Relationships - Dog Style
By Allen and Linda Anderson



We have written about adventures at dog park before but this time, we want to share an incident that delivered a strong spiritual message about relationships between people and animals. But also about having a relationship with the Divine.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you think no one is listening, you're surprised with the message that you have been heard? This sense of abandonment can become an aspect of our relationship with Spirit. We shout to the Universe: Can you hear me? Only silence greets our pleas. And then something happens to let us know that our anxious calls haven't gone unnoticed.

One day, our black cocker spaniel Leaf reminded us that thoughts and words are not hurtling into black holes. As Allen drove to the dog park, he glanced over at Leaf quietly sitting next to him. The little dog looked angelic, innocent, and even sweet. He didn't at all appear ready to deliver a powerful spiritual lesson, but that's exactly what was about to happen.

In contrast to his current carefree mood, earlier that day, Leaf had inexplicably barked and emitted a little growl at a woman who had walked by us. Taking advantage of Leaf's mellow attitude on the way to dog park, Allen asked, "So why did you not like that harmless lady who tried to pet you?"

Leaf made eye contact as Allen launched into his lecture. "You need to be nice and considerate to people," he admonished. "I want people to like you. Don't you want to be liked? Even if you don't know someone, be nice."

By now, it had been almost a year after we had rescued Leaf from an animal shelter. We had come to realize that he was not like most other dogs. The dogs we had known had wagged their tails and wanted to be friends with any human.

They viewed people as wonderful, amazing creatures that petted, played, and enjoyed the company of canines. Their attitude seemed to be that dogs love people, and people love dogs. Leaf didn't buy into that worldview. He had turned out to be pickier than the friendlier dogs of our past.

Leaf let out a big yawn that day while Allen continued his lecture. Frustrated, he tried to get Leaf to understand how important it is to him for Leaf to treat humans with respect. "Let's make a deal!" he said, sounding like the host of a television game show. "When you see someone you don't know, do something nice, anything nice you can think of." Leaf, obviously bored with this conversation, turned his head away and gazed longingly out the window, seemingly oblivious to Allen's request.

King of the Dog Park
Allen and Leaf arrived at the dog park, and Leaf entered with his usual gusto. He barreled through the gate and tore into the place as if he were king of the park. With his head high, walking royally, he surveyed his kingdom and all his human and dog subjects. Allen pulled out of his pocket Leaf's orange, rubber bouncy ball. The dog loved running after his ball, retrieving it, and bringing it back to Allen for another throw.

While watching Allen repeatedly throw the ball for Leaf, the other people at dog park commented that our cocker spaniel had more retriever instincts in him than some of the actual retriever breeds that were there. It was fun for all of us to watch Leaf run with enthusiasm on his short legs, his large ears flopping in the wind, as he chased after the ball. Sometimes Allen would make the ball bounce, and Leaf would jump into the air, trying to catch it before it hit the ground.

On this day, Allen noticed an older gentleman who was wearing a button-up, short sleeve shirt. The elderly man threw a yellow ball for his small, white, fluffy dog. Sometimes the dog would chase and retrieve, but more often the dog would watch it land and refuse to bother playing such a juvenile game. This meant the man became the one retrieving his dog's ball to throw again.

The gentleman looked like he was getting tired after a few throws of the ball. His dog had only consented to retrieve it a couple of times. He sat down on a wooden picnic bench to rest. At this point his dog's ball lay on the ground a distance away.

Leaf observed the situation. After bringing his bouncy ball back to Allen and dropping it at his feet, Leaf tore after the yellow ball that the man had been throwing. He grabbed it, held it in his mouth, and slowly delivered it to the tired man who still sat on the bench. Leaf dropped the yellow ball at the man's feet.

Then he sat next to him and patiently waited for his gnarled fingers to gently pat his head. When the gentlemen obliged with a grateful petting session, Leaf looked at Allen who read the dog's thoughts by viewing the expression on his face. Leaf was saying, "See, I can be nice to people I don't know."

After making sure Allen saw what he had done, Leaf walked tall and trotted toward him. The gentleman had a big grin on his face. He was delighted that a dog he did not know had helped him. As if Leaf were cueing him, the grateful man said, "Your dog is nice."

By this time Leaf was back at Allen's feet, waiting for him to throw his ball, which Allen did. Somewhat confused and surprised at this event, Allen wondered if our dog had just wanted to show that when he wanted to be nice, he could. Or had he discovered the blessings of being a nice angel dog?

Most of all, though, Leaf had delivered a message. He was letting us know that although we might feel invisible and unheard, the Universe, Life, even Leaf, are listening. We just have to trust and be open to the ways that Spirit manifests answers to our questions. Even when the sacred vehicle turns out to be a little dog who understands more than we give him credit for and can be nice to strangers, even if only to prove a point.

Allen and Linda Anderson are founders of the Angel Animals Network. They are speakers and authors of a series of books published by New World Library. Their newest book is "Angel Animals Book of Inspiration: Divine Messengers of Wisdom and Compassion." Subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week at Enter the Dogs and the Women Who Love Them 2009 True Story Contest at


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