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.”

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?

A Note of Appreciation to Our Angel Animals Blog Readers

As we approach the Christmas holidays and New Year, we want to thank everyone who has been part of our lives in 2014. We feel deep and sincere gratitude for friends and family who have been at our sides during challenging times as well as with us to celebrate the highlights of this year.

One of the big highlights was co-authoring ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors with Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of American Human. What an exciting experience that was for us.

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

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

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

The book features a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of Hollywood’s favorite animal actors. It features moving stories from Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, animal trainers, and more!

We travelled to Hollywood to meet and interview trainers who shared their personal experiences with the animal actors featured in the book. The trainers and American Humane Association’s Film & TV Unit were all very gracious and welcoming. When we visited the trainers’ and animals’ homes, ranches, and facilities, we observed that animal actors and their people showed a deep love and respect for each other in what appeared to be much more than a merely professional relationship.

Robin Ganzert

Robin Ganzert Hosting the Hero Dogs Awards

Another 2014 highlight was our visit to the ANIMAL STARS book launch party at Fox Studios in Hollywood and the American Human Association’s Hero Dogs Awards at the Los Angeles Beverly Hilton. What amazing events. Wow! As you can see in the images, we had a blast with hundreds of people and heroic animals who attended.

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

Animal Stars Book Launch

ANIMAL STARS Book Launch

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Animal Stars

A DOG NAMED LEAF

The New York Times Best Seller — A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF – “Didn’t see that coming!”

What if something really good happens, totally unexpected, and gives hard-working writers hope that anything is possible? Well, something did happen to us in 2014.

Our 2012 memoir A DOG NAMED LEAF about Allen and our rescued cocker spaniel facing life-threatening challenges together made it on to the December 21, 2014 New York Times Best Sellers list!

A DOG NAMED LEAF was very personal book for us to write (and live). We wondered how people would respond to its deeply spiritual experiences and themes. It was our truth, though, and we shared more of our personal lives in this book than in any other writing we have done or that has been written about us.

Linda and Leaf

Linda and Leaf

Leaf and Allen

Leaf and Allen

Leaf

Leaf

To give a glimmer of the gratitude readers of this book have expressed, below is one of the over 60 Amazon.com 4- and 5-star comments.

“My vet gave me a copy of this book. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down! I’m a groomer, and the story told about Leaf and his visits at the groomer’s always comes to mind when I am grooming a difficult dog. (I groom a lot of rescue dogs.) I have loaned my book out to many people and also recommended it to many people. When they read it, their response is always the same as mine: They couldn’t put it down either! This book would make a great gift. I’m buying a second book to donate to our next silent auction to raise money for our local rescue dogs! Hugs and smooches to Leaf!” –Pam

We appreciate Lyon’s Press/Rowman & Littlefield Publishing for the creative work and strategies they used to make it possible for a whole new set of readers to find our book.

A DOG NAMED LEAF

The New York Times Best Seller — A DOG NAMED LEAF

Thanks to those who have read A DOG NAMED LEAF. We love it when you share your thoughts and reactions to the book in emails, social media posts, and customer reviews at online booksellers.

HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY and A HAPPY 2015 NEW YEAR.

–Allen and Linda

Finder with Allen and Linda Anderson

Finder with Allen and Linda Anderson

A DOG NAMED LEAF IN A TREE

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

LEAF IN A TREE

“Oh, my God! There’s a dog in the tree!” one of three teenage girls yelled with disbelief, as the trio walked past us. When they saw the dog, the other two teens called almost in unison, “Oh, my God!” as they all gawked upward.

Our cocker spaniel Leaf and we were at our regular Saturday morning spot, sitting on the soft white sand, viewing the great Mississippi river as it slowly flowed past. This was our quiet time to reflect on our week and what lay ahead.

Our Saturday spot is in the middle of 12 acres of a heavily wooded forest with many walking trails–all existing for dogs. It has an official name, but we call it DOG PARK HEAVEN, the BEST dog park ever.

