Who is in charge of keeping you in balance when your life fills up with too many to-do list items?

Who tells you it is time to play?

The truth of the matter is – we are working too hard and putting in too many hours on the next books. But we have barometers in our home who tell us that. They are named Leaf, Cuddles, and Sunshine.

A Dog Named Leaf

A Dog Named Leaf

Cuddles

Cuddles

Sunshine

Sunshine

Leaf, our dog, brings his ball and drops it at our feed and tells us to throw it for him. Cuddles, the little cat, vocalizes with a scolding tone of voice. Sunshine, the bird, screeches more than usual but also sings his song if one of us spends quality time with him.  He is giving us positive reinforcement to play with him too.

Everybody joins in the chorus to let us know that it is time to rest, time to take a break, time to play.

Who is in charge of keeping you in balance when your life fills up with too many to-do list items?

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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?

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.

ANIMAL STARS: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL ACTORS

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation

“Every movie fan who loves to see animals in their favorite movies will want to read Animal Stars. The book contains lots of animal-training tips, along with the behind-the-scenes stories.”
Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation

AMERICAN HUMANE ASSOCIATION’S NEW BOOK “ANIMAL STARS: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL ACTORS” FEATURING STAR-STUDDED TALES OF HOLLYWOOD’S LEGENDARY ACTORS FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM TO BE PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 25th

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Due to overwhelming popular demand, e-book edition to be released on August 19th; Every book purchased between now and September 30th comes with free gift!

Washington, D.C., August 14, 2014 – Since the dawn of Hollywood, animal actors have played some of the most unforgettable characters ever seen on the silver screen. Their characters have charmed and delighted moviegoers and television audiences for generations, and now, American Humane Association, the first national humane organization, is pleased to announce that its new book “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes With Your Favorite Animal Actors,” will be published by New World Library on September 25th. Written by American Humane Association’s President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert and Allen and Linda Anderson, the husband-and-wife founders of the Angel Animals Network, and featuring a foreword by “America’s Veterinarian” Dr. Marty Becker, “Animal Stars” offers unprecedented access to the fascinating, hidden world of animals and animal trainers in today’s film and television industry — and the celebrities they work with.

Ever wonder how a cat learned to flush a toilet on camera (Meet the Fockers)? Or why the dog Uggie was accused of stealing every scene he was in in The Artist, including on the red carpet? From Joey in War Horse to the wolves in Game of Thrones, what we see on-screen is only the tip of the iceberg. The heartwarming stories in “Animal Stars” reveal the trainers, actors, directors, and, of course, dogs, cats, horses, birds, and more in their behind-the-scenes glory. Readers will discover that certain animal stars have diva tendencies, while others have rags-to-riches backstories, and that directors and actors stretch professional boundaries to create emotional ties with their nonhuman coworkers.

Whether penguins, horses, mixed-breed rescue dogs, or lynxes, the animals on set are as lovable, personality-filled, and at times frustrating as the animals in our own homes. World-class Hollywood animal trainers offer bonus tips for training pets after each chapter, and film icons like Steven Spielberg, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, and Hailee Steinfeld share personal recollections about working with the animal stars who stole their hearts.

This book features unprecedented access to the Hollywood stars from the animal kingdom that only an organization with nearly 150 years’ experience of protecting the nation’s children and animals like American Humane Association could provide. “Animal Stars” will be published on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the organization’s “No Animals Were Harmed®” Program, which has overseen the protection of literally millions of animal actors on thousands of movie and television sets around the world since 1940. The “No Animals Were Harmed®” Program, the only industry-sanctioned program with oversight of animals in filmed production, has made the protection of animal actors its duty and charter.

“Animal actors have been delighting audiences for more than a century, and I know that some of my earliest and fondest memories from when I was kid have to do with those animals I saw in Disney movies and watched on TV,” said Dr. Ganzert. “This book is my love letter to Hollywood’s beloved animal stars, and I know readers will have a newfound admiration for the hard work and dedication that these animals and their trainers undergo to bring these spectacular roles to life on screen.”

Though it’s still more than a month until publication date, “Animal Stars” has already received rave reviews and is currently on both the Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble Booksellers bestseller lists. Due to this overwhelming popular demand, New World Library has agreed to make the e-book edition of the book available on August 19 to 11 major e-book retail partners, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, and Kobo. As an added bonus, all books ordered between now and September 30 come with a free gift – your choice of a commemorative “Animal Stars” tote bag or coffee mug!

