Have you been able to help a pet find a new, safe, and loving home?

Finding a New Home

When a person must separate from a pet who has been a member of the family, it can be heartbreaking. It eases the pain if the person helps the animal relocate to a new home.

We often get calls from people who must give up their pets. They are heartbroken, and the only solace they have is that someone responsible will love and care for their animal friend. Sending a beloved pet to an animal shelter, where his or her fate will be unknown, is unbearable.

This week, we received a call from a young woman who is being deployed to Kuwait in early February. She had made arrangements with someone to care for her Great Dane while she would be out of the country. The deal had fallen through. Now, she has only a few weeks to find a new home for the dog.

By now, she has enough leads to help her with this dilemma. But we wanted to share one with you in case you know someone else in her situation. Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pets, www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org is set up specifically to foster pets of soldiers who are leaving to serve their country.

As people age and have to move to assisted living or places that don’t allow pets and with housing foreclosures that force people out of their homes, the displacement of pets has intensified.

We encourage you to look around in your communities, churches, and neighborhoods for those who could use a paw up in finding new homes for their animal companions. It may only take a few phone calls or a bit of internet research. You could save some lives and ease the burden of those whose hearts are aching.

On another note, in consideration for animals who struggle to stay alive and be rescued in Haiti, remember the animal organizations that are going there to help.

To keep informed about the animal side of the situation, subscribe to the newsletter provided by www.kinshipcircle.org.

United Animal Nations and other animal welfare and rescue organizations are sending their rescue teams to Haiti. They have formed an umbrella organization called Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH). To learn more about this and donate, go to www.uan.org/index.cfm?navid=670

Have you been able to help a pet find a new, safe, and loving home?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

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

Who has believed in your potential when no one else could see it?

First published by Angel Animals Story of the Week, January 9, 2010. Reprinted with permission. To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

By Kathe Campbell

A horse’s shocking year, as told to me by loving animal sanctuary folks in Montana — his ominous days before mending at my mountain ranch.

The young Mustang’s life was unruffled, his fodder and spring graze lush, while he contemplated his prime and lived near kin. The fields and pastures were seasonally green, and the rancher forked up two squares a day, lending belly comfort and warmth to the horse’s life even through winter’s chill. Then some folks arrived on the scene to take the youngster away. He left his ma and sidekicks while being prodded into a tiny horse trailer.

Life was now simpler for the gelding, no long green valleys, nobody to run the rivers with.  The hard case that bought the horse was unkind, jerking the youngin’ around while breaking him to saddle, and forcing that cussed bit.

Horse, as the new person called the Mustang, had never known about newfangled shouts, curses, and whippings that he was getting from the man’s leather quirt.  The youngster’s fare dissipated into mostly weeds and dandelions, stale ditch water, and nary one sweet handful of oats.  Worse, he stood afire under summer’s fierce rays while ogling grazing cattle across the fence.

The lady crawled upon Horse’s back for a spell, seemingly content with her new pony as they walked along the dirt road on fair afternoons.  But for an occasional cake of grass hay tossed over his rails by a kind neighbor, Horse was left to languish in the bare and dusty pen.  By summer’s end, his once sleek sorrel coat became pocked and dull, and his raw-boned hips and neck were bit through by a range of pesky chiggers.

Come evening, the man and lady screeched and hollered so loud as to make Horse’s ears twitch.  Sometimes the lady came flying off the back porch, only to lay bellerin’ in the dirt.  Often, the man became so angry, he swore and threw his fist through the window of their unholy little weather-beaten shack.

Autumn came, and the man left the place in his old rusty pickup. The weeds in Horse’s pen were done for, and yet seldom did a soul come with a cake of fodder.  Now and then the offish lady fetched a few handfuls of bunch grass from the yard, always carrying that rank bottle of lightening.  If she’d only offer to take Horse for a ride, he could easily harvest a meal from the dusty grass alongside the road, but it wasn’t to be.

The first snows saw the woman leaving early in the mornings, never seen till after dark throughout blizzards and hard freeze. She emerged nightly from her little car plumb full as a tick, mumbling nonsense as she weaved her way to the house.  Horse whinnied, cribbed on the rails, and kicked the boards, but the lady never turned the lights on or gave him a thought.  Crowbait now, and a layer of snow covering his back, icicles hung long and heavy from the Mustang’s mane.