Near where we always sit on the beach, a large fallen oak tree with ample branches thrusts toward the river. The incline is low enough that Leaf feels comfortable climbing upward, high onto its limb. Upon reaching his destination, he lies down on the thick branch. Then he places his most precious procession, an orange bouncy ball, between his two front paws. With the ball in its proper place, he relaxes and observes all the activities beneath him. This is HIS spot where no dog or human can reach him.

As the people and their canines strolled down the beach one Saturday, some, like the teenagers, noticed Leaf. Most of the time people made their statement about the dog in the tree in a monotone voice as if trying to be cool about such a strange sight. It was as if they were saying, “The tree has leaves.”

Some asked, “Is that your dog?” Linda replied, “Yes, he likes heights. He must have been a cat in a previous life.”

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

With those additional details each person continued to stare at Leaf as he or she slowly approached the tree. With a slight moment of hesitation, they continued walking under the branch while Leaf looked down at them, probably thinking, “They won’t get my ball.”

A few times, passing dogs would also look skyward and see Leaf. Some glared at him when they realized he was not a squirrel. The big dogs looked horrified that a smaller dog would dare be higher than they. “It’s just not natural,” they seemed to be thinking. Other dogs noticed that Leaf had something between his paws. Could it be a ball?

With perfect timing, suddenly and with purpose, Leaf repeatedly showed the dogs that he, in fact, had his own ball. “See! Look at me! Mine!” While he actively chomped on his ball, no canine considered taking the challenge of climbing high to swipe it.

Maybe people were double-checking to make sure what they saw was real and could now be part of their expanded worldview of what dogs do. Maybe the dogs looked back at Leaf to ponder a day when they might get the ball Leaf guarded. After all, it was as if he was mocking them by proudly displaying his prize.

As it turns out, Leaf had a plan of action outside of teasing the dogs below him with a ball they could never capture. He wanted to show off how macho he was or maybe display his intelligence. Using advanced strategic planning, he carefully evaluated potential foes. With amazing timing he threw his ball downward to the beach as his chosen mark approached.

Leaf chose dogs who were totally unaware of his presence above them. With delight and ecstasy, the dogs couldn’t believe their good luck. A ball had dropped from the sky, a gift from the heavens, a toy to enjoy. This was truly DOG PARK HEAVEN!

At the chosen one’s moment of greatest gratitude and vulnerability, Leaf swooped down from his high perch, also appearing to have fallen from the sky. Eye-to-eye with the chosen canine, he quickly chomped on the orange ball and ran with it back up the tree. There, he safely watched the dog’s disappointment and bewilderment that the unexpected gift had been taken away only seconds after being offered.

As we relaxed at our spot on the beach, watching The Leaf Show, dogs slowly walked over to us to say hello. We gentle caressed their heads or ears and told each of our visitors how beautiful he or she was.

This game Leaf played with unsuspecting dogs continued for weeks until one Saturday when we all experienced a profound change. As usual, Leaf displayed his total joy in being back at Dog Park Heaven. We slowly walked down the long winding trail to the Mississippi river and found our regular spot. While we sat in the soft cool sand, Leaf climbed his tree, holding his orange ball in his mouth and rooting himself into his high spot. All was right with the world.

Soon after we relaxed, one dog, then two, then four rushed over to scale Leaf’s exclusive tree branch. Word had gotten out. Was this a dog version of text messaging or inner social media, ending up with a flash mob? Leaf’s personal domain now had uninvited visitors. Big dogs, small dogs, wet and dirty dogs of all sizes formed packs and were invading HIS tree. Tensely he gripped the ball in his mouth, guarding it against those who dared occupy his branch of safety and personal refuge.

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

Consciousness had expanded. The traditional dog park with noses sniffing close to ground had vanished. Traditional canine experience was no longer limited. Humans were delighted and amazed that their dogs could now go high. With nervous laughter they said things such as, “Look at her! I didn’t know she could do that!” Placing limitations on their companions was no longer as easy as previously.

