SPIRIT’S BEST FRIEND
Couple Spreads Lessons through Angel Animals
By Kathy DeSantis
“By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter into a spiritual
relationship with the universe.”
—Albert Schweitzer (1875-1948)
If you have ever thought to yourself that your pet might be an angel, you are not alone. Linda and Allen Anderson of Minneapolis, Minnesota have heard from many people who believe that animals not only are angels but that they have a deep connection with spirituality and the Divine.
Awareness Magazine is pleased to feature this special couple, who themselves are contributing editors to the magazine. They have become known as the angel animal storytellers through vignettes about their own animals and a newsletter they created with contributions from people who have submitted animal stories that touched their lives. The Andersons have dedicated themselves to the sharing of these stories in order to bring about much-needed change in the way animals are viewed in our world and the role we humans play as their caretakers and fellow inhabitants of the planet.
“Our goal is to bring more love, light and comfort to others,” Linda said.
In 1996, when Allen and Linda Anderson started the Angel Animals® projects, they dreamed their work would help animals the world over by changing people’s attitudes toward furry, feathered, flowing, and flying creatures. They hoped to gain the support of animal lovers worldwide, which they did. By sharing stories of how animals constantly assist people in amazing ways, the Andersons made it possible for us to recognize how animals are messengers of love and miracles are possible when we are open to them.
“If one story is enough to change the heart of one person who then treats one animal with more kindness, we have been successful” according to Allen.
The Andersons began collecting stories about the spiritual bond between people and animals. Their first publication was a bi-monthly, printed newsletter that quickly attracted thousands of subscribers worldwide. The success of the newsletter led them to write their first book called “Angel Animals — Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals,” which was released by Dutton/Plume in Fall 1999. By December of that year the book had been featured by Willard Scott on NBC’s The Today Show and became an Amazon.com Hot 100 book. “It seems we touched a deep chord within people — we asked them questions not asked before and many said, “I have an angel animal story too,” Linda said.
After receiving much media attention and even more animal stories, it became clear to Allen and Linda that this project had enormous impact and the message was too important for them to bring into the world themselves. They soon realized if they were going to achieve their goal of changing attitudes, it would take many more resources and need to continue far beyond the years they have left on earth to make a dent in a world filled with cruelty toward animals and humans. So, in 2001, the Andersons co-founded the Angel Animals Network with its web-site at www.angelanimals.net . They describe this organization as being dedicated to “Increasing Love and Respect for All Life — One Story at a Time.”
In their efforts to raise awareness about the spiritual partnership between humans and animals, the Andersons envision the Angel Animals Network as a resource for distributing inspiring stories that the public, authors, and media journalists or producers can use in other publications and broadcasts. Since their book’s publication, they have received complimentary letters about their work from the late-Ann Landers, actresses Tippi Hedren and Val-erie Harper, and First Lady of Minnesota, Terry Ventura, among others.
Their most recent book is called “God’s Messengers: What Animals Teach us About the Divine.” This book offers heartwarming stories that demonstrate the power of unconditional love from our beloved animal companions and it was reviewed in the September/October issue of Awareness Magazine. “God’s Messengers,” published by New World Library, is now available at local bookstores and on-line booksellers.
The Andersons are especially pleased that “God’s Messengers” and their project has received the endorsement of celebrities well known for their love of animals, including Richard Simmons, who also contributed a personal story about his mother and his Dalmatians. Stories in the new book help us to see how our lives are interconnected with animals and challenge our traditional attitudes about how animals are viewed.
As shelters and organizations worldwide struggle to build more facilities, spay and neuter more animals, rescue more abused and abandoned creatures, and save more endangered species, the need for inspiring the public to change its attitude seems to be growing rather than decreasing. The power of stories to change attitudes and raise consciousness is why Allen and Linda have organized the (AAN).
What Can Be Done
to Help the Animals?
The Andersons invite you to join their Angel Animals Network which entails visiting their web-site
( www.angelanimals.net ) and sharing your own stories of how animals have acted as angels in your life. Either submit your own real “angel” animal story, or if you find news clippings of animals helping someone else or having an impact on someone’s life, send it in. “Real stories have a real impact,” Linda says.
If you don’t have a story and just love animals, this is the place to meet kindred spirits who will touch your life with their own stories. It seems that millions of people perceive animals as divine beings anyway. It is undeniable that animals are providing spiritual qualities such as unconditional love, joy, healing, forgiveness, patience, courage, humor and gratitude — virtues that are often lacking in our modern high-tech, yet low-touch lives.
According to an American Animal Hospital Association’s Pet Owner Survey, 43 percent of pets (not including fish and snakes) sleep with their human companions. In a nation with 235 million pets, the growing need people have for finding comfort by cuddling with animals is symptomatic of our troubled times.
The Andersons co-author a weekly on-line newsletter forum appropriately called the “Day Brightener” which consists of their own animal stories (they have a large family) and also stories submitted by readers. Subscribers are from almost every country in the world, according to Linda. Archives of the newsletter are available at their web-site. I am a subscriber and always look forward to my next e-mail.
Thanks to the Andersons and the people who have submitted stories, the “Day Brightener” and the AAN have blossomed — delivering the message that animals are connections to spirituality, loving us unconditionally. Indeed, animals are our spirit’s best friends. Animals are effective vehicles for bringing hope, peace, and purpose into our daily lives. When people are blinded by pain, deadened by despair and cannot accept or recognize God’s love, a dog, cat, horse, rabbit, bird, ferret, hamster, or pot-bellied pig can break through the heartache and deliver a message that is custom-designed for our spiritual needs.
Allen and Linda Anderson are authors, inspirational speakers, and members of the clergy who have been married since 1983. Allen is a computer software trainer, photographer, and writer. Linda is an award-winning playwright, fiction writer, and the author of 35 Golden Keys to Who You Are & Why You’re Here. Allen and Linda share their home in Minneapolis with a menagerie of pets and donate a portion of revenue from their projects to animal shelters and organizations.
|For book signings and speaking engagements in your area, to enroll for the free Day Brightener’s online newsletter, and for more information about the Angel Animals Network, please visit www.angelanimals.net|
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