Pet Corner
How Angel Animals Teach with Love
By Allen and Linda Anderson



It took us awhile to notice. Humans can be awfully dense sometimes. But our yellow cockatiel, Sunshine, continued to be patient. After awhile, we began to understand how he was teaching Linda to sing his birdsongs.

Every morning, we uncover the birdcage and Sunshine greets the day with his customary, “I love you, Sweet Baby.” While Linda makes breakfast, Sunshine whistles. Since his mate Sparkle died a year ago, Linda has become careful to return Sunshine’s whistles. The vet told us that we are Sunshine’s “flock” and we take our responsibility seriously. Birds whistle and expect their flock to whistle back.

Recently we figured out Sunshine’s loving way of training his whistle partner. First, he starts with a very simple whistle of only a few notes. Linda responds with exactly the same whistle. Gradually he escalates and makes the whistles a bit more complicated. Each time, Linda whistles back. She has to listen very carefully to get the tune just right. Finally, Sunshine cuts loose with some complex composition worthy of Mozart, trilling and riffing like a jazz singer. By this time, Linda is completely outclassed.

Unlike most humans, who would give up in disgust at the inferior ability of their partner, Sunshine grows very quiet while he waits for Linda to return his symphonic whistle. When she does-n’t, he goes back to basics. He starts all over with a simple, two or three-note whistle and waits for her to respond. These humans, they sure do need a lot of persistent coaching.

Sunshine reminds us that animals, our angels in disguise, often show by their examples how to treat others with kindness, respect, and yes, absolute patience.

The Man Who Lost His Fur
We receive many letters from people who have learned other important lessons by observing animals in their homes or in nature. Here are a couple stories that might cause you to wonder who is teaching whom in human-animal relationships.

Lynn Hewitt says her cat Poog has the kind of expressive green eyes that convey his intelligence and gentle heart. She writes about an experience with her brother-in-law, Ron, Poog’s very favorite houseguest.

“Ron has a calm and determined manner. What Ron says and does, reflects his inner feelings with a consistency and integrity that Poog obviously understands and respects. Whenever Ron visits, Poog behaves as if a royal prince has entered his realm.”

Ron customarily wears a baseball cap. It covers his shaved, bald scalp. On one occasion, Ron took off his cap when he came into the house. This was the first time Poog had ever seen him without it. Since the cat always paid the most worshipful attention to Ron, it was with great dismay that Poog observed the change in his friend’s demeanor. The sight of hairless Ron caused Poog to begin moaning. He circled Ron slowly and jumped up on the chair to look more closely at the disaster that had been visited upon his hero. Poog’s sad eyes told the story of his empathy for a fallen prince who had obviously endured a great disaster.

Lynn writes, “Poog clearly communicated horror and sympathy for Ron’s ‘furless’ head. It brought tears to the eyes of several humans in the room as Poog slowly crept respectfully up the arm of this honored guest and gently licked and kissed his scalp in obvious sorrow and sympathy. There are greater tragedies in a cat’s world, but the shaving away of fur was certainly a calamity Poog recognized. His sincere and gently offered condolence remains a lesson in the innate character and virtues of our animal friends, especially when their unique gifts of individuality are consistently honored and nurtured with love and respect.”

A Doggie Warning Dream
So often humans think they are taking their dog companions for obedience training. Those of us who have caught on to the folly of this way of thinking know it’s the other way around. The dog trains us, and we eventually figure out what we’re supposed to be doing.

What you may not have realized is that our angel animals continue to teach us even after death. The following story from Noreen A. McClusky, a freelance writer and animal communicator ( ), is a reminder that our animal friends never leave or forget us. We first published Noreen’s story in the Angel Animals Day Brightener Newsletter.

“Keira was a lovely Harlequin Great Dane, an amazing head-turner. Many years ago, Keira passed over. But a few weeks back, an image of her woke me out of a sound sleep. Keira’s message to me in the dream was an important one. She urged me that a certain loved one, my sister, whom she’d adored, needed to go have a breast exam, especially the right breast.

“Since I have learned to trust these kinds of spiritual experiences, I phoned my sister. I relayed the important warning and left it at that.

“A couple of days later, I received a return voicemail. ‘Yeah, I’d been putting it off,’ my sister said, ‘but I just went and had the right breast lump biopsied. Thank God, it’s benign. I didn’t tell anybody about the biopsy beforehand because I didn’t want people to panic. Tell Keira, thanks for the nudge!’

“Listen to your dreams. So what if the still, small voice used to bark!”

Have animals been teaching you important lessons of life in their gentle and silent ways? Are you picking up the signals from furry angels who teach by example? Are there animals in your life or visiting your dreams to help you learn to sing their wise and complex songs?

Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of the new book, “God’s Messengers: What Animals Teach Us about the Divine” (New World Library). Please visit their site at , “Scheduled Events,” to see if you can attend one of the 30 bookstore events around the country that the Andersons and contributing authors will be hosting. You are invited to send your true stories to Angel Animals, P.O. Box 26354, Minneapolis, MN 55426 or e-mail .

Return to the November/December Index page