Excerpt from the New York Times bestselling book, A DOG NAMED LEAF: The Hero from Heaven Who Saved My Life, Chapter 16 “Be Nice Leaf” by Allen Anderson with Linda Anderson, published by Lyons Press, Guilford, Connecticut. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
From Chapter 16, “Be Nice Leaf…”
Just as I thought we were finishing up our time at the dog park that day, Leaf took another opportunity to let me witness his true character.
Normally, he runs to the gate when it’s time to leave. He carries his ball in his mouth and looks like he’s ready to go home and enjoy his nap. That day, though, he stood about twenty feet from the gate near the only other dog left at the park. A woman sat on a bench, watching the dog. Up to that point, Leaf had ignored the dog and woman.
He looked at me and at the lone dog and then back at me again. I held the gate open. Why didn’t he run over to it? I felt a nudge, my inner voice, telling me to ignore the heat and my longing for an air-conditioned car.
Leaf and I walked over to a woman, who gently talked to the dog she had named Murphy. “I rescued him only twenty-four hours ago,” she explained. She went on to say which shelter Murphy had come from.
“That’s the same place we found Leaf,” I said. Both dogs had been abandoned there and left to fend for themselves.
Murphy looked traumatized, scared, and alone even with the woman’s constant reassurance. “I’m your forever mommy,” she told him repeatedly.
“How is Murphy doing?” I asked.
“Since the time I adopted him, he’s been so upset that he hasn’t gone to the bathroom.” The note of worry in her voice made me empathize with her immediately. I recalled all of the conversations and concerns Linda and I had about Leaf’s initial elimination issues.
As we talked, I threw Leaf’s orange ball for him a couple of times. Murphy watched Leaf running after it His expression conveyed that he wanted to join in the fun. I bent down, focused my eyes on his face, and said, “Murphy, you look very handsome.”
Murphy touched his nose to my hand. I slowly rolled Leaf’s orange ball down the hill again. This time, Murphy ran after it. He stopped after about five or six feet and hurried back to his mommy. The lady was delighted and praised him.
Leaf observed the scene and wagged his tail with increasing momentum. He came up to Murphy, and the two dogs stood nose-to-nose for a few seconds. Their tails wagged in unison. Leaf didn’t make any gestures to play. Perhaps he sensed that any sudden movements might scare the timid dog even more. But I was pleased to see that they had made a dog-to-dog connection.
I talked more about Leaf’s past with Murphy’s new mommy. She commented on my dog’s healthy and strong personality. “He’s strutting like he’s fearless,” she said. I knew it had to be encouraging for her to see that an abandoned shelter dog could eventually regain self-confidence.
“Murphy has a bright future,” she said. “He will be spoiled, loved, and safe in his new home.” I told her about the great doggy daycare in the neighborhood that had helped Leaf become more socialized. The tension began to fade from her face.
Now a more relaxed Murphy walked a few feet away to a grassy area. Leaf had used it earlier for his potty break. Murphy sniffed, circled the area, sniffed again, and at last, was at ease enough to eliminate.
My dog and I walked to the gate once more. Leaf carried his orange ball in his mouth. He constantly surprised me with his intuitive abilities. Leaf had listened to his inner voice about Murphy and had responded with all the love in his heart.
I did not know it at the time, but what I had witnessed — Leaf’s ability to empathize and be there when someone needed him — would become my lifeline in the days and weeks to come.
A DOG NAMED LEAF:
A DOG NAMED LEAF is a New York Times bestseller. The American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA) selected A DOG NAMED LEAF by Minnesota authors Allen Anderson with Linda Anderson (Globe Pequot/Lyons Press) as one of the winners of the prestigious ASJA Awards in the Lifestyle/Memoir category.