A Dog Named Leaf

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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.

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Being Present for Your Pets

sunshine-and-leafMore often than not, we receive stories from people who write about their pets after the beloved companion has died. Although these stories are wonderful tributes, we wonder if the person might have written while their pet was still alive.  Note: Leaf (dog), Sunshine (bird), and Speedy (cat) are featured in the images in the blog.

The process of writing causes the writer to become aware and observant. It brings the past and future together in the present. Although it has been cathartic for us, too, to write about pets who are no longer with us, there is something immensely satisfying when we take the time to be present to our pets right now.

speedy-1

In the present moment we can express our gratitude for the joy they are bringing to our lives. When Allen wrote his New York Times bestselling memoir A Dog Named Leaf, it was emotionally fulfilling to be able to take a walk with Leaf, photograph him playing at his favorite dog park, and tuning in to who he is to us today.

There is always a tinge of sadness in writing about animals, even while they are living. We know their life spans are shorter than ours. We know this immensely good thing will someday end. But writing and sharing
stories about them, while we can still pet and play together, replaces fears of loss with admiration and gratitude for the blessings.

sunshine-1Let’s see what new and inspiring stories bubble to the surface as a result of living in the present and rejoicing in the blessings of now.

 

“Anatole France said, ‘Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.’ We agree with that statement. And we heartily invite you to join us in exploring the world of Angel Animals.”

Do your pets try to talk to you?

A Dog Named Leaf

A Dog Named Leaf

DOG TALK

For many years, our cocker spaniel Leaf has vocalized to Linda in an attempt to talk to her every night before we all go to sleep. He jumps up on the bed, rolls over for a belly rub, and then begins with a series of moans and groans that are his version of words and sentences.

Depending on how tough or interesting a day he’s had, he talks a lot or a little; in calm or excited tones. Linda asks him a question such as, “How was your day?” Leaf answers with emotional responses.

Allen is also on the bed, watching the scene unfold. But Leaf doesn’t confide in him. He only shares his heart with his “mommy”. Allen’s role is to play with Leaf, so Linda calls him “Leaf’s favorite toy.” The dog is more than happy to have Allen scratching his ears during the debriefing session on bed at night.

One night, Linda was amused to hear Leaf talking to her in his usual manner. Except for one thing: Leaf was having the conversation in a dream. From his dog bed next to ours, Leaf babbled on with the same kinds of moans and snorts he uses while awake.

Nice to know that even in his dreams, Leaf continues to communicate in his unique ways.

A Dog Named Leaf

A Dog Named Leaf

How do you make special time for your pets?

MAKING SPECIAL TIME FOR YOUR PETS

Feeding, cleaning, exercising, grooming, caring for, playing with pets can sometimes seem like a full-time job, especially in multiple-pet families.

How do you find time for it all?

Cuddles

Cuddles

If you’re like us, you have to multitask, even with your pets. Exercising includes walking combined with playtime and throwing the ball for our cocker spaniel Leaf.

Annual vet appointments involve bringing both our cat Cuddles and Leaf to the veterinarian’s office at the same time. We found that sharing their distress with each other actually seems to help them cope better. Cuddles can scurry back into her carrying case and feel safe while Leaf is having his exam.

But one thing that each of our pets requires and deserves is at least a few minutes everyday of our undivided attention. Cuddles tends to like her quiet time while sitting on Linda’s lap in the morning. Linda has to work around the cat in order to write in her journal and do a contemplation. But the sound of Cuddles’s sweet purring adds a blissful dimension to the centered start of her day.

Sunshine

Sunshine

Leaf’s special time comes at night when we take turns rubbing his belly, while he sprawls out on the bed. First, he carefully paws Allen’s side of the bed as if preparing a nesting place. Then while Linda pats his head, he answers her question — How was your day? — with grunts, groans, and other vocalizations.

Leaf licks Allen’s cheeks for a while and then settles in the middle of the bed to sleep until Linda finishes reading and turns off the lights.

Cuddles curls up next to Linda’s side. The bird is covered in his cage, sleeping on his perch behind a spray of millet. And everyone drifts into sleep and dream.

How do you make special time for your pets?

What do you think about emotional-support animals?

EMOTIONAL-SUPPORT ANIMALS

The April 22, 2013 issue of TIME Magazine had a thought-provoking article about emotional-support animals (ESA), “Comfort Creatures: Support Animals Help Patients, but That Lizard May Be Against the Law.”

The National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) certifies service and emotional-support animals and has registered 7,000 of them since 1995. The NSAR certifies dogs, cats, pigs, birds, mice, rats, hedge hogs, iguanas, rabbits, and goats. These animals can then wear vests or patches and have ID cards to prove they are necessary to the people they serve.

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Mental health professionals can prescribe an animal’s companionship for patients to help them cope with emotional and psychological symptoms. But health departments can counteract the diagnosis with laws that restrict farm animals. Neighbors can and do report pet owners who they believe are keeping pets or traveling with them illegally.

According to the article there is a confusing gray area about what constitutes a service animal and who needs them. With physical disability, everyone can see why the person needs the animal. With emotional issues, the reasons for having a service animal may not be visible. “Complicating the issue further was the growing diversity of critters aiding people with physical disabilities: boa constrictors that warn their owners of oncoming seizures; capuchin monkeys that help quadriplegics eat and drink; parrots that verbally calm owners who suffer from bipolar disorder.”

