An Author’s Dream Book Launch Party

Allen and Linda Anderson

Allen and Linda Anderson

The #AnimalStars book launch was a grand event. We were amazed and very happy to see all the excitement and love for the book and for American Humane Association. The book party was at Fox Studios in Los Angeles in the ballroom.

Leading up to the ballroom was the red carpet, backdrops with ANIMAL STARS book cover images, and massive posters lining the red carpet on the other side of the entrance aisle. Hundreds of well-wishers attended. At one point, when our coauthor Dr. Robin Ganzert asked, “And what’s the name of this book?” everyone sang in unison, “ANIMAL STARS!”

ANIMAL STARS -- Book Launch Party

ANIMAL STARS — Book Launch Party


Animal Stars

Animal Stars

The party included food, drink, and lots of laughter. Many of the book’s contributing authors/trainers attended with their animal stars who were featured in the book. People were getting photos and videos of themselves with the famous animal actors. Crystal, the capuchin monkey star of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM and WE BOUGHT A ZOO was a full participant in the celebrations. She graced us by sitting on our shoulders and grooming our hair. What an actress!

Celebrities James Denten (Mike the Plumber on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) and Animal Planet host and author Victoria Stilwell were enjoying the party as well as a young man from television that the teenagers all knew and adored.

Animal Stars Director's Chair

Animal Stars Director’s Chair

We were thrilled to meet Dr. Marty Becker, official veterinarian for GOOD MORNING AMERICA and the DR. OZ SHOW. He wrote the foreword for our first ANGEL ANIMALS book and for this book. Such a nice man. Our publicist for all these years, Monique Muhlenkamp was also at the party representing our publisher New World Library.

Allen and Linda Anderson with their Friends at the Animal Stars Book Launch Party

Allen and Linda Anderson with their Friends at the Animal Stars Book Launch Party

Margo, Linda, and Arlene

Margo, Linda, and Arlene

It was an author’s dream book launch party. And we are grateful to have had the opportunity of meeting people who sent the book off with a good start. Many came up and told us they have been reading and loving our books for years. What a treat! Who knew?

Linda, Crystal, & Allen

Linda, Crystal, & Allen

Robin Ganzert and Friends

Robin Ganzert and Friends

A Bear, a Deer, and Rescued Creatures Form a Family of Animal Stars

We have seen images of bears curiously peeking into cars and rummaging through trash cans, looking for food. But the concept of a bear and a man forming an enduring team that opened the hearts of everyone who met and worked with them never entered our minds.

Not until we had the privilege of meeting one half of an amazing bear-human partnership. Nick (Nicholas) Toth is the second-generation owner of Cougar Hill Ranch and trainer of Casey, one of the most famous and versatile bears in the world. Casey performed in numerous movies and commercials but is universally known as Baloo, the Bear, in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story.

Casey lives on in his screen roles, including as the Tolstoy-reading bear in Because of Winn-Dixie. He also lives on in story after story that Nick and his aunt Helena Walsh tell about meeting, training, and working and traveling with the personality-plus bear they raised from the time he was a cub. Nick wrote about his complex and satisfying relationship in a story titled, “Casey as Baloo the Bear in the Jungle Book Movies: Where’s the Closest KFC?” His story is one of thirty in the book we co-wrote with Robin Ganzert, PhD, president and CEO of American Humane Association.

Helena and Casey

Helena and Casey

For Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors, we did extensive research which included meeting the celebrity animals who star in film and television and interviewing their world-class trainers. We wanted to find out how Nick helped to transform a massive bear into such a lovable personality captured on camera. And what was this talented and enchanting big bear like off-camera?

On a hot and arid mid-July day we drove through desert landscape out of Los Angeles down dusty country roads to Cougar Hill Ranch. As we chatted about the upcoming visit, we didn’t realize that we were in for a delightful treat. A long, winding gravel road led to a place where we parked our rental car. We got out to take a closer look at a clean and organized facility. About a half-dozen buildings, large fenced-in sections, and abundant shade trees housed a variety of animals. The pleasant environment had the feel of a family setting; not strictly a business facility.

