[New World Library]
Interview with authors Allen & Linda Anderson
How did you get started collecting and publishing stories about the spiritual connection between people and animals? Why do you call yourselves a “golden team”?
In 1996, we were walking around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis with our yellow Labrador Taylor. She had a big grin on her face. People kept stopping to ask if we knew our dog was smiling. We thought about how much joy she and our other animals were bringing to us. We started listing spiritual qualities we were gaining by observing and living with our pets – love, gratitude, creativity, joy. We wondered if other people felt they were learning spiritual lessons from animals. After the walk, we went home and made up a flyer to put around town and we posted questions on Internet animal chat groups. We asked: Are you learning spiritual lessons from animals? Have you ever had a dream with an animal? Do you think animals go to heaven? Within 60 days we had hundreds of responses from all over the world. We knew we had to share these wonderfully inspiring stories of animals as spiritual beings.
We call ourselves a golden team because at this time, we were in mid-life with an empty nest and our children grown. We wanted to do something with the rest of our lives that would build upon the love we have for each other and also bring more love into the world. Founding the Angel Animals Network and writing the Angel Animals series of books allowed us to blend our interest in spirituality, our caring for animals, and our love as a married couple. To us, that equals golden.
We always think that people choose animals to adopt, but you have a story about a dog who chose the person. How did that happen?
In “Abbie Knew Best” Donna Francis, a deaf-education teacher and animal-assisted therapy volunteer from Savoy, Texas, was literally tapped on the shoulder several times at the animal shelter where she volunteered by a “spider dog” poodle. She had all kinds of preconceived notions about what kind of dog she wanted to adopt and that it had to be a girl. She decided that this ugly puppy must be a sign for her to adopt from his litter. The night before the adoption would be made, Donna dreamed of the ugly puppy all night. The next day, she came to pick up her new girl pup and saw that the ugly guy was now a girl. The dog had been sexed wrong at intake. She quickly switched gears and adopted Abbie, the dog who had chosen her. Abbie went on to become a champion therapy dog recognized with an award by the Delta Society. Donna learned an important life lesson about being open to life’s signals and that it’s not a one-way street when choosing an animal.
It’s well documented that animals are good for your health. What about the ferret who transformed the life of an autistic child?
In “Ferrets Are Made of God” Rebecca Stout from Hixon, Tennessee reveals how a special ferret named Rocky caused her autistic son Sean to relate to his first pet and later, to become the hero of his Little League baseball team. The family had tried other types of pets for Sean, but nothing worked out. The relationship with Rocky became Sean’s first opportunity to communicate with another being freely and to take on responsibility. His life turned around with Rocky’s love bringing out the best in him and as mascot for his baseball team, became the lucky charm who helped them win the city championship. One day, Sean asked Rebecca, who is not a very religious person, what ferrets are made of. Before she could answer, Sean said, “Ferrets are made of God.” Rebecca concluded that her son was right.
How have animals helped people heal? Isn’t there a story in your book about a hamster who brought about the healing of an entire school?
In “A Hamster’s Legacy” Ruby M. Hanna, a retired teacher from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, recounts the remarkable story of a hamster named Wee Boy who brought inner city school children on a life-changing journey from hate to love and from deprivation to experiencing the fullness of life. After Ruby brought Wee Boy to school as a classroom project, her ordinarily rough and jaded fifth-graders were smitten. The act of caring for the hamster, who turned out to be a female and had babies, caused the children to behave and dress better. It also helped them to open up about their own families and tragedies. Soon, the entire school was using the techniques that were transforming Ruby’s children into nurturing, inquisitive students.
What can we learn from the story of a dolphin who loved the hymn “Amazing Grace”?
In “Amazing Grace and the Dolphin” Sierra Goodman, from Miami, Florida and president of Vida Marina Foundation of Costa Rica, a marine sanctuary that protects twenty-five species of dolphins and whales around Drake Bay, shares the remarkable story of a beached dolphin. The dolphin’s plight brought a community of volunteers and rescuers together over a couple of days. Grace responded with trust as the rescuers sang the hymn “Amazing Grace” to her. They managed to aid Grace’s return to the sea on the waves of love emanating from this beautiful hymn.
Do you have hero stories in this book? What about the cat who saved a little girl from a fire?
In “Kabootle, Our Rescue Cat” Lauren L. Merryfield of Marysville, Washington, editor of CATLINES, tells about the time when she left for work in a hurry and forgot food boiling on the stove. Her daughter Lynden, asleep in bed, didn’t hear the smoke alarm beeping. Kabootle meowed and pawed Lynden until the little girl woke up. She ran into the kitchen to find smoke billowing from the stove. Kabootle’s persistent courage kept Lynden and their other cat from perishing in a house fire.