Allen and Leaf

Allen and Leaf

The article doesn’t mention a further complication – people who make up their own vests and badges in order to self-certify a pet. Sometimes, this is due to the fact that someone with a disability is on a long waiting list to receive a professionally trained service animal or can’t afford to pay for one. Someone wrote to us that she couldn’t bear to be without her dog and had “faked” a vest that allowed the dog to go everywhere with her.

What do you think about emotional-support animals? Have you had an animal officially or informally who offered you so much emotional support that you had to have him or her with you everywhere?

OUR NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

The 2012 memoir A DOG NAMED LEAF about our rescued cocker spaniel and Allen facing life-threatening challenges together, will be on the New York Times Best Sellers list next week (December  21).  Wow! We are letting fans of that book know and we’re getting a lot of heartfelt positive responses.

It’s amazing how many of the comments people have made about the book on Amazon and Facebook mention that they couldn’t put it down. One woman wrote us and was “mad” because she’d only intended to read a couple of chapters at bedtime but was up till 2:00 a.m.

This book was very personal and painful to write and have published. We adopted Leaf from the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley in 2006 when he was one year old.  Previously we had volunteered at the animal shelter. We are grateful that Animal Humane Society did not give up on this abandoned dog and moved him from their Coon Rapids location to Golden Valley in hopes that he would have a better chance of finding a home. Broken and scared, he turned out to have a much tougher time than we anticipated while learning to be in a family (or even inside a house).

There are times in life when one or two years are packed with experiences that normally would happen over decades.  It was that way with Leaf and Allen.  Thankfully, they found each other at exactly the right time. Together, they went through the ups and downs of bonding while walking around Twin City lakes and visiting local dog parks. 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.

Shortly after we adopted Leaf, one of the best neurosurgeons in the country, on staff at a local hospital, operated on Allen to heal an unruptured brain aneurysm that could burst at any time. By then, Leaf and he were two comrades struggling to survive what life was throwing at them.

It took a long time to come to the point of being able to add to our bios: New York Times bestselling authors.  Many writers know how much perseverance and patience is required before having a breakthrough. In this era of YouTube and Instagram and instant gratification, it’s tough for aspiring writers to understand that these types of fame flashes are like winning the lottery and with similar odds.

About halfway through our journey of writing animal-themed books, the pundits were declaring that books were dead. No one was reading anymore. Then e-books came along. Soon, people who hadn’t read a book in years were reading.

So our publisher converted our backlist print books into e-books. The e-books began selling very well and driving people to their print book counterparts. If we hadn’t persevered and continued writing new books over the years, the publishers would have let the old books go out of print, and we would have missed this new era of e-book sales. But we were viable authors who were still building readership and consequently were able to survive during the era when books were supposed to be having their last gasps of breath.

One college freshman came up to us at our book event and was carrying an armful of books. She said she had never read an entire book all through high school. But e-books had gotten her reading again, and she realized what she was missing in her life — books!

Join us in celebrating a milestone.  Check out A DOG NAMED LEAF at http://amzn.to/1Gm0V1V

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

Barnes and Noble presents Robin Ganzert, PhD – author of Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors with her special furry animal actor friend

Barnes and Noble
~presents~

Robin Ganzert, PhD – author of Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors with her special furry animal actor friend at book events around the country.

Great Day Houston

GREAT DAY HOUSTON featuring Robin Ganzert, PhD — author of Animal Stars Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors

If you want to have an entertaining and fun time, attend an Animal Stars family-friendly book event. Author Robin Ganzert (president and CEO of American Humane Association) will be sharing fascinating stories and autographing books. You’ll get to meet a special animal actor furry friend Robin will bring with her to the event. These interactive book presentations and signings have an element of surprise. Which movies and television shows did this animal actor star in? Like Robin Williams who called Crystal the monkey one of his favorite leading ladies, which movie and TV stars fell in love with their animal co-stars? See up-close how sweet, loving, and talented an animal star can be.

Robin Ganzert, PhD – author of Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors

Robin Ganzert, PhD – author of Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors with her special furry animal actor friend.

You will be glad you came. AND, your book purchase will help to support the important and historic work of American Humane Association to protect children and animals.

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

Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors

Schedule:

October 14, 2014 @ 7PM
Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park
Dallas, Texas

October 18, 2014 @ 11AM
Barnes & Noble Tysons Corner
McLean, Virginia (Washington, D.C.)

October 22, 2014 @ 12PM
Barnes & Noble Prudential Center
Boston, Massachusetts

October 26, 2014 @ 3PM
Barnes & Noble Winston-Salem
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

October 28, 2014 @ 7PM
Barnes & Noble Northwest
Las Vegas, Nevada

October 30, 2014 @ 7PM
Barnes & Noble Zona Rosa
Kansas City, Missouri

November 1, 2014 @ 6PM
Barnes & Noble Cool Springs
Brentwood, Tennessee (Nashville)

November 15, 2014
Barnes & Noble Birkdale
Huntersville, North Carolina (Charlotte)

Hudson Kissing a New Friend

Hudson Kissing a New Friend

Animal Stars Event

Animal Stars Event