We walked toward the Cougar Ranch main office just as Nick Toth, a bear of a man himself, came out the door. He smiled a friendly, welcoming greeting and escorted us to his office, a couple of adjoining rooms with a door that opened directly to the grounds. Similar to ours at home in Minnesota, this was definitely the working office of a busy person. Piles of papers and photos, file folders, and storage boxes were neatly stacked around the rooms. A large fan whirred, keeping us cool in spite of the dry heat.

Casey on a Movie Set

Casey on a Movie Set

Nick sat on a chair near a large wooden desk and indicated that we should make ourselves comfortable on a sofa covered with a colorful print cloth. We had entered “Command Central” where Nick and his family made important decisions about calls for the services of their well-trained and cared-for working animal stars.

Nick was soon joined by his Aunt Helena. In the way two people, who have grown up together, converse, Nick and Helena finished each other’s sentences and remembered details the other had forgotten to mention. After we set up our miniature recorder and began to take notes, Nick and Helena told us about the family’s rich, long Hollywood history. Nick’s father, George Toth, was a refugee to America from Hungary after that country’s uprising against Russian rule in 1956.

An expert falconer and dog trainer, after moving his family to California, George went to work for Disney Studios. In 1970 he purchased Cougar Hill Ranch and turned it into a family business. While other children went home to play and watch afternoon television programs, after school each day Nick and his sister Elizabeth cleaned cages, fed the animals, and trained them to perform in movies. “My ability to choose and train animals for films, television, and commercials came from having literally grown up with them. Our whole family was involved in this business,” Nick said.

After Nick and Helena talked about family history, they warmed up to their favorite topic—Casey. They regaled us with one anecdote after another about Casey’s first job when he was five months old to filming Back to the Future. While attending the movie’s cast party, Casey discovered what would become an essential for every job. Nick recalled, “Somebody brought a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and gave him a piece. He lit up as if saying, ‘This is the best thing on earth!’” From that point on, in addition to Casey’s daily five-gallon buckets of lettuce, apples, peaches, oranges, berries, melons, breads, carrots, the Toths’ homemade dog food, and kibble, Casey demanded cut-up pieces of KFC fried chicken as his go-to reward for tasks well done.

According to Helena, “No other fried chicken satisfied him.” No matter where they were working, the movie’s crew had to drive to the closest KFC each day to bring back Casey’s Colonel Sanders’ Original Recipe. “He could tell the difference and refused any substitute.”

Over the years, Nick and Casey developed a relationship like no other between a bear a man. Nick would scratch Casey’s feet, play ball with the bear, and then Casey would knock Nick down when he’d had enough pampering. Still, Nick and his family of professional animal trainers never forgot that despite Casey’s endearing qualities, the bear was fast, smart, and could be extremely aggressive. They always watched for signs that Casey needed to rest. “He is thinking evil,” Nick would observe. And the Toths would scoot Casey off set to the bear’s private trailer for a break.

Nick, Helena and Hollyberry

Nick, Helena and Hollyberry

We spent a couple of hours learning about Nick and Casey’s many years working together until Casey’s retirement and eventual passing. After the emotions rose to the surface while Nick and Helena remembered remarkable career, it was a quiet and sweet relief to go outside for a tour of their facility.

Helena brought out another of the family’s most cherished members – Hollyberry, a rescued deer. California Fish and Wildlife often bring wild or exotic animals for rehabilitation at Cougar Hill Ranch. Hollyberry was a day-old doe a warden had found near the highway. Only palm-sized, she had been born prematurely and left to die. Nick and his family raised the baby into a small but healthy deer.

Because Hollyberry was so frail and tiny, the Toths had to keep her in their home. Usually they would attempt to return a rescued wild animal to a natural habitat, but this baby needed so much nurturing that she bonded with the family.

