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

ALPHA LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

Excerpted from A DOG NAMED LEAF by Allen Anderson with Linda Anderson, published by Lyons Press, 2012.  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

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.

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.

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

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.

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.

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.

Leaf ‘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 for details about A DOG NAMED LEAF.

OUR NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

A DOG NAMED LEAF

The 2012 memoir A DOG NAMED LEAF about our rescued cocker spaniel and Allen facing life-threatening challenges together, will be on the New York Times Best Sellers list next week (December  21).  Wow! We are letting fans of that book know and we’re getting a lot of heartfelt positive responses.

It’s amazing how many of the comments people have made about the book on Amazon and Facebook mention that they couldn’t put it down. One woman wrote us and was “mad” because she’d only intended to read a couple of chapters at bedtime but was up till 2:00 a.m.

This book was very personal and painful to write and have published. We adopted Leaf from the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley in 2006 when he was one year old.  Previously we had volunteered at the animal shelter. We are grateful that Animal Humane Society did not give up on this abandoned dog and moved him from their Coon Rapids location to Golden Valley in hopes that he would have a better chance of finding a home. Broken and scared, he turned out to have a much tougher time than we anticipated while learning to be in a family (or even inside a house).

There are times in life when one or two years are packed with experiences that normally would happen over decades.  It was that way with Leaf and Allen.  Thankfully, they found each other at exactly the right time. Together, they went through the ups and downs of bonding while walking around Twin City lakes and visiting local dog parks. Leaf was a severely traumatized dog, and Allen was at that time, a former inner city police officer who had closed down emotionally after having too often seen the worst in human nature. Trust turned out to be a big issue for both of them.

Shortly after we adopted Leaf, one of the best neurosurgeons in the country, on staff at a local hospital, operated on Allen to heal an unruptured brain aneurysm that could burst at any time. By then, Leaf and he were two comrades struggling to survive what life was throwing at them.

It took a long time to come to the point of being able to add to our bios: New York Times bestselling authors.  Many writers know how much perseverance and patience is required before having a breakthrough. In this era of YouTube and Instagram and instant gratification, it’s tough for aspiring writers to understand that these types of fame flashes are like winning the lottery and with similar odds.

About halfway through our journey of writing animal-themed books, the pundits were declaring that books were dead. No one was reading anymore. Then e-books came along. Soon, people who hadn’t read a book in years were reading.

So our publisher converted our backlist print books into e-books. The e-books began selling very well and driving people to their print book counterparts. If we hadn’t persevered and continued writing new books over the years, the publishers would have let the old books go out of print, and we would have missed this new era of e-book sales. But we were viable authors who were still building readership and consequently were able to survive during the era when books were supposed to be having their last gasps of breath.

One college freshman came up to us at our book event and was carrying an armful of books. She said she had never read an entire book all through high school. But e-books had gotten her reading again, and she realized what she was missing in her life — books!

Join us in celebrating a milestone.  Check out A DOG NAMED LEAF at http://amzn.to/1Gm0V1V

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree

A Dog Named Leaf in a Tree