Looking as though the half dead animal was ready for the bone orchard, a lady from the local animal sanctuary appeared. She opened Horse’s pen and ran gentle hands over his sorry body, murmuring soft sounds of love and reassurance.

Soon a horse trailer arrived, and Horse threaded his thin and weary legs up the ramp. But his knees collapsed, leaving him a crippled heap of filthy flesh and bone.  Kind folks helped him walk into a warm stall where he bedded for days with hay, oats, and fresh water. At only three years old, his way of going seemed lost, and unless salvaged, he’d be put out of his misery.

Weeks passed, and another horse trailer pulled alongside Horse’s stall. Other folks blanketed his emaciated carcass before escorting him inside.  After a long journey the doors opened to the scent of green sprouts in a field and the loping hooves of donkeys rushing to greet the pitiful wretch.  He was turned loose to the glory of it all — a barn, alfalfa hay, and clean running water when he thirsted. Horse was free.

Shivering and gasping at the sight, I saw Horse’s scrawny neck schmoozing my donkeys across the fence one early morn.  “So you’re our rescue baby, you sorrowful thing,” I tearfully whispered, caressing his head against my chest.  “We’ll bring you about.”

Horse was made welcome in a clean, straw-filled stall when he needed comfort and seclusion.  I brushed his coat daily, clipped and filed his split hooves, shared carrots, and assured him he had a home if he was a mind to stay.

He was high maintenance in the beginning and stayed for a goodly time at our ranch, high in the Montana mountains.  When we saddled up and rode the hills and forests on our big champion donkeys, Horse trailed along until he amassed the sleek coat, bulk, and muscle he was born with.

The day came when we shook hands and hugged a dear old friend as he and his small Indian grandson emerged from their truck. Horse had never seen a shave tail before and seemed taken with the boy’s tawny skin, shiny black hair, and winning smile.

The lad crawled up on Horse bareback, pulled gently on the reins, and spoke kind words as they rode the acres.  This was surely the best birthday present the youngster ever had, as the Mustang walked easily into their trailer to go home.  They called him “Freedom.”

Kathe lives on a Montana mountain with her mammoth donkeys, a Keeshond, and a few kitties.  She is a prolific writer on Alzheimer’s, and her stories are found on many ezines.  Kathe is a contributing author to the Chicken Soup For The Soul and Cup of Comfort series, numerous anthologies, RX for Writers, and medical journals.  Email her at <kathe @ wildblue.net>


Who has believed in your potential when no one else could see it?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

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

Have you befriended an animal who showed remarkable intelligence that others hadn’t seemed to notice?

“GRATITUDE FOR AN AMAZING HORSE” was first published in Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter on 12-12-09.  To subscribe send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

By Karen Murdock

“Lukas is such a lucky horse. He should be so grateful to you, Karen, for everything you’ve done for him”.

Gratitude is something on everyone’s mind around this time of year. Especially for me. I receive over one-hundred e-mails a day about Lukas, from all over the world, and many are similar to the one above.

Granted, Lukas has come a long way since leaving the racetrack after three unmemorable back-of-the-pack finishes and two bowed tendons. After changing hands several times, he ended up in a yard with a family that had no horse experience and severely neglected and underfed him.

When I purchased Lukas as a ten-year-old, green, project horse from the lady who had rescued him, I was hoping to be able to show him in some lower level local shows. However, within a month of competition training with the person who was then my barn’s instructor, Lukas quickly became surly, aloof, and dangerous. He began bucking, bolting, and spooking. Before long, he was unsafe even in his own stall.

At that low point, I decided to fall back on my trick-training experience to try and bridge the gap between us. Over the years, I had put tricks on horses as a way to help them find homes, establish a connection, and improve their concentration. I have found it to be a very fun, interactive, and creative process that promotes confidence, trust, and performance.

The foundation of my system is based on kindness and patience, using positive reinforcement to shape desirable behaviors and extinguish what I don’t want. Certainly, though, dangerous behaviors receive a correction based on the offense.

