Alpha Leaf

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Excerpted from New York Times bestselling book, A Dog Named Leaf by Allen Anderson with Linda Anderson, published by Lyons Press. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Summary of the Story:

Allen and Linda Anderson adopted a traumatized one-year-old cocker spaniel who had been abandoned. Soon, the troubled dog they named “Leaf” turned their home into a war zone. Although Leaf and Allen were forging a friendship with visits to dog parks and bonding time, Leaf’s emotional issues overwhelmed the couple.

Shortly after Leaf’s arrival, Allen, who had spent eight years as a big city police officer and survived so many close calls that Linda called him “Miracle Man,” received a diagnosis from his doctor that made him think his luck had finally run out. Allen had an unruptured brain aneurysm that could be fatal, and the surgery to repair it might leave him debilitated.

A few weeks after Allen’s brain surgery while he was still trying to recover, the following section of the story occurred.

***

Alpha Leaf

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During my healing process Leaf became my channel for viewing and living in the strange post-surgery world where my body could no longer be trusted to do what was necessary. After I was cleared to drive again, I took Leaf to the dog park so both of us could relax. With my frontal lobe still not in total functioning mode, other drivers agitated me. I now understood how a person could be overtaken by road rage.

To my embarrassment, I found myself yelling at drivers who lingered at stoplights. It irritated me that they crossed lanes too close in front of my car, chattered on their cell phones, or indulged in other poor driving habits. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have been fazed much and just made sure I got out of their way.

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In our car CD player, we keep a recording of around five thousand people chanting the love-filled mantra “HU.” For me, it is an incredibly soothing sound. The voices of all these chanters fluctuate and harmonize into a magnificent, unrehearsed symphony of high vibrational sound. When I’m driving I often push the button on the car stereo system and listen to the uplifting song waft through the speakers. With Leaf in the car, I doubly enjoy the chant, sensing that it also soothes and comforts him.

On this day Leaf watched me from the front seat as my anger erupted at other drivers. I was like someone with Tourette’s syndrome, unable to censor my negative mind talk. After watching me scream

at a bus that stopped frequently in front of my car, Leaf reached his paw over to the CD player. Out of six buttons on the stereo, he firmly pressed the one that allowed the HU CD to play.

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The timing, position of his paw, his selection of buttons, and the CD that happened to be in the stereo could have all been coincidental. I didn’t care. I needed it. Consciously or not, I knew Leaf was being God’s messenger for me. His act of compassion had its desired effect. I calmed down and let the chant heal my troubled, aching heart and mind. Gratitude welled up in me. My dog had figured out how to supply exactly what I needed to dissolve a passion of the mind I couldn’t control.

I looked over at him. As if nothing had happened, as if he did this sort of thing every day, his attention returned to the traffic. His curious eyes darted back and forth as he watched cars whiz by. Who was this dog? If I couldn’t register an oncoming vehicle, would he lean over and steer the car out of the way for me too?

Later that day I sat on the living room couch with Leaf in his usual spot. His body draped across my torso, and his head rested on my crossed leg. Although I’d grown over the months to appreciate him at deeper levels, at this moment I experienced an epiphany about our relationship.

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I looked at my little adopted dog and realized that we were both emotionally damaged goods. My lack of trust in people, fear of being dependent like my stroke-ridden father, discomfort when people expressed their emotions, and an overwhelming need for privacy all sprung from a childhood in which I never had enough strength to feel safe. Eight years of police work had confronted me with some of the worst humanity had to offer. With its random violence, it had reinforced my low opinion of anyone’s, including my own, trustworthiness.

a-dog-named-leaf-5Leaf ‘s fear, mistrust, and mercurial emotions arose from losing everything he’d ever known and being left without any safety net but his own street smarts. Although he’d been the abandoned shelter dog we rescued, without a doubt he had more than returned the favor. I knew now that life had turned our relationship to its flip side. Leaf was rescuing and trying to heal me. This little black cocker spaniel, abandoned and thrown out like someone’s trash, named Harley at the shelter after a motorcycle he detested, had become nothing less than a spiritual giant in my life.

Visit <http://www.adognamedleaf.com&gt; for details about A DOG NAMED LEAF.

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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

Meeting Finder, the Horse Who Played Joey in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse

From childhood, we have always felt loved horses. We love horses so much that we have written two books about these amazing creatures. Just as millions of people around the world have, we watched the Thoroughbred Joey in Steven Spielberg’s movie War Horse and marveled at the horse’s acting and athletic ability. Remember the spectacular scene when Joey jumps over the World War I tanks? The horse’s keen intelligence and bravery heightened our regard for him from respect to awe.