While Helena fed Hollyberry apple slices, she and Nick talked about the deer’s powerful trust in them. As it turns out, Holly is so calm that she’s often seen in commercials in which a car looks as if it’s about to hit a deer. In carefully orchestrated scenes in which American Humane Association’s certified animal safety representatives partner with Nick to make sure Holly (or no other animal) ever gets hurt, a car appears to be hurtling toward Holly, placing the deer in danger.

Nick says, “She stands still while the car approaches, with absolute certainty and trust that we will make sure she does not get hit.” She does her job so well that producers and directors remember and ask for her by name when they are filming such a scene. Holly even has her own animatronic double who fills in for her so she never has to do anything that might be dangerous.

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

As with the other world-class trainers who contributed stories to Animal Stars, we asked Nick for secret training tips. He talked to us about his advice for transporting animals over long distances with some great tips on page 59 of the book. But he added something very touching that seemed to sum up this gentle family’s way of viewing their relationships with the animals. Nick says, “My mom had a habit of blessing our truck with holy water and saying a prayer with us before we left the ranch for our trips to work locations. My mom and Helena always said very long blessings. When I do them now, they are much shorter: ‘Take us there. Bring us back. Amen.’”

Bring us back, Nick. We’d love to visit Cougar Hill Ranch again!

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”.

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

A Dog Named Leaf — Book Events and Speaking Engagements

A DOG NAMED LEAF -- Strange, Mysterious, Wonderful

A DOG NAMED LEAF — Strange, Mysterious, Wonderful

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 10:30 – 11:30 AM.
Allen Anderson is featured speaker; Carolyn Walsh is featured
singer/musician. This is not a book event but is a nondenominational
gathering and meeting for spiritually minded people.
4401 Upton Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
PH: 612-922-4272

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 6:00 – 8:00 P.M.
Book Signing
1 East Towne Mall
Madison, WI 53704
PH: 608-241-4695

Book Presentation
20600 North Rand Road
Deer Park, IL 60010
PH: 847-438-7444

Saturday, December 1, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
A Dog Named Leaf — Meet the Author
Meet and Greet / Book Signing
Valley Bookseller
217 North Main St.
Stillwater, MN 55082
Phone – 651-430-3385

Saturday, February 2nd, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
A Dog Named Leaf — Meet the Author
Meet and Greet / Book Signing
Barnes and Noble
HarMar Mall
2100 North Snelling Ave
Roseville, MN 55113

Saturday, February 23rd, 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
A Dog Named Leaf Presentation with Allen Anderson
Owatonna Community Education
Roosevelt School
122 E McKinley St.
Owatonna, MN 55060
PH: 507-444-7921
Celebrating Life and Learning

Do you know animals who gave comfort after September 11?


On this 10th anniversary of one of the saddest days in American (and world) history, people need the comfort of animals more than ever. Animals remind them that goodness, kindness, and love still exist.

In the aftermath of the events on September 11, 2001, there was a tremendous increase in adoptions from the New York area animal shelters. Grieving and frightened people sought the solace that can only be found in the paws and wings of animal companions.

Roselle, a yellow Labrador guide dog, who was a little over three years old, showed tremendous grace under fire. She led her blind charge, Mike Hingson down 78 floors of the New York World Trade Center. For one-half hour Roselle guided Mike and a group of employees to the ground floor and then to running out of the south tower as it collapsed behind them. Hingson is reported as saying, “She [Roselle] never hesitated. She never panicked.”

Search and rescue and bomb-sniffing dogs rummaged through the rubble and alerted their handlers in an attempt to save as many lives as possible. These dogs worked until their paws became bloody, and veterinarians on the site administered first aid.

One of the dogs succumbed to smoke inhalation. Firefighters carried this hero out of the ruins on a stretcher and hurried him in an ambulance to an animal hospital. There, he was treated, released, and readily returned to work.

Do you know animals who gave comfort after September 11?

You can post your answers at our Angel Animals Facebook page: and “Like” Angel Animals while you’re there.