We started with the smile trick. As our lessons progressed, I began to notice a definite improvement in Lukas’s attitude and behavior. He became an eager and willing partner, happy to cooperate and initiate games. Our relationship deepened to love.

His ability to learn, his curiosity and personality flourished to the point that only four short months ago, friends and family urged (insisted) that Lukas was too special not to share with others. I agreed to have his videos posted on You-Tube and have since then, posted shorter clip versions, in hopes that it would increase awareness of horse rescues and thoroughbred ownership. The rest is history, as they say.

To date, Lukas is able to do all liberty moves: smile, pose, nod yes, shake his head no, yawn, catch, kiss (dry and wet), fetch, cross his front legs, wave, curtsy, bow, park out, push a cart, passage, Spanish walk (front and back), jambet (3 legged 180 pivot), act lame, put his legs all together, lie down and let me sit on him, rear, stay and come and go to a mark, pedestal work, hide-and-seek, and be “blindfolded”. He can spell and count and identify shapes and discriminate colors.

We have been privileged to be on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN (along with many non-affiliates), and Equisearch globally. The Associated Press released a feature story on Lukas last month, and it is still being picked up nationally.

His amazing story has also been included in many magazines, newspapers, forums, blogs, and on numerous websites. He has over 4,000 Facebook friends. He is currently listed both on Yahoo and Google as “The World’s Smartest Horse” (living) and is being compared to Beautiful Jim Key.

I am most proud of his association with The California Thoroughbred Breeder’s Association — an organization dedicated to correct breeding and promotion of Thoroughbreds. Lukas is the official “Spokeshorse” of Canter — a wonderful group committed to finding homes for ex-racehorses. In addition, we are associated with Heal with Horses, a program to aid trauma victims through equine-assisted therapy.

To date, Lukas’s invitations include The Grand Prix HITS Desert Circuit, The Equine Affaire, The International Equestrian Festival, The Western States Horse Expo, and America’s Family Pet Expo.

So, as you may have already guessed, it is I who am grateful to have such an incredible equine partner. His resilience, ability to forgive, zest for life and learning, sense of humor, trust, and love are a daily inspiration to me. Now he also inspires so many others.

Visit www.playingwithlukas.com to see photos and videos of Lukas.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/nlimage23.html to see a sweet photo of Lucas with a friend.

Karen Murdock is a retired psychiatric nurse who has been fixing problem horses for over 30 years. She uses a combination of shaping techniques, a specialized version of clicker training, and positive reinforcement. Her unique approach uses games and play as a way to connect and bond with horses to develop confidence, increase focus, improve performance, and build willingness and trust. All of her services and proceeds go to benefit horses. Visit www.playingwithlukas.com to see videos, photos, and read more about Lukas.


Have you befriended an animal who showed remarkable intelligence that others hadn’t seemed to notice?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

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

What ways have you found to help animal rescue organizations?

Early New Year’s Resolutions

Today, we had an invigorating breakfast meeting where we talk and about new goals for the new year. In this tough economy 2009 was hard on just about everybody. But the animal shelters and animal welfare organizations experienced undue hardships.

So many people’s houses went into foreclosure that animal shelters were deluged with frightened, confused pets who suddenly became homeless overnight. The shelters have become overcrowded. Not as many people felt they could afford to adopt a shelter pet.

We’re exploring ways that we can help animal shelters and organizations. We’re looking at possibilities for doing fundraising and speaking engagements to increase awareness and funds for homeless animals.

Just a reminder that in this season of giving, please be sure to remember how much your local animal shelters (and even the national organizations) need your donations of time, materials, and money. Shelters with websites often list the types of donations they need. Things like blankets, food, toys, and crates go a long way toward helping them to survive.

The animals will thank you. They always do.

What ways have you found to help animal rescue organizations?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

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

Visiting Viola, a Horse with a Mission

We recently visited Tanya K. Welsch and her horse Viola at the MN LINC (Minnesota Linking Individuals, Nature, and Critters) nonprofit organization in Hamel, Minnesota. Tanya is the cofounder of MN LINC (www.mnlinc.org), an amazing charity that pairs at-risk youth and other people with animals to give them a nature-based experience that enhances and enriches their psychotherapy, counseling, or educational programs.