Finder

Finder

What a treat it would be to actually meet Finder, the amazing horse who played the role of Joey, and his incredible trainer Bobby Lovgren. Part of our extensive research as co-authors with Robin Ganzert, PhD, president and CEO of American Humane Association, for our new book Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors, was to meet the celebrity animals who star in film and television and to interview their world-class trainers.

In mid-July 2013, we drove to the home of Bobby Lovgren, his wife Wendy, and their family. Coming from the Midwest’s Twin Cities, we were unaccustomed to the dry desert heat and cooled down by sipping on icy fruit smoothies. Relying on a crisp-voiced GPS navigator, we wound our way outside Los Angeles to a world where animals are the stars.

We arrived at Bobby’s home to find a horse ranch with stables and corrals. After graciously greeting us, Bobby and Wendy brought us into a spacious open room of their home. Its walls and shelving displayed photos and memorabilia from movies for which Bobby had trained and wrangled horses. The Lovgren’s home seemed like a sanctuary where a world-traveled trainer could rest and regroup with his family between assignments.

Interviewing Bobby

We set up our microphone and tape recorder and retrieved our notepads for taking additional notes. Bobby’s stories and adventures as a movie animal trainer kept us entertained and enlightened. He stressed his determination that safety protocols be followed for horses and other animal actors. He explained that he repeatedly practices any trick or action a horse is asked to perform. Without patience and careful practice, Bobby would not allow the horse to do the trick.

Finder and Bobby Lovgren

Finder and Bobby Lovgren

His one regret? Often scenes that took weeks of practice and orchestration to do safely, get attributed to CGI effects by audiences (and even movie reviewers).

Sometimes, Bobby has to refuse a director’s request for an action but usually can find a safe alternative for getting the same effect. He expressed his appreciation for having American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives on set. When Bobby feels concern over doing animal action, the safety reps are always firmly in his corner and helping to find other ways to accomplish the director’s goals.

Our conversation turned to talking about Finder. We had already interviewed Bobby on the phone for his story in Animal Stars, “Finder, as Joey in War Horse, a Director’s Dream Actor.” Bobby describes Finder is a Thoroughbred who adds a touch of attitude to every performance. One of the statements in his story had made us especially eager to meet this magnificent horse. He had said, “Finder is the most challenging animal I’ve worked with because he loves when cameras and people are around. They energize him. A professional, he brings something new to each scene.”

Meeting Finder

At last, it was time for us to meet Finder. As we walked to a fenced-in running area that held several horses, and Bobby left to bring the famous gelding to us, we talked to each other about all the kind words Steven Spielberg had said about Bobby and Finder. Flown to England for War Horse, Finder and Bobby impressed Steven Spielberg with their professionalism and skill. About the experience, the iconic director had written for Animal Stars, “I thought the centaur was a mythological creature until I watched Bobby Lovgren and Finder interacting. At one point, I could not tell man from horse. They both performed admirably.”

Finder

Finder

Soon, Bobby brought Finder to a large open area that he uses for training and exercising his horses. Beautiful, muscular, and confident, Finder strutted next to Bobby as they entered the arena. The power of Finder’s pride and presence was palpable. While some people meet a Holly wood star and feel disappointed, saying things such as, “He’s shorter than he looks onscreen,” Finder was even more imposing than he appeared in War Horse. Everything Bobby had told us about him was true–and more: This horse had attitude!

Bobby allowed Finder to show off a bit for his visitors by rearing up on his hind legs, running, and trotting. Finished for the time being with impressing us, he came over to where we had been watching him, awestruck. At Bobby’s instruction, Finder carefully lay down on the ground. We gathered around, knelt in the dust, and stroked our hands across his sleek back and sides.

Finder with Allen & Linda Anderson

Finder with Allen & Linda Anderson

The trust and affection between Bobby and Finder were total. It was apparent that these two knew each other well and deeply. We observed an unbreakable connection of two strong individuals who trusted and respected each other. They had become comrades, sharing their life’s adventures together.

In his story Bobby had commented on their teamwork by saying, “Although some might not call what Finder does acting, I’ve noticed that he heightens his actions when people are around. He lets me create emotions for him to show, and the expressions on his face make him easy to read. I’ve never seen a more expressive horse.”

Right about that! During a short photo session Finder made a special connection with Linda as he gently placed his head on her shoulder.

Bobby told us that American Humane Association’s Film & TV Unit, which officially oversees hundreds of filmed media productions each year as part to of its “No Animals Were Harmed®” service, often brings new staff to the Lovgren ranch to watch Bobby properly and safely train and work with horses. As we left the Lovgrens and Finder, we felt honored to have met a matchless team of human trainer–and animal teacher.

