By Allen and Linda Anderson
How Animals Can Help You Make Better Choices By Allen and Linda Anderson Recently on an “ABC Nightly News” broadcast, news anchor, Peter Jennings, said that ABC News had polled visitors to the Website for their partner, www.beliefnet.com . They’d asked the question: Do animals go to heaven? To their surprise, this poll received a tremendous response. 47 percent of people, who live with pets, think they will meet their animal companions in heaven.
We were surprised and delighted, as Jennings led into the segment about the debate over whether or not animals have souls, when the camera panned a set of books on the subject. Our book, “Angel Animals, Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals,” was included.
This news that so many people see animals as souls was pretty exciting. What felt sad to us, though, was the fact that 53 percent can look into the eyes of an animal in their home and not see a soul there. That’s pretty amazing, as far as we’re concerned.
Not only are animals souls who you will meet in heaven but we’ve observed that as souls, animals also make choices. Having a free will is a characteristic of the soul, so animals have free will.
If you observe carefully, you’ll see animals definitely making decisions. They’ll show you what they want, prefer, and like or dislike. Animals may not always be able to exercise free will, just as humans can’t have everything they want, but free will exists in the souls of animals as surely as immortality does.
The following stories offer examples that might cause you to notice animals using their free will.
Don’t Duck When Someone
Asks for Help
Reuters Wire Service recently ran a story about a duck in Vancouver, British Columbia, who knew what to do when she needed help and set about doing it with great panache.
Imagine being a police officer, minding your own business, walking your beat down the neighborhood street, when you feel a tug on your pant’s leg. You look down and see a duck!
That’s what happened to Officer Ray Peterson. At first, he pushed the duck away, but she kept pulling on his trousers. Each time the duck got his attention, she’d waddle over to a sewer grate and stare at him as if to say, “Aren’t you going to be just the least bit helpful?”
Finally Officer Peterson followed the duck. When he looked down the grate, he saw the mother’s eight little ducklings. They evidently had fallen into the sewer and were bobbing around on top of the water.
To the rescue, the kindly cop called a tow truck, which helped to pull away the heavy metal grate. Armed with a vegetable strainer (instead of a pistol), the policeman rescued the babies and returned them to their mother. The mother and her adventurous children then waddled away to swim in the much safer pond nearby.
Thanks and quacks to you, Officer Peterson. And thanks to a mother duck who made the choice of who would be best for saving her baby ducks from drowning.
To Work or To Play
Our dog, Taylor, teachers us a lot about how animals use free will AND their powers of persuasion.
We’ve been leading very busy and stressful lives lately. We work hard, have a heavy travel schedule, and spend whatever time we can, outside of our day-jobs, working on Angel Animals Foundation projects. Sometimes, play seems not to fit into our current lifestyle.
One warm June day, Linda had just returned to Minneapolis from California after working with a client out there. Since we have five pets, we try to arrange our schedules so one of us is always home. This has meant that often Linda’s arrival corresponds with Allen’s departure on a business trip. So, it was a treat on this summer afternoon for Allen to pick Linda up from the airport and for us to know that we’d have a few days together.
When we got home, our animal family greeted us warmly. Taylor, our yellow Labrador retriever, wagged her tail so hard that it pounded against the wall. As if sensing what we needed, she ran into Allen’s office and found a yellow tennis ball he often uses to play catch with her. We looked at Taylor and at each other, and Linda said, “Lets take a break before we get back to work. Why don’t we go for a walk by the lake and have some frozen custard?” Those were the magic words — Adele’s frozen custard — one of our favorite treats.
Off we went with Taylor in the back seat of our car. Sensing something fun was about to happen, the dog squealed all the way. She shifted from one side of the car to the other in anticipation of which way we were going to turn on the drive to the lake. We were so amused by Taylor’s joy and anticipation, we forgot to talk about all the things on our “to do” list. Along with our carefree and playful dog, we took delight in imagining a tennis ball, a lake, a place to run free, and of course, frozen custard.
By the time we arrived at the lake, the afternoon was turning into a beautiful summer evening with fading sunlight glistening off the water’s surface. We stopped and bought three custards — two in cups and one on a cone for Taylor. She ate her treat in two big gulps with gusto and slathered the custard all over her mouth and the car’s upholstery. She was having so much fun, slurping it with her big, pink tongue, that we didn’t mind at all.
As we walked along the lakeside with a gentle breeze cooling us, we began to release all our anxieties. After Allen threw the tennis ball, Taylor carefully climbed over the slippery rocks along the shore, then hurled her body into the water and swam out to retrieve it. Since fishing the bobbing green ball out of the water is a game Taylor can play endlessly, it soon became mechanical for Allen to throw it and let her swim back and forth. While we waited on the shore for Taylor to retrieve the ball, our thoughts returned to work, and we began to talk shop again.
Soon, we were telling each other that we must get home to start working. Allen stopped throwing the ball and signaled for Taylor to come with us. Without hesitation, she knocked the ball from Allen’s hand, ran with it in her mouth to the water’s edge, swung her head, and threw the ball into the water as far as she could. Then she gave us a look as if to say, “This is what YOU’RE supposed to do.” She jumped in the water, swam for the ball, then brought it back to where we were standing, dropping it at our feet.
Her eyes said it all: “See how we’re going to have fun. Your turn.”
She had such sincerity in her gaze, trying in her doggy way to teach us how to play, that all we could do was to laugh. Again, we felt the tension drain from our bodies. Taylor was showing us that the stress we felt was of our own creation. We’d been using our free will to choose work over play. Taylor used her free will to choose play over work. Thank goodness, we have such a good teacher to show us how to find and keep more balance in our lives.
Don’t forget to use your God-given gift of free will to create a better life for yourself. And consider looking to the animals for tips on how to make better choices.
Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of “Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals” (A Plume Book, 1999) in local and Internet bookstores. Angel Animals plush toys are available at www.incrediblecreatures.com or call (305) 532-3111 to order. The Andersons co-founded the Angel Animals Foundation to increase love and respect for all life-one story at a time. See www.angelanimals.org . Tax-deductible donations and story submissions are gratefully accepted at P.O. Box 26488, Minneapolis, MN 55426 or e-mail AngelAnimals@aol.com . For more information call (952) 925-3309.
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