Animal-Human Teamwork
By Allen and Linda Anderson



Over the years that we have written about the spiritual connections between people and animals, we've noticed the partnerships that are immensely beneficial to people, animals, and the earth. Human-animal teamwork might take the form of alerting people to an imminent earthquake, as is done in parts of China, becoming a search-and-rescue unit, helping children become better readers, or a host of other activities.

Whatever the task or gift of service, the bond between humans and animals seems to spill over with love that affects the world and the environment in positive ways.

Lois Roworth, a kinesiologist from Australia, wrote a story for an edition of our Angel Animals Story of the Week. Lois shared how she teamed up with a cat and together they saved her husband's life.

"My husband Peter is a horrendous snorer. We joke to people that we have never spent a night together in the same bed since we have been married nearly six years ago. His snores are deep and so loud that even with earplugs in, I can still hear each one thundering away. As a consequence, I would leave and sleep in the spare room or else kick him out of bed.

"Much to the amusement and curiosity of our friends and family, when we built our own home and moved in, we each had our own bedroom. Our cat family is composed of Aslan, the big red Persian, Missy, our Norwegian forest cat, and Fuschia, the baby Persian. Each of them has their own rooms too. My bedroom is three rooms away from my husband's, yet I could still hear him snoring when I got up to go to the bathroom or for a glass of water.

"About one year ago, Peter started complaining to me that Aslan was jumping on the bed in the middle of the night and waking him by clawing at his chest. This, of course, would wake and annoy Peter greatly and he would push Aslan off of the bed. Most nights, Peter would just get back to sleep until Aslan would be there again clawing at his chest to wake him up.

"This went on for weeks. Frustrated, Peter was starting to think it was something he would just have to get used to as it would occur more often each night. After awhile, when Aslan woke him, Peter would roll over and go back to sleep. In the morning I'd ask Peter how he slept. His answer was always, "I feel like I've been hit by a truck." I thought that was pretty melodramatic but wondered if maybe he should have a sleep test. His snoring was still as bad as ever, but he said that no matter how much sleep he got, he always woke up feeling exhausted.

"Peter went for the sleep test and then the follow-up appointment. The results were startling. He had severe sleep apnea. Apparently he was waking up 114 times per hour. His throat was obstructed, so he was ceasing to breath. Oxygen wasn't reaching his heart or brain.

His waking up was due to his brain registering the lack of breathing or a drop in oxygen levels and sending a wake-up call. He would rouse slightly and drift back to sleep immediately. Then the cycle would start again.

"The process of so much fragmented sleep leaves a person with extreme sleepiness and fatigue. This can lead to a much greater risk of motor vehicle accidents, hypertension, and a greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

"Peter wasn't remembering waking up throughout the night. But after he heard the medical explanation for his fatigue, he realized that Aslan had been jumping up and clawing at his chest whenever he had stopped breathing for dangerously long periods of time. Aslan was caring for my husband in the most amazing and loving way.

"Peter has a wonderful new breathing machine which he uses every night. Aslan sleeps most nights on the bed with him. Peter loves Aslan just as much as before, but now we both know what an amazing and loyal caregiver our big beautiful red Persian is.

Three Women and a Dog
While we were writing our book Rescued: Saving Animals from Disaster (New World Library, 2006), we interviewed Karen O'Toole. She's an award-winning screenwriter and film production manager from Paradise Valley, Arizona. Karen operates a website where people devoted to animal rescue can share information. Visit: karens

Karen shared a dramatic, mystical experience with us that occurred when she was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina doing animal rescue work. Nature had dished out a chilling dose of environmental disaster. Karen's story demonstrates that spiritual agreements between humans and animals manifest even in the worst of times.

The following is an excerpt from Karen's story in Rescued. "One of Karen O'Toole's most profound memories is when Tami, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, approached her in a parking lot in St. Bernard Parish. Tami asked Karen for help with her dog, Sasha. She said that she had rescued Sasha before the hurricane. Sasha and Tami had been living in a car for two months.

"Tami cried as she handed Karen the beautiful black-and-white dog who was licking tears off her face. She said she could no longer keep the dog because she needed to start living in the FEMA tents. She didn't want to put the dog in 'the system' and hoped Karen would help find a permanent home for the dog, who had become such a good friend.

"Karen didn't know what to do. How would she find a home for this dog when everyone she was meeting in this city was now homeless? She got busy on her phone, calling everyone she could think of.

One connection led to another, and she got through to a woman named Tina, who lived twenty-five miles outside the city. Tina was having troubles herself but she said that she wanted to help the poor young woman. So Tina generously offered to foster Sasha.

"After driving the twenty-five miles to bring Sasha to her new foster mom, Karen found Tina waiting for her. Karen opened her car door. Sasha, still on her leash, took one look at Tina, jumped out of Karen's car, and dragged Karen toward Tina's car. Karen heard Tina screaming with delight.

"Turns out, Tina had lost her dog six months earlier. Heartbroken, she had searched for the dog everywhere. She had assumed the dog was dead and that she would never see her again.

"Who was the dog she had agreed to foster? None other than Tina's very own lost dog, Gabby.

"Karen says, 'Tami found the dog, took her in, loved her, but had to give her up. Tina decided to foster the dog. This decision led to the dog's original owner being reunited with her dog. In all the world, that these two should find each other again was miraculous. Tina could have refused to help Tami. She would have stayed heartbroken. She would have hung up the phone and never known that I had her dog, Gabby.'"

Perhaps it's intuitive wisdom of our profound and natural relationships, but animals recognize and appreciate people who are both their friends and conscientious stewards of the earth.

Allen and Linda Anderson are founders of the Angel Animals Network and authors of a series of books about the spiritual connection between people and animals. "Angel Dogs with a Mission: Divine Messengers in Service to All Life" is their tenth book in the Angel Animals series published by New World Library. Subscribe to the free, online newsletter at and participate in the Angel Animals forum and blog.


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