“The realities of nature surpass our most ambitious dreams.”
–Francois Rodin

“We can observe the working of Divine Spirit in the habits of birds, the cycles of plants, and the instincts of reptiles and mammals. . . All sing the glory of God; all teach the secrets of life.”
–Harold Klemp, Animals Are Soul Too!, p. ix

“Animals love. They love their being. They strive to survive, to celebrate, to propagate. So certainly something we learn from animals is love. To be the best we can be — the right to be here and the responsibility to be the best dog or bear or horse that they can be. Humans have the tendency to self-pity that other animals don’t indulge in.”
–Matthew Fox

“Let us gather up the sunbeams
Lying all around our path;
Let us keep the wheat and roses,
Casting out the thorns and chaff;
Let us find our sweetest comfort
In the blessings of today,
With a patient hand removing
All the briars from the way.”
–Mary Riley Smith, “If We Knew”
“When will public opinion no longer sanction popular entertainment  which consists in the mistreatment of animals?”
–Albert Schweitzer, Lieben, pp. 202-03

“It may be that the most profound benefit of having a pet is that we come to understand better the experience of death, and, perhaps, lose some of our fear of it in the process. . . death, our pets teach us, is necessary for new life to appear. Both for our pets and, eventually, for us, too.”
–Martin Goldstein, D.V.M., THE NATURE OF ANIMAL HEALING, p. 317

“You are not making the change because you are a bad person and you are doing it wrong. You make changes because you love yourself and you want to improve the quality of your life.”
–Louise Hay

“Some people [and animals] come into our lives quickly and go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints [paw prints] on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”
–Author Unknown

“The purpose of this world is not ‘to have and to hold’ but ‘to give and to serve.’ There can be no other meaning.”
–Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell

“Cats do not declare their love much, they enact it, by their myriad invocations of our pleasure.”
–Vicki Hearne


Allen and Linda Anderson

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ORPHANS OF KATRINA, Book Review by Allen & Linda Anderson, Angel Animals Network

As we are nearing the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005 and the city’s levees breaking on August 30, a new book takes us back to the largest animal rescue operation in history. ORPHANS OF KATRINA by Karen O’Toole is a remarkable account of the author’s experiences while spending four months volunteering as an animal rescuer. She also served for several subsequent months by helping evacuees find lost pets.

Karen writes, “No one asked what it felt like to walk through vast suburbs, thick with homes, yet never find another person, never see a car move, never hear a bird chirp. No one asked what it was like to sleep on the toxic hot pavement of a parking lot with armed military guards all around so that you wouldn’t be killed at night. And most importantly, no one asked what it was like to live in a city full of entombed, dying pets unseen in the houses and apartments surrounding you. It was a citywide guessing game and we were losing. What was it like? What was it really like? No one asked.”

Karen has answered all those questions and many more with a book that has the pace and drama of a thriller. It chronicles in gripping narrative and through compelling photos the highs and lows of her gritty experiences. It truly is a book that every animal lover will want to read.

For our book, RESCUED: SAVING ANIMALS FROM DISASTER, we interviewed Karen and hundreds of others who searched for animals and reunited them with their families. We were able to touch upon many aspects of the animal rescue operation that was marked by chaos and passion. People who went to serve on the Gulf Coast told us that by reading our book they learned things about what was going on in other parts of the disaster area that they hadn’t heard while working down there.

Karen’s book, however, goes into great depth about the experiences of these animal rescue heroes. It takes readers on an unforgettable journey of a lifetime. Karen is an excellent, award-winning writer. Her book will keep you turning the pages.

We applaud Karen for telling and sharing these stories of animal rescue. Books like this make it less likely that animals will ever be left behind again. ORPHANS OF KATRINA deserves to be read widely. It will help to bring about changes in policy and practice. The book compellingly illustrates that it is imperative for human and animal families to be kept together through disasters and emergencies.

Visit for more about ORPHANS OF KATRINA.


We don’t publish every request for helping animals that we receive. We know that as an animal lover on the Internet, you are receiving e-mails everyday. But we want you to know about the efforts of our friend Jeff Dorson, executive director of the Humane Society of Louisiana. He works tirelessly for the Gulf Coast animals.

