officer, Allen said he escaped death or injury so many times Linda called him “Miracle Man.” Allen segues into his story of the brain aneurysm by writing, “Years later there would be another kind of weapon aimed at my head with its trigger cocked. My new situation would be as life threatening as any I’d faced while doing police work.”

The story of his diagnosis and connection with Leaf takes place under the title “The Journey of Two Souls Begins.” The book focuses on a connection between Allen and Leaf that he described as “deeper than owner and pet.”

As an emotionally troubled dog who the Andersons believe likely had experienced abuse in the past, Leaf acted out among people he did not know.

“Difficult is a kind word for it,” Linda said of their St. Louis Park groomer’s early experiences with Leaf. “She said he was just terrified.”

The only information the Animal Humane Society had posted on Leaf’s kennel was that he had been abandoned.

“It was so sad,” Linda said.

The Andersons originally hesitated to take him home, but decided to return and take a chance on Leaf.

Although the groomer later disclosed that Leaf had bitten her soon after his adoption, the groomer said he “started getting rid of the fearful devil inside that made him naughty.”

The book describes Leaf and Allen each helping each other work through their own emotions.

On their Angel Animals blog, the Andersons wrote, “Leaf was a severely traumatized dog, and Allen was at that time, a former inner city police officer who had closed down emotionally after having too often seen the worst in human nature. Trust turned out to be a big issue for both of them.”

Leaf

Leaf

Authors Allen and Linda Anderson adopted Leaf, a cocker spaniel, from the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.  (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe)

By the time Allen learned of his brain aneurysm, “Leaf and he were two comrades struggling to survive what life was throwing at them,” the blog states.

In the end, Allen wrote in the book, “I looked at Leaf and recognized him for what he is: a heroic soul from heaven in a small dog’s body.”

‘Angel Animals’

The Andersons have long promoted the idea of spiritual connections between people and animals. In the ‘90s, they created an “Angel Animals” newsletter that compiled stories people related of their experiences with animals. They obtained stories by posting fliers at stores like Cub Foods and from people in line at a St. Louis Park post office.

“By the time we’d get up to the counter, we had heard everyone’s angel animals stories,” Linda said.

When their list of newsletter subscribers exceeded 1,000, the Andersons successfully pitched their first book proposal to a major publisher then called Penguin Putnam.

They gained a big break when television personality Willard Scott commented on their book on the “Today” show on NBC. The quote that caught Scott’s attention came from the Rev. Billy Graham, whose association had been based in Minneapolis at the time. The Andersons gained permission from Graham’s association to use the quote, which read, “Heaven is the place of final and complete happiness God has prepared for us – and if animals are necessary to make us happy in heaven, then you can be sure God will have them there.”

Books by Allen and Linda Anderson

Books by Allen and Linda Anderson

 St. Louis Park residents Allen and Linda Anderson have authored 17 books, some of which have been translated into other languages like German, Japanese, and Portuguese.  (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe)

That television mention prompted sales of their original book to soar “like the stock market,” Linda said.

The authors had another brush with fame when they launched “A Dog Named Leaf.” Allen said he happened to see Garrison Keillor walking by with groceries, prompting Allen to yell a thanks to the famous author and radio personality for letting the Andersons launch their book at Common Good Books, a St. Paul book store Keillor owns. Keillor attended the launch the next night and made a joke during the following show for “A Prairie Home Companion” about people who write memoirs.

Garrison Keillor and Allen Anderson at A DOG NAMED LEAF Book Launch at Common Good Books

Garrison Keillor and Allen Anderson at A DOG NAMED LEAF Book Launch at Common Good Books

Despite such past moments, Allen said he still felt in shock about the book making The New York Times.

“To have this happen with one book, it feels real good,” Allen said.

He said he is pleased that “A Dog Named Leaf” is the one that became a best-seller.

“It’s our story – Leaf’s story,” he said.

More information about “A Dog Named Leaf” is available at adognamedleaf.com. More information about the Andersons, their other books and their blog is available at angelanimals.net.

ASJA Award for A DOG NAMED LEAF

ASJA Award for A DOG NAMED LEAF

The Andersons won an award from The American Society of Journalists and Authors in 2013 for “A Dog Named Leaf.”  (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe)

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Sun Sailor Newspapers –Contact Seth Rowe at seth.rowe@ecm-inc.com

A Note of Appreciation to Our Angel Animals Blog Readers

As we approach the Christmas holidays and New Year, we want to thank everyone who has been part of our lives in 2014. We feel deep and sincere gratitude for friends and family who have been at our sides during challenging times as well as with us to celebrate the highlights of this year.

One of the big highlights was co-authoring ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors with Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of American Human. What an exciting experience that was for us.