Leaf too had to become accustomed to a new dog park reality. Observing the world from above can be fun but his high spot was no longer unreachable. As a result, he began coming down to earth more often to mix it up, play with other dogs, and have us throw his ball to chase and retrieve.

What did the three of us learn?

Sometimes life breaks through seemingly unbreakable boundaries we have place upon ourselves — fixed notions of what individuals are capable of doing and being. Yet neither dog-made nor man-created limitations are absolute.

What have the animals in your life taught you about possibilities?

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

Visit <http://www.angelanimals.net/nlimage118.html&gt; to view Leaf in a tree.

Animal Tracks — Exotic Wildlife Rescue

We visited this wonderful exotic animal rescue non-profit organization in Southern California. They do terrific work. Here’s more about “Animal Tracks”.

https://api.indiegogo.com/projects/animal-tracks-exotic-animal-nonprofit

Allen at Animal Tracks

Allen hugs a baboon at nonprofit Animal Tracks exotic rescue.

Nonprofit Animal Tracks

Linda pets a sweet baboon at Animal Tracks exotic animal rescue

ORPHANS OF KATRINA, Book Review by Allen & Linda Anderson, Angel Animals Network

As we are nearing the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005 and the city’s levees breaking on August 30, a new book takes us back to the largest animal rescue operation in history. ORPHANS OF KATRINA by Karen O’Toole is a remarkable account of the author’s experiences while spending four months volunteering as an animal rescuer. She also served for several subsequent months by helping evacuees find lost pets.

Karen writes, “No one asked what it felt like to walk through vast suburbs, thick with homes, yet never find another person, never see a car move, never hear a bird chirp. No one asked what it was like to sleep on the toxic hot pavement of a parking lot with armed military guards all around so that you wouldn’t be killed at night. And most importantly, no one asked what it was like to live in a city full of entombed, dying pets unseen in the houses and apartments surrounding you. It was a citywide guessing game and we were losing. What was it like? What was it really like? No one asked.”

Karen has answered all those questions and many more with a book that has the pace and drama of a thriller. It chronicles in gripping narrative and through compelling photos the highs and lows of her gritty experiences. It truly is a book that every animal lover will want to read.

For our book, RESCUED: SAVING ANIMALS FROM DISASTER, we interviewed Karen and hundreds of others who searched for animals and reunited them with their families. We were able to touch upon many aspects of the animal rescue operation that was marked by chaos and passion. People who went to serve on the Gulf Coast told us that by reading our book they learned things about what was going on in other parts of the disaster area that they hadn’t heard while working down there.

Karen’s book, however, goes into great depth about the experiences of these animal rescue heroes. It takes readers on an unforgettable journey of a lifetime. Karen is an excellent, award-winning writer. Her book will keep you turning the pages.

We applaud Karen for telling and sharing these stories of animal rescue. Books like this make it less likely that animals will ever be left behind again. ORPHANS OF KATRINA deserves to be read widely. It will help to bring about changes in policy and practice. The book compellingly illustrates that it is imperative for human and animal families to be kept together through disasters and emergencies.

Visit www.orphansofkatrina.com for more about ORPHANS OF KATRINA.

Helping Animal Welfare Organizations

We continue to look for ways of doing more to help animal rescue and animal welfare organizations. While we already donate a portion of all our proceeds to nonprofit charities, send baskets of books for silent auctions, and speak at fundraising events, we want to expand our outreach and support.

We’re looking for corporate sponsors that want to reach the animal lovers who follow our work and read our books. Our goal is to find like-minded people in the corporate world who would get involved with us in helping nonprofit animal charities. If you have contacts in major corporations who might want to support Angel Animals in its charitable outreach goals, be sure to email us with your suggestions and ideas.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net
angelanimals@aol.com

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