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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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

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.

Allen and Linda Anderson performing a reading and book signing at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, MN

We enjoyed our time at Magers and Quinn Booksellers!  We read from A DOG NAMED LEAF and signed books.  We loved talking with the animal lover attendees.

Allen and Linda Anderson at Magers and Quinn Booksellers.

Allen and Linda Anderson at Magers and Quinn Booksellers.

Dogs and the Women Who Love Them

Dogs and the Women Who Love Them

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

Would You Like to Have a Book Coach and Mentor?

Would You Like to Have a Book Coach and Mentor?

Offered by Linda C. Anderson — 25 years of Professional Experience

  • Author of 16 books and 150 articles
  • National award-winning playwright
  • Publicist and media coach
  • Anthology, nonfiction book, novel, and newsletter editor
  • Screenwriter
  • Writing Instructor at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis
  • Winner of an Anderson Center Residency for The Loft’s Outstanding Teacher

“I enjoy helping writers to achieve their dreams and become successful. My experiences with agents, editors, and publicists have taught me much about what publishers are looking for and how to shape material into exciting and fresh presentations. I’ve been fortunate to become knowledgeable about how to write books and proposals that sell. I’ve learned the shortcuts and the pitfalls. After years of having my own work successfully published, I’m eager to coach and mentor others as their books evolve from idea stage to becoming readers’ favorites.”

Visit http://www.writingontherun.com/bookcoach.html for details or write Linda at writingontherun@aol.com

Allen and Linda Anderson

Angel Animals Network – Where Pets Are Family

http://www.angelanimals.net

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week, send a blank message to

AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

***

MAKING SPECIAL TIME FOR YOUR PETS

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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?

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.

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?

Allen and Linda Anderson

Angel Animals Network – Where Pets Are Family

www.angelanimals.net

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week, send a blank message to

AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com