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors by Robin Ganzert, PhD

Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors by Robin Ganzert, PhD

The book features a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of Hollywood’s favorite animal actors. It features moving stories from Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, animal trainers, and more!

We travelled to Hollywood to meet and interview trainers who shared their personal experiences with the animal actors featured in the book. The trainers and American Humane Association’s Film & TV Unit were all very gracious and welcoming. When we visited the trainers’ and animals’ homes, ranches, and facilities, we observed that animal actors and their people showed a deep love and respect for each other in what appeared to be much more than a merely professional relationship.

Robin Ganzert

Robin Ganzert Hosting the Hero Dogs Awards

Another 2014 highlight was our visit to the ANIMAL STARS book launch party at Fox Studios in Hollywood and the American Human Association’s Hero Dogs Awards at the Los Angeles Beverly Hilton. What amazing events. Wow! As you can see in the images, we had a blast with hundreds of people and heroic animals who attended.

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

Animal Stars Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

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Animal Stars

A DOG NAMED LEAF

The New York Times Best Seller — A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF – “Didn’t see that coming!”

What if something really good happens, totally unexpected, and gives hard-working writers hope that anything is possible? Well, something did happen to us in 2014.

Our 2012 memoir A DOG NAMED LEAF about Allen and our rescued cocker spaniel facing life-threatening challenges together made it on to the December 21, 2014 New York Times Best Sellers list!

A DOG NAMED LEAF was very personal book for us to write (and live). We wondered how people would respond to its deeply spiritual experiences and themes. It was our truth, though, and we shared more of our personal lives in this book than in any other writing we have done or that has been written about us.

Linda and Leaf

Linda and Leaf

Leaf and Allen

Leaf and Allen

Leaf

Leaf

To give a glimmer of the gratitude readers of this book have expressed, below is one of the over 60 Amazon.com 4- and 5-star comments.

“My vet gave me a copy of this book. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down! I’m a groomer, and the story told about Leaf and his visits at the groomer’s always comes to mind when I am grooming a difficult dog. (I groom a lot of rescue dogs.) I have loaned my book out to many people and also recommended it to many people. When they read it, their response is always the same as mine: They couldn’t put it down either! This book would make a great gift. I’m buying a second book to donate to our next silent auction to raise money for our local rescue dogs! Hugs and smooches to Leaf!” –Pam

We appreciate Lyon’s Press/Rowman & Littlefield Publishing for the creative work and strategies they used to make it possible for a whole new set of readers to find our book.

A DOG NAMED LEAF

The New York Times Best Seller — A DOG NAMED LEAF

Thanks to those who have read A DOG NAMED LEAF. We love it when you share your thoughts and reactions to the book in emails, social media posts, and customer reviews at online booksellers.

HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY and A HAPPY 2015 NEW YEAR.

–Allen and Linda

Finder with Allen and Linda Anderson

Finder with Allen and Linda Anderson

A DOG NAMED LEAF is now on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

A DOG NAMED LEAF is now on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Amazing! We’re excited. Our agent says once you make this prestigious list, you are forever entitled to call yourself a “New York Times Bestselling Author.” What a thrill after all these years of writing so many animal books (17 and several published in multiple languages).

We hope you will love our very personal book about Allen and our rescued cocker spaniel Leaf. Like comrades facing the ultimate battle, this man and this dog came together at exactly the right time for miracles to happen.

http://amzn.to/1wiFKcQ and at other online and retail bookstores.

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF IN A TREE

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

LEAF IN A TREE

“Oh, my God! There’s a dog in the tree!” one of three teenage girls yelled with disbelief, as the trio walked past us. When they saw the dog, the other two teens called almost in unison, “Oh, my God!” as they all gawked upward.

Our cocker spaniel Leaf and we were at our regular Saturday morning spot, sitting on the soft white sand, viewing the great Mississippi river as it slowly flowed past. This was our quiet time to reflect on our week and what lay ahead.

Our Saturday spot is in the middle of 12 acres of a heavily wooded forest with many walking trails–all existing for dogs. It has an official name, but we call it DOG PARK HEAVEN, the BEST dog park ever.

Near where we always sit on the beach, a large fallen oak tree with ample branches thrusts toward the river. The incline is low enough that Leaf feels comfortable climbing upward, high onto its limb. Upon reaching his destination, he lies down on the thick branch. Then he places his most precious procession, an orange bouncy ball, between his two front paws. With the ball in its proper place, he relaxes and observes all the activities beneath him. This is HIS spot where no dog or human can reach him.

As the people and their canines strolled down the beach one Saturday, some, like the teenagers, noticed Leaf. Most of the time people made their statement about the dog in the tree in a monotone voice as if trying to be cool about such a strange sight. It was as if they were saying, “The tree has leaves.”

Some asked, “Is that your dog?” Linda replied, “Yes, he likes heights. He must have been a cat in a previous life.”