Tanya’s heart-opening story “Viola, Wise Mother Mare” is featured in our new book HORSES WITH A MISSION. The book launch on Tuesday, October 6th, 7:30 p.m. CDT at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books will also serve as a fundraiser for MN LINC. The bookstore is generously donating 10 percent of all sales to MN LINC the night of the launch.

Viola, a Norwegian Fjord, was imported from Norway to become a broodmare in upstate New York. Eventually Viola made her way to Tanya and MN LINC. Viola put her mothering skills to excellent use as a co-therapist in MN LINC’s animal-and-nature-facilitated psychotherapy, learning, and wellness program for youth and families. With her innate maternal wisdom, Viola is incredibly intuitive and nurturing, especially with at-risk youth.

It was delightful for us to talk with Tanya and find out firsthand how MN LINC positively affects children who have had a rough start in life. Tanya explained that often with children traditional therapy isn’t as effective because it requires sitting in a chair and communicating thoughts and feelings.

We could relate. We remembered asking our kids when they were little, “How was your day?” Answer: “Fine.” Or “How are you feeling?” Answer: “Okay.”

When Tanya and her specially trained staff and volunteers match the children with a horse, or goat, or chicken, or rabbit, the children begin to express their emotions naturally. Adults also come to MN LINC for the kind of nature and animal-based experience that they couldn’t find anywhere else. Social services, the court system, schools, and therapists refer children to this organization for its innovative and highly effective approaches.

It was a thrill to visit with the gorgeous mare Viola and other animals at the MN LINC facility. Viola was all we expected and more. She displayed a deep calm with an intuitive, almost magical touch.

We also got to meet and spend time with Carolyn Hauck and her rescued horse Dillon. Carolyn helps to get the word out about MN LINC and how much good the organization does for those who would benefit from animal assisted therapy. If you would like to meet Tanya and hear her story about Viola, come to the HORSES WITH A MISSION book launch and MN LINC fundraiser at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books in St. Paul.

You can also meet Tanya and another Minnesota contributing author, Pauline Peterson, at Minnetonka BORDERS Books and Music. Visit www.horseswithamission.com for details about the book events in St. Paul and Minnetonka.

So mark you calendars! We want a big crowd and lots of bookstore donations for MN LINC.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/recentevents.html to see photos of our visit to MN LINC.

What are the charitable organizations you support that help both people and animals?

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.

* * *
We hope you’ll consider 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.

“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

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.

* * *
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

Preparing Pets for Fireworks

We asked our Facebook and Twitter friends to tell all of us what they do to prepare pets for fireworks displays. The responses were so helpful that we want to share them with our readers. We are not recommending any of these remedies. You have to use your discretion and do what you think works best for your pets. But people have certainly found some creative and comforting solutions.

Since I am a behavior consultant I’ve outlined a variety of tips for last minute and long term planned strategies in two different articles here: http://budurl.com/SafeSanePetsJuly4th or
–Diana L. Guerrero

How To Keep Pets Safe During Fireworks or Thunderstorms http://blog.animalcommunicating.com/?p=846
–Karen Anderson, Animal Communicator

One of the biggest mistakes pet owners do is “reassure” their pet with soft talk and cuddling. This only reinforces their fear! I’ve always conditioned my dogs to not have fear of loud noises like thunder and fireworks by remaining calm around them and having treats available to reward them so as soon as they hear the sound they associate it with a treat. This is positive reinforcement. never used “coddling” to reassure them, as in this case, is a negative reinforcement.
–Anita Solomon

As a former animal control officer, I always requested that the city post a reminder on the water bills for everyone in the city that our 4th of July impounds were about 30 percent higher than the average day. I advised people to make sure, especially if they were not going to be home, that they secure their animals. I personally use Quiet Moments for my dogs, a herbal sedative available at Petco.
–Shawn Pendell Green

My Clancy is a little Yorkie, and I’ve actually had him with me in a carrier while observing fireworks outside. Of course I never exposed him to excess noise levels by being right up close! But by exposing him to fireworks from when he was a pup, he is oblivious to the noise.