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors by Robin Ganzert, PhD, and Allen & Linda Anderson with a foreword by “America’s Veterinarian” Marty Becker, DVM, is published by New World Library. It will be released as an e-book on August 19th in major e-book retailers and available in bookstores by September 25, 2014. For details on receiving a free gift with a pre-order of Animal Stars and to see endorsements from Temple Grandin, Naomi Judd, Lisa Vanderpump, Carson Kressley, Jon Turtletraub, Quentin Tarantino, Zac Ephron, and other celebrities, go to www.animalstarsbook.com.

ANGEL CATS, ANGEL DOGS, and DOGS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM Book Signings

We will be signing our books at the following Kowalski’s Markets Twin Cities locations on SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 2014. We look forward to seeing.

DOGS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM

DOGS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM

Allen, Leaf, and Linda

Allen, Leaf, and Linda

Kowalski’s White Bear Lake Market, 10:00 am to Noon
4391 S. Lake Ave.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Kowalski’s Oak Park Heights Market & Wine Shop, 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
5801 Neal Ave. N.
Oak Park Heights, MN 55082

Kowalski’s Grand Avenue Market, 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
1261 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105

IS YOUR PET CONSIDERATE?

We don’t recall seeing articles about animal family members being considerate. There have been some studies showing animal altruism though.

In our home, our cat Cuddles lives up to her name and cuddles up next to Linda at night on our bed. She’s very considerate not to wake up Linda until morning, when she decides it’s time for her breakfast.

Our cockatiel Sunshine is considerate when we use the spray bottle, filled with warm water, to give him his morning bath. He raises his wings so we can spray under them and puts his head down for a good spray of his head feathers.

The reason this theme is on our minds today, though, is that our dog Leaf, one of our life’s greatest spiritual teachers, often shows us consideration. He’s definitely not a – my way or the highway – kind of guy.

Although we mainly do our writing at home, if we need to meet with a client, Linda carefully puts on her makeup to prepare. Sensing that we’re about to leave the house, Leaf is eager to kiss Linda’s face with his long, pink tongue. So Linda says, “Leaf, don’t kiss off all my makeup.” And she turns away so he can’t reach her cheeks.

The other day, it appeared that Leaf got the message. As Linda was ready to leave the house, she bent down to kiss him on his head. In turn, he very carefully kissed her only on the tip of her nose. With great discipline, he put his tongue back in his mouth and refrained from plastering her face with any more kisses.

Considerate.

Have your pets been considerate to you or others? Send us your stories to .

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network — Spiritual Perspectives for People Who Believe Pets Are Family Member
http://www.angelanimals.net

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

ANIMALS IN CHURCH

This week we spoke to a local Rotary Club about the spiritual lessons people can learn from animals. After the talk one of the Rotarians asked us what we thought about animals being allowed in church to attend services. He said, “So many people love their dogs, but the dog has to wait out in the car while the person goes into church. I think they should be allowed inside.”

This reminded us of a story we shared in ANGEL ANIMALS BOOK OF INSPIRATION. Mary Elizabeth Martucci, a retired university administrator from South Bend, Indiana, says that parishioners in her childhood church renewed their relationship with God in a unique way.

One Sunday, Mary’s dog Skippy started attending services. The dog followed the then eight-year-old girl to church, sneaked into the side door, walked down the aisle, lowered himself onto the sanctuary carpet, and observed the service. The congregants watched in awe and amusement. Afterwards, Skippy walked back out the side door.

To Mary’s surprise and relief, the pastor was so impressed with the dog’s respectful demeanor that he allowed Skippy to continue attending services. Skippy’s close attention to the proceedings prompted parishioners to become more mindful and reverential. Mary concluded that her dog had reminded everyone that even an animal could honor his Creator in church on Sundays.

What do you think? Would you like to or do you already attend church with your animal family member?

JANE GOODALL

When women love animals and are determined to express this love, they are invincible in their pursuit. A classic example is scientist, author, and inspirational speaker Jane Goodall. Her love for chimps in the forests of Gombe catapulted her into becoming a respected spokesperson for the protection of endangered species and animal welfare causes.

The pristine forests offered Jane an exquisite peace and tranquility. In a passage from her book REASON FOR HOPE (Warner Books 1999), she writes about what close contact with animals means to her.

“On an open grassy ridge the chimps climbed into a massive mbula tree, where Fifi, replete from the morning’s feasting, made a large comfortable nest high above me. She dozed through a midday siesta, little Fanni asleep in her arms, Frodo and Freud playing nearby. How healing it was to be back at Gombe again, and by myself with the chimpanzees and their forest. I had left the busy, materialistic world so full of greed and selfishness and, for a little while, could feel myself, as in the early days, a part of nature.”

Women turn to animals for comfort, playtime, serenity, unconditional love, and a number of other spiritual qualities they can’t find as readily from any other source. They nourish and rescue animals and receive similar blessings in return from them.

What are animals in your home or in nature giving you the freedom to experience?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network – Where Pets Are Family
www.angelanimals.net