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

With those additional details each person continued to stare at Leaf as he or she slowly approached the tree. With a slight moment of hesitation, they continued walking under the branch while Leaf looked down at them, probably thinking, “They won’t get my ball.”

A few times, passing dogs would also look skyward and see Leaf. Some glared at him when they realized he was not a squirrel. The big dogs looked horrified that a smaller dog would dare be higher than they. “It’s just not natural,” they seemed to be thinking. Other dogs noticed that Leaf had something between his paws. Could it be a ball?

With perfect timing, suddenly and with purpose, Leaf repeatedly showed the dogs that he, in fact, had his own ball. “See! Look at me! Mine!” While he actively chomped on his ball, no canine considered taking the challenge of climbing high to swipe it.

Maybe people were double-checking to make sure what they saw was real and could now be part of their expanded worldview of what dogs do. Maybe the dogs looked back at Leaf to ponder a day when they might get the ball Leaf guarded. After all, it was as if he was mocking them by proudly displaying his prize.

As it turns out, Leaf had a plan of action outside of teasing the dogs below him with a ball they could never capture. He wanted to show off how macho he was or maybe display his intelligence. Using advanced strategic planning, he carefully evaluated potential foes. With amazing timing he threw his ball downward to the beach as his chosen mark approached.

Leaf chose dogs who were totally unaware of his presence above them. With delight and ecstasy, the dogs couldn’t believe their good luck. A ball had dropped from the sky, a gift from the heavens, a toy to enjoy. This was truly DOG PARK HEAVEN!

At the chosen one’s moment of greatest gratitude and vulnerability, Leaf swooped down from his high perch, also appearing to have fallen from the sky. Eye-to-eye with the chosen canine, he quickly chomped on the orange ball and ran with it back up the tree. There, he safely watched the dog’s disappointment and bewilderment that the unexpected gift had been taken away only seconds after being offered.

As we relaxed at our spot on the beach, watching The Leaf Show, dogs slowly walked over to us to say hello. We gentle caressed their heads or ears and told each of our visitors how beautiful he or she was.

This game Leaf played with unsuspecting dogs continued for weeks until one Saturday when we all experienced a profound change. As usual, Leaf displayed his total joy in being back at Dog Park Heaven. We slowly walked down the long winding trail to the Mississippi river and found our regular spot. While we sat in the soft cool sand, Leaf climbed his tree, holding his orange ball in his mouth and rooting himself into his high spot. All was right with the world.

Soon after we relaxed, one dog, then two, then four rushed over to scale Leaf’s exclusive tree branch. Word had gotten out. Was this a dog version of text messaging or inner social media, ending up with a flash mob? Leaf’s personal domain now had uninvited visitors. Big dogs, small dogs, wet and dirty dogs of all sizes formed packs and were invading HIS tree. Tensely he gripped the ball in his mouth, guarding it against those who dared occupy his branch of safety and personal refuge.

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

Consciousness had expanded. The traditional dog park with noses sniffing close to ground had vanished. Traditional canine experience was no longer limited. Humans were delighted and amazed that their dogs could now go high. With nervous laughter they said things such as, “Look at her! I didn’t know she could do that!” Placing limitations on their companions was no longer as easy as previously.

Leaf too had to become accustomed to a new dog park reality. Observing the world from above can be fun but his high spot was no longer unreachable. As a result, he began coming down to earth more often to mix it up, play with other dogs, and have us throw his ball to chase and retrieve.

What did the three of us learn?

Sometimes life breaks through seemingly unbreakable boundaries we have place upon ourselves — fixed notions of what individuals are capable of doing and being. Yet neither dog-made nor man-created limitations are absolute.

What have the animals in your life taught you about possibilities?

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

Visit <http://www.angelanimals.net/nlimage118.html&gt; to view Leaf in a tree.

A Dog Named Leaf

A Dog Named Leaf

A Dog Named Leaf

“Leaf keeps his secrets to himself, so I don’t know exactly why he does things such as what he did for the grieving child. My 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 where he’s most needed.”
–Allen Anderson, “A Dog Named Leaf Knows Where the Ow-ees Are,” ANIMALS AND THE KIDS WHO LOVE THEM, page 165

To subscribe to Angel Animals Story of the Week, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

Allen and Leaf

Allen and Leaf

Animal Tracks — Exotic Wildlife Rescue

We visited this wonderful exotic animal rescue non-profit organization in Southern California. They do terrific work. Here’s more about “Animal Tracks”.

https://api.indiegogo.com/projects/animal-tracks-exotic-animal-nonprofit

Allen at Animal Tracks

Allen hugs a baboon at nonprofit Animal Tracks exotic rescue.

Nonprofit Animal Tracks

Linda pets a sweet baboon at Animal Tracks exotic animal rescue