I don’t really go out much, so I will be home. I turn up the fans to high and put on music or a movie and sit with my bunnies, if a close noise is loud, and they get scared. I work at the racetrack, and that is an even harder task to keep the horses calm. You just have to keep an eye on them, close their bottom doors, make sure they have hay to try and occupy them. I don’t like the Fourth for that reason, too many locals with cheap, noisy fireworks.
–Randi Melton

One of us stays home and talks to her and keeps her calm.
–John P. Andolina Jr.

Mine hides in the shower!
–Holly Cook

It’s not easy. Our golden is terrified, but we just keep talking and praising him and of course petting him at all times!
–Maureen Freeman

Keep them inside and turn the TV or radio up and talk to them in a soft voice. Let them know it’s okay, and you are there to protect them.
–Terri Storm

I usually go and hang out with them, give them carrots, and reassure them by talking and explaining what is going on in my horse-talk/whisper way. Since having horses, I don’t really go watch fireworks anymore because of this. My mare is used to the noise and she’s bombproof anyway, but my rescued/adopted ex-racehorse, being a Thoroughbred, isn’t as comfortable, although last year he was okay.
–Teri Rehkopf

My two Jack Russells have no problems with noise of either fireworks or thunder, but my dear “T” who has crossed The Bridge suffered terribly. We found that giving him 25mg of melatonin at least two hours before the noise started, GREATLY alleviated his distress. This medication is available over-the-counter with no prescription. It is a naturally occurring substance and not a drug. Consequently it does not make them “doped up” or have any of the usual tranquilizer side effects.
–Barri Soreil

When we lived in the city, we kept the doors and windows shut and I sat on the floor with my two dogs. Same for Halloween and New Year’s Eve.
–Joy Lemmons

Daisy paces incessantly when they start. Usually I turn on the air and she does very well. Poor girl.
–Mel Freer

Your vet will prescribe a sedative without any questions and trust me it really helps.
–Jake Compton

HomeoPet TFLN Anxiety is a homeopathic remedy for relief from fear of: thunderstorms, fireworks, loud noises, and windstorms. It is a natural, non-sedating, tasteless liquid that really helps my mom’s dog cope with thunderstorms.
–Patti Towhill

When my Pom, Hayley, was alive, we had to get the canine version of Xanax for her. One 4th, we came home to find her hiding in the bathtub and she had pooped EVERYWHERE in it! Not sure how my current dogs handle it, though I think they both sleep through it, if we’re sleeping.
–Jennifer Dunn Walsdorf

Homeopathic Gelsemium is a safe and gentle way to reduce the severity of any fireworks-induced anxiety. Whatever potency you can get will be fine from 6x to 30c. You will be amazed. It also works for trips to the vet or when they know you’ll be gone for a long while.
–Robert Scott Bell

In my neighborhood we keep our pets indoors. My cats are indoors only and still get frightened. I pet them and reassure them that everything is okay. One cat has been scared of thunder and always ran and hid under the bed. He has gradually lost most of his fear at loud noises and starts to run but stops and looks back at me as if to say, “Should I run or stay?” The petting and assurance works fairly well. Frankly, sudden, loud noises make me jump, too!

I’ve never attended public fireworks and festivities, because it seems no matter where we’ve lived there are always neighborhood lunatics who set off what seem to be bombs. It scares the dogs so much, and I’d like to think they feel better with me here. I’m watching my mom’s dog this week and he is very, very uncomfortable.
–Jeannine Mallory

What do you do to prepare your pets for fireworks?

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?

The Bonds of Divine Love Between People and Animals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has a rescued animal inspired greatness and generosity in you?

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


By Annette Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Has a rescued animal inspired greatness and generosity in you?


Do you know the history of any of your rescued animals?

From time to time we share the Angel Animals Story of the Week in our blog.  This week’s story is about a dog whose path to a good home was lit three times by good-hearted people.

“Three-time Rescued Angel Dog” first published in the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter on July 5, 2008.  Visit www.angelanimals.net for more information about the weekly newsletter.