Ganzert and some of the special animal stars featured in the book will be hitting the road this fall as part of a special national book signing tour, with dates already booked in Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, Boston, and more to be announced very soon!

For more information about “Animal Stars,” including book signing tour dates; special videos from Hollywood directors Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, and Cameron Crowe on the important work of the “No Animals Were Harmed®” Program; and information on how to receive the special free gift with every book ordered by September 30, please visit www.animalstarsbook.com.

American Humane

American Humane

About American Humane Association

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors

Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors

Send in the Cows

SEND IN THE COWS
By Monica O’Kane

Reprinted with permission from ANGEL ANIMALS BOOK OF INSPIRATION, pp.39-41 (New World Library 2009, softcover, $14.95 retail, ISBN# 978-1-57731-666-4, 235 pages). All rights reserved. www.angelanimalsbookofinspiration.com

One afternoon, while visiting a farm and standing in its pasture, I was bursting with anguish over a personal relationship. My head drooped. My shoulders were crushed with a ten-ton block of grief. Tears flooded my face and soaked my shirt. I pleaded silently, “Somebody please be with me!”

Then, though my watery veil, I saw a herd of about fifteen cows and calves coming out of the woods. Feeling cut off from all human support, I welcomed their presence. Slowly but steadily, the whole herd advanced. At first I feared they were going to chase me out of their pasture, but then I realized that they didn’t seem menacing. Some cows walked a wide berth around me and came up from behind. Others ambled straight toward me.

I’ve been in a pasture with cows before, but none had ever approached me. They’d usually wander timidly away unless a farmer with feed was nearby. But these cows completely encircled me. They each stopped when they came within five feet, seeming to sense what would be comfortable for me. I felt no panic. Instead, I found myself being strangely consoled.

To my surprise, a white-faced cow halted directly in front of me. I watched, transfixed, as a tear formed in one of her eyes and spilled down the side of her nose. At first, I wondered if the cow might have an infection, but when I looked into her eyes I saw that they were perfectly healthy. I concluded that this cow could be empathetic – sympathizing with me as I shed my own tears in her pasture.

Gradually my heaving sobs subsided into noisy gulps. Eventually I cried silently. Meanwhile, the cows seemed to form a barrier between the cause of my turmoil and me. I’d fruitlessly hoped that humans would comfort me this way. In answer to my plea, I’d been visited by a herd of cows. After they moved away, I felt a peaceful calm wash over me.

A year later, in the midst of praying, I suddenly remembered the farm animals who had so unexpectedly visited me in the pasture. I realized that God had been answering my prayer. God was saying, “Don’t you remember that collective cow hug I sent you a year ago? I directed my creatures to you, but you didn’t recognize my touch, my love. Today you do. But then I ministered to you in your isolated agony through the cows.”

I felt gratitude for the bovine hug that had relieved my sadness and reassured me that I’m never alone.

BIO:
“Monica O’Kane lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a wife, mother of eight, grandmother of sixteen, and great-grandmother of one. She is the author of HEY, MOM, I’M HOME AGAIN! Strategies for Parents & Grown Children Who Live Together (Marlor Press, 1992). She is a child-rearing activist who focuses on childbirth and breastfeeding. In 2001 Monica traveled to Romania to work in a soup kitchen for two weeks because the homeless children there had caught her interest.”

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
“Has an animal used an unusual way to help you feel less alone or abandoned?”

 

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

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

Is it Possible to Be Too Attached to an Animal Companion?

Because we live in a land with four seasons and an awesomely cold winter, one of our favorite pastimes is to relax in our living room with a roaring fire in the fireplace. Our dog lies on the carpet, gnawing on a chew toy. Kitty, Cuddles, sleeps next to the lamp. Sunshine, our cockatiel, whistles his latest musical creation. And our Lion King cat, Speedy, amuses himself (and us) by sitting in front of the television set to watch his favorite television programs on the Animal Planet channel. We look at each other and feel blessed to live in a home filled with love and contentment.

How many other households have a similar makeup of animal individuals? All filling an important, integral part of a loving family unit. Through the many letters, phone calls, and e-mails we receive from our Angel Animal friends around the world, we suspect the numbers would surprise even the census takers.

