Animal Persistence Pays Off
By Allen and Linda Anderson
When we started the Angel AnimalsŪ Foundation, we tried to be realistic about how long it would take to make a dent in the world's consciousness with our message. Our goal is to help people recognize animals as spiritual partners on this planet, spiritual beings who demonstrate qualities such as unconditional love, courage, and joy. Through the power of inspiring stories, we hope to help humans realize animals are precious gifts. Stories, we believe, will change attitudes as has happened with Aesop's fables and Jesus' parables. Stories touch people's hearts as nothing else can. When they're told in songs, poetry, books, articles, films, stage plays, or visual arts, stories cause people to stop, reflect, and try new courses of action.
We've estimated that it will take at least ten years to get a firm footing for the Angel AnimalsŪ Foundation. By then we intend to be regularly distributing to media and publications the thousands of stories we're collecting from around the world. It will take much time, effort, resources, and most of all, persistence. We don't think attitudes toward animals will change drastically in our lifetimes, but we and our earth and animal-loving brothers and sisters, will eventually raise consciousness, even if only a little. The next generations will continue and succeed with projects many from our generation have begun.
Every day we receive letters from people who love animals and are trying to help them. Their graphic accounts of animal cruelty bring tears to our eyes. We sometimes find it difficult to accept that changing attitudes and behavior on a massive scale takes a very long time. Then we remember that "angel animals" in our own family are teaching us spiritual lessons. Their persistence and creativity remind us to always be seeking new, fresh ways for serving life.
Each morning we take our two cockatiels, Sunshine and Sparkle, out of their cage and put them on the fireplace mantel. There they eat some food from their bowl, take a bath in the tray of warm water we put out for them, and reflect on their images in the wall mirror. Then the birds walk to either end of the mantel to look out the windows and groom their feathers. Usually Linda is eating breakfast at the table while Sunshine and Sparkle go through their rituals. When Sparkle is finished with her mantel time, she flies over to read the morning paper.
Since Linda is still trying to decipher the day's news and doesn't want holes poked into the paper by Sparkle's beak, she stops eating, puts her finger under the bird's feet, and escorts Sparkle back to the mantel. In about thirty seconds persistent Sparkle circles the living room once again and lands right back on the morning newspaper, taking a few pecks out of it before Linda can stop her. This game goes for a few more rounds. Finally Linda gives up and lets Sparkle peck at the Sports page. Sparkle demonstrates that persistence pays off.
Sparkle's mate, Sunshine, also has a game he loves to play with hapless humans. He starts a whistling contest. First he whistles a few simple notes and waits for his human counterpart to whistle the identical tune back to him. Then he makes the tune more complex. By the time his competitor concedes defeat, Sunshine's tune has become an arpeggio with riffs and syncopation that a human whistler could never duplicate. His creativity and sense of humor (we're sure he's getting a good laugh out of this) remind us which species has a superior short-term memory.
Cuddles, our kitten, sleeps on our bed at night. She positions her body either between us on alongside Linda. No matter how much we toss and turn or what pretzel positions we assume, Cuddles finds a way to snuggle. We often discuss how this little wonder with her white paws and winsome ways will not leave our side, night after night. Surely she could sleep more peacefully by herself. But she gives a wonderful example of how love is motivation for staying the course.
Taylor, our yellow Labrador retriever, always figures out how to get a good sniff of whatever we've been eating. Whenever we put plates on our coffee table, Taylor knows she's not supposed to stick her nose in humans' food. After she's certain we've finished eating, she gets her favorite chew-toy and just happens to toss it on the coffee table near our plates. Now if, while retrieving her toy, she happens to catch a good sniff of leftover food on the plates, it's not really her fault, is it? She's tried many ploys to achieve this goal, but through persistence and creativity, she's finally hit on a means to her end. In the process she's reminded us to fine-tune our own out-of-the-box thinking.
Last but not least, our cat Speedy has a habit that warms our hearts. When we sit on the couch to read or watch television, it's Speedy's habit to lie on the sofa above us, stretch out his paw, and gently touch our shoulders. He holds this paw in place, purring softly, and knighting us with his tenderness.
Animals Show the Way
Could the animals in your life be providing examples of persistence and creativity that would help you achieve your goals?
The stories we've shared in this article aren't merely amusing antics of the Anderson animal family. We view the animals in our home as messengers who remind us of God's constant love. These animals are our spiritual benefactors who happen to be wearing cat, dog, and bird bodies.
When we receive letters and phone calls from people, who grieve and rage over the callous and abusive treatment of God's creatures, we feel impatient. Our animal companions, who dedicate their lives to helping us help their brothers and sisters, constantly remind us to keep bringing more love and light into this world. Without words, they teach us to never give up. They help us remember to be creative and flexible. They show us that when love and service are our motivators, miracles are possible.
Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of the Angel AnimalsŪ Newsletter. For a free sample or to submit stories, e-mail to Angelanimals@aol.com or write to P.O. Box 26488, Minneapolis, MN 55426. The Anderson's new book, "Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals" (A Plume Book), is available in local and Internet bookstores. The Angel AnimalsŪ Web site is www.angelanimals.com . Donations to the nonprofit Angel AnimalsŪ Foundation are gratefully accepted. For more information call (612) 925-3309.
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