By Janet Toews

My husband and I moved to acreage when we were first married. One of the first things we did was to get what my husband referred to as a “good guard dog.” I already had an English bull terrier I had inherited in my divorce settlement. This dog would take off with anyone who offered him a ride in the car. So we got a shepherd collie-cross from a farm family and named him Texas.

Texy, as we sometimes called him, was a love bug but not a real good guard dog.  So we got yet another dog, this time, a purebred Akita. We named her Montana but ended up calling her Monty for short. When Texy and Monty were about six years old, we got another Akita named Dakota, or Koko for short.

Texas and Monty grew up together and were buddies.  They lived to the ripe old age of fourteen years and died within six months of each other. Koko was bereft and for the longest time she would look all over for Texy and Monty.

I was not prepared for the grief I felt. I was waking up in the night crying. I cried while driving my car. I cried at the mention of their names. This lessened somewhat at the sixth month mark, but I was still a seriously depressed.

I didn’t cry as much, but I felt totally dead inside as if I were operating on autopilot. Koko barely moved and just slept all the time.

I was on my way to a funeral one day. To get to the large hall they used for the service, I had to drive past our local SPCA. I got the most incredible urge to go in and look at the dogs. “For heaven’s sake, stay focused!” I told myself. “You’re on the way to a funeral, not dog shopping!”

Of course, when the funeral was over, I had to drive past the SPCA again. This time my van pulled over and parked, all on it’s own. There I was sitting, wondering how I had parked the van without being aware of what I had done. ” OK,” I said to myself. “If this is so compelling an urge, perhaps you should go in.”  So I did.

As I walked down a center aisle lined with cages on both sides, I kept thinking I was insane. There I was, dressed to the nines, hair, makeup, jewelry, and even heels, walking down a corridor in our very dilapidated, smelly, badly in need of replacing SPCA, with every bad dog behavior known to man, being exhibited by these dogs. There were dogs with schizophrenia, bipolar or borderline personality disorders, anger management issues, you name it. What a howling, barking cacophony!

I was literally shrinking into myself as I walked for fear I would get dog spittle on my good clothes. I reached an empty kennel toward the end and thought, “Thank God, this is over. Now I can go home.”

As I turned, I glimpsed a husky/shepherd/Lab-cross puppy sitting alone in the very last kennel. I stopped and stared and then said, “Hello, who are you?”

She remained quiet and put her paw up on the wire mesh. I put my hand close to the mesh. She gently licked my hand. I was instantly in love and made arrangements to take her home the next day.

The day I picked her up, I decided to walk her for a few blocks before putting her in the car. I needed to make sure there wouldn’t be any accidents on the way home.  Suddenly a van pulled over, and a girl and a woman jumped out. The girl came running over to us and asked if I had gotten this dog from the SPCA. I said, yes, and then she cried, “That’s our dog!”

Needless to say, I was devastated. I offered to take her back to the SPCA and get my money refunded. Both the woman and girl assured me that as long as this dog had a good home, they were happy.

The girl then told me that she and her sister had gone up north to visit family on their reserve. A man was drowning a litter of pups in the lake. He was about to finish off the last one, when her sister begged the man to give her the pup. He did, and the girls brought the dog to their foster home in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

The foster mom and the girl went on to explain that someone had stolen the puppy out of their fenced back yard. The SPCA told me that when they picked up the puppy she had been wandering back alleys.

So by the time I got her, she had been rescued three times. Once from drowning, by a little girl. Once from being lost and hungry by the SPCA. And lastly, by me from the SPCA.  I decided she must have a guardian angel looking out for her, so I called her Angel.

After all she has gone through, Angel would have the right to be angry but she is the sweetest dog alive. Everyone loves her the minute they lay eyes on her, and she loves everyone she meets. My depression over the losses of Texy and Monty has been replaced
with a feeling of joy every time I snuggle this puppy. Two years later, she truly is still my Angel dog.

Janet Toews is in her fifties and retired. Janet and her husband live on an eighty-acre ranch in Saskatchewan, Canada and raise miniature cattle. They have horses, dogs, birds, and cats. Janet and her husband love animals.


Do you know the history of any of your rescued animals? Want to share a story about the chain of events that brought you together with a special pet? (Share on any of the three blogs or email the story to angelanimals@aol.com.)