Recently we decided to pose an interesting question in our online Angel Animals Newsletter. Although most of us animal lovers view our pets as members of the family, we asked if it is possible to become too attached to an animal companion.  If so, what are the warning signs?

One reader thought that a warning sign of becoming obsessively attached or having a deeper emotional problem was when people cut themselves off from any human companionship. She wrote, “People who have more of an interest in animals should at least try to help out at their local animal shelter, join a breed-rescue group, or try to socialize animals to visit nursing homes/hospitals so that others benefit from their love of animals.”

Some readers thought that there are other example of becoming overly attached to animals or confusing love with neediness. They gave examples of someone who takes on more animals than he or she can handle. For example, a person can’t give enough individual attention to dozens of cats who all need vet visits, food, litter, and a clean environment. Or someone loves horses but doesn’t have the pastureland, food, or time to groom and exercise them.

Readers also thought that excessive grieving could be an indication of a person’s greater feelings of isolation. One reader wrote that she took a year off work when her animal companion died. During that time, though, she channeled her grief into rescuing over forty dogs and finding new homes for them.

Robin wrote the following letter to express her opinion that being too attached to animals is a difficult thing to judge.

“People have many different reasons for turning to their animal companions for love and validation. There may have been a time when I myself might have fallen into this category. As I struggled through years of infertility and pregnancy loss, my pet rabbits became the children that I couldn’t give birth to. I took the loss of my pets very hard, and it affected me deeply in ways I felt not many people understood.

“It is easy to displace our feelings onto our pets, and they are more than willing to receive our attention and devotion. I’m one who can completely understand a deeper connection with an animal companion. I think we all have a need to feel needed and necessary. Sometimes we hit rough areas in our lives that aren’t being filled by the humans in our world and often turn to animal companions to fill our emotional needs. I have found that instead of becoming isolated, my animal companions kept me connected to the world.

“I am not able to make a spiritual distinction between a human companion and an animal companion. In my heart the love, given and received, feels the same. So I suppose my answer to the question would be that I don’t feel it’s possible to become ‘too’ attached to an animal companion.

Along the same lines as Robin above, Jenny says that being attached is what love is all about.  She writes, “I delight in caring for my Tabby cat, Rico. He was pet-of-the-week in our local newspaper and is like my child. I love him and am very attached. When we go out of town on trips, I have his personal pet sitter, whom he loves very much, come and stay in our home with him. Rico is always there for me to hug. He never upsets me; he always calms me.”

Comfort in Our Uncertain Times

Are these tense and trying times contributing to our need to find comfort in the arms (and wings) of our animal companions?

Patti Ann writes, “NO, I do not believe anyone can become too attached to an animal companion. I feel that the world is becoming a colder, meaner, and less trusting place to live our lives everyday. Unfortunately today, most people are not trustworthy, do not have any ethical standards that they live by, and are basically selfish.

“How many people do you know who will still greet you with great enthusiasm, if you woke up in the morning with your hair sticking out all over the place, bags under your eyes (or wrinkle cream still white on your face like a ghost), looking like a beast from under the sea, bad breath, grumpy as all the dickens? Or if that’s too physical, what if you were dirt-poor homeless? Animals would still honor and love you as if you were a king or queen and stay with you till the dying end!”

In the end the answer to questions about attachments to animals seems to be answered by asking further questions. Does your relationship with an animal keep you away from friends, family, work, play, hobbies, or responsibilities such as taking care of kids, jobs, foods, health? Is your life in balance? Do you have a spiritual understanding of the animal as an individual spark of God who must develop his or her own personality and may have needs that are different from yours? Rather than offering solace and comfort, has your relationship with an animal companion become a way of avoiding the problems in your life? How well adjusted and content are the animals in your care? Are you able to give them the time and attention they need?

One thing we’ve concluded is that only you can decide what is excessive. Other people, especially those who have never bonded with an animal, don’t have the right to judge how much you love, how much you grieve, or how much you need. If you’re not hurting yourself or any other animal or person, then it’s really no one’s business that a cat or dog or rabbit or iguana means the world to you. On the other hand, if you’re hearing from EVERYBODY that you’ve gone overboard, you might want to at least consider finding other outlets for your love and devotion-including taking excellent care of yourself and the human relationships in your life.

What do you think? Is it possible to become too attached to an animal?
Allen and Linda Anderson
ANGEL ANIMALS NETWORK
www.angelanimals.net