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.”

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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.

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

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

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Awareness Magazine features A DOG NAMED LEAF on the cover.

Allen Anderson and his new book A DOG NAMED LEAF is featured on the cover of Awareness Magazine for the November/December 2012 issue. Included in the magazine is an article about Allen and his work sharing stories about the bond between animals and their people.

A DOG NAMED LEAF featured on the cover of AWARENESS MAGAZINE

A DOG NAMED LEAF featured on the cover of AWARENESS MAGAZINE

We Love Cats Too

Cuddles

Cuddles

WE LOVE CATS TOO

With all our writing about the release of A DOG NAMED LEAF, you may have been wondering if we have forgotten about cats. Never fear. Cats still make us purr. Our sweet little black-and-white kitty Cuddles remains a star in our universe. We treasure her intuitiveness and intelligence but most of all, her kisses.

Our mornings start with Cuddles licking Linda’s fingers a minute before the alarm is set to ring. She’s never been wrong about the fact that it’s time to get up.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, we are grateful for Cuddles and all the other cats who have enriched and blessed our lives — Mugsy, Fiesty, and Speedy. Each of them brought their special gifts and taught us how to be more gracious.

Speaking of gratitude, we have to mention how exciting it was when Allen had the lauch of his new book at Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minnesota last week. The stores’ renowned proprietor, the ever-entertaining and witty Garrison Keillor, stopped by and said hello prior to the event.

Go to http://www.angelanimals.net/nlimage98.html to see a photo of Allen with Garrison. It was a highlight of an evening that was filled with the good wishes of friends and animal lovers. The store donated 10 percent of the book sales that evening to the local shelter Animal Ark, which is one of the nation’s leaders in the no-kill movement.

If you have read A DOG NAMED LEAF, it would be a wonderful support to us if you would log on to Amazon.com, search for the book by title, write a short comment to say what you loved about the book, and gave it five stars. With hundreds of thousands of animal books for people to enjoy, reader comments mean a lot as someone is deciding to buy a book or request it from a library. Thank you in advance for your help.

What in life, especially in relation to animals, are you grateful for?

Please share your comments, answers to the question, and photos on Angel Animals Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/angelanimalsnetwork or http://www.facebook.com/adognamedleaf and “Like” Angel Animals and A Dog Named Leaf.

This week’s story is about Simon, a 10-year-old cat born with a spinal deformity who has been a registered therapy animal since 2009. He was recently awarded the Colorado Animal Hero Award in the service category for his outstanding therapy work.

We encourage you to e-mail this newsletter in its entirety to your animal-loving friends and encourage them to sign up for our weekly publication. They will be joining a terrific community of thousands of like-minded people from around the world. We do not sell to or share our newsletter subscriber list with anyone.

Animal blessings,
Allen & Linda Anderson

 

HERO DOG AWARDS

HERO DOG AWARDS

HERO DOG AWARDS

HERO DOG AWARDS

Last weekend, October 6, we had the honor and fun of attending American Humane Association’s Second Annual Hero Dog Awards at the Beverly Hilton in California. The weekend’s events started on Friday evening with a VIP reception where we got to meet American Humane’s president and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. She and board member Steve Dale wrote the foreword for our book, ANIMALS AND THE KIDS WHO LOVE THEM, but we’d never met them in person until that night.

Saturday, Dr. Ganzert had invited us to walk the red carpet and be their guest at the award show. Betty White, a former board member of American Humane, received a special award to honor her years of devotion to helping animals. Eight dogs, voted on by the millions of people from around the world, were finalists in various categories such as therapy dog, military dog, K-9 dog, and service dog. That night, the winner was announced – Gabe, a combat-seasoned US Army NCO whose ability to sniff out bombs in Iraq saved hundreds of lives.

We were also thrilled to meet Judy Fridono and Ricochet whose story is in our book DOGS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM. Judy and Ricochet were Hero Dog finalists last year. Ricochet has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities by surfing in the ocean. More about her inspiring contributions at http://www.surfdogricochet.com/

Visit http://www.angelanimals.net/recentevents.html to see photos of us at the event.

Do you have a hero dog or cat or horse or rabbit or any other kind of animal who has helped you or others?

Please share your comments and answers to the questions on Angel Animals Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/angelanimalsnetwork or http://www.facebook.com/adognamedleaf and “Like” Angel Animals and A Dog Named Leaf. We will also have the questions posted on the Angel Animals Facebook page.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
http://www.angelanimals.net