Jeff and all the other animal organizations on the Gulf Coast are faced with a crisis that equals or exceeds Hurricane Katrina proportions. The shelters, like Animal Rescue New Orleans, are overflowing with animals that have been surrendered or “dumped” at their doors by people whose livelihoods are gone and they are leaveing the area.

But animal wildlife organizations are also severely affected by the oil spill. Jeff and Humane Society of Louisiana are trying to help them.

Please read Jeff’s announcement below and do what you can to offer support, if you feel moved to participate. Thank you.

From: JEFF DORSON, Humane Society of Louisiana,

We need your help in the Gulf! We are traveling by boat to some of the hardest-impacted areas, giving coordinates of animals in distress to wildlife agents.

We are also preparing to file a lengthly report with the local district attorney’s office, asking that they charge BP with cruelty to animals, and we are hosting a two-day strategic planning conference on August 7th-8th in New Orleans to develop and implement new ways to help more animals.

Your donations will support all of these programs. We can’t do this without outside help. Join Operation Here to Help and donate through our Cause page.


Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

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What, you may be wondering, is a blog like Angel Animals doing by writing about a memorial to honor war dogs? The answer is that war dogs and angels have a lot in common. If you think of the words describing angels — messengers, protectors, loyal friends — you would also be describing dogs who are trained to aid military personnel in the most dangerous areas and situations in the world.

Many years ago Linda got a call from retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant John C. Burnam of Bethseda, Maryland. He was a dog handler during the Vietnam War. He had written a book about the dogs who had served with him, especially an amazing German shepherd named Clipper. John wanted Linda to edit his book. She agreed to help him.

John’s story gripped Linda from start to finish. She said that it felt as if she were slugging through the jungles of Vietnam with Clipper and John, as the dog led an infantry platoon through land that was laced with explosives. Relying on Clipper’s sense of smell, his survival instinct, and intense loyalty, John made it through dangers that took Linda’s breath away as she worked on his book.

Now John has founded the John Burnam Monument Foundation ( He has joined forces with the United States War Dog Association to convince Congress and the nation that military working dogs and dog handlers deserve to be honored for their service to the country.

Dogs have saved lives and often lost their own in the line of duty through World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Today, they are essential in the war on terror as they detect roadside bombs and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan for US and NATO troops.

In 2006, Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina introduced a bill calling for a national dog monument, and it was approved in 2008. On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed a law authorizing JBMF, Inc. to build and maintain the National Monument for Military Working Dog Teams.

Next week (week of April 19, 2010), John will meet with Congressional leaders and Pentagon officials in Washington D.C. to present a miniature clay model of the monument’s design, created by artist and sculptor Paula Slater. The monument model presents four breeds of military dogs — Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever, and Malinois — that have saved thousands of lives.

John continues to travel across the country, telling the military working dog story and raising funds through donations to build this national monument. John’s personal story can be found in the first printing of the original book Linda edited, DOG TAGS OF COURAGE (2006), and in a more recent book, A SOLDIER’S BEST FRIEND (2008). That book became the inspiration for a feature film, MOE, which is expected to be in production in early 2011.

We invite you to go to the John Burnam Monument Foundation’s website ( and support this exciting project whose time has come. An excerpt from DOG TAGS OF COURAGE/A SOLDIER’S BEST FRIEND is the featured story this week.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

Great story in Angel Animals Story of the Week (4-17-10) about a brave dog who served in the military at

Helping Animal Welfare Organizations

We continue to look for ways of doing more to help animal rescue and animal welfare organizations. While we already donate a portion of all our proceeds to nonprofit charities, send baskets of books for silent auctions, and speak at fundraising events, we want to expand our outreach and support.

We’re looking for corporate sponsors that want to reach the animal lovers who follow our work and read our books. Our goal is to find like-minded people in the corporate world who would get involved with us in helping nonprofit animal charities. If you have contacts in major corporations who might want to support Angel Animals in its charitable outreach goals, be sure to email us with your suggestions and ideas.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

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