Image by Peri Priatna
You've heard of watchdogs who let people know when danger is near, but our yellow Labrador retriever, Taylor, lets us know when love is lurking. Linda began to notice that when Allen was away and called home, Taylor often knew about it in advance. About a second before the telephone rang, Taylor would come to wherever Linda was and perk up her doggie ears. Then she'd give a short "woof" and nod her head toward the telephone. Within a heartbeat, the phone would ring and Allen was on the other end of the line.
At first, we thought this just happened when Allen, Taylor's favorite person in the world, called. But the mystery of Taylor's ability to tune into the love vibration continued to unfold. We started to notice that sometimes when an animal-lover was about to call, Taylor also did her routine: ears up, a short bark, and a look with anticipation toward the telephone. If a caller wasn't approaching us with love, Taylor ignored the incoming signal. We finally concluded that Taylor, along with many of the animals you'll read about in this chapter, has a heightened love detector. [Editor's note: One of the stories is included here online. The others can be found in the book.]
We'd probably all like to be able to recognize love when it is on the way or has arrived. But sometimes love can seem distant or non-existent. If you envision an impersonal deity in a far-away heaven, how would your life change if you knew that God's love is as close as your own breath? Would you recognize grace more easily if the vehicles for miracles sat on your lap or perched on your shoulder? The stories demonstrate that God's love is both near and unconditional, allowing for free will and the range of human experience.
These stories may help you remember times when animals delivered spiritual wake-up calls and then quieted your mind so that you could hear the whisper of divine love.
The MAN Who Didn't LIKE CATS
-- Lynn Harper, Encinitas, California
When I married Bill, I knew that he barely tolerated children and animals. Cats were especially unthinkable. He changed his mind about children when our daughter, Liberty, came along. Over the years, he learned to live with our two dogs -- Golli, a Yorkie, and Charli, a Maltese -- as well as two box turtles and a few guppies. As Liberty turned thirteen, a pivotal age when she needed a creature of her own to love, she decided that she wanted a kitten. I tried to convince her that it would be best to get a cat later; I knew that Bill wouldn't be happy about having a feline addition to our family.
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One day, Liberty and I went to a plant nursery where we noticed on the counter a photo of a litter of kittens. Our hearts melted at the sight of a cute pewter-colored kitten with a white mustache and white chest. One of her white paws had a distinctive pewter mark. Liberty and I looked at each other and said, "This cat is meant to be with us."
The lady at the counter said that the litter had recently been born at her home. The kittens would be ready for new homes in a month. We told her which one we wanted, and she wrote "taken" on that kitten's picture.
Now we had to break the news to Bill. We decided to wait until the kitten was ready to come home. When we finally told him, he glared, gritted his teeth, and said, "That cat is never to come into our bedroom." When we went to get the kitty, the husband of the lady from the nursery almost gave us the wrong one. But before we left, she came home and found our kitten buried deep in the couch cushions on the far side of the room, looking like a queen who had to separate herself from the others.
We picked up the kitty and immediately felt a heart connection with her. We said, "This is the kitten who is supposed to come home with us." Since we'd originally gone to the nursery to buy a sage plant and found the kitten's photo there, we named her Sage.
When we arrived home, Bill only said, "It doesn't go into the bedroom."
Wouldn't you know it? Sage liked Bill right away. As the days and weeks passed, Bill started playing with Sage, letting her bat at things he held for her. Bill was always the first to get up in the morning and, to my surprise, he started sharing his breakfast with Sage. Together they ate fruit, cheese, ice cream, and anything else he had on his plate. It wasn't long before Sage was allowed into our bedroom.
In the mornings, she began to hop on the nightstand next to Bill, emitting a distinctive sound to alert him when it was time to begin their morning ritual. I loved seeing Bill look forward to his early morning play times with Sage. He seemed to genuinely enjoy taking care of her. He nicknamed Sage, who now weighed in at eighteen pounds, "Ms. Americat."
Sage had one big problem that should have caused Bill to reconsider his fondness for her: She stopped using her litter box and began urinating on our bed and on the carpet. Each time Sage had an accident, Bill made excuses for her. He bought new mattresses, tore out soiled carpet, and eventually replaced the carpet with slate flooring. Finally he realized that Sage's litter box was too small. He bought the largest litter box he could find, and Sage never again had a problem. But this ordeal revealed the undeniable truth: A pewter-and-white kitten had won the heart of a self-professed cat-hater.
The extra dimension that Sage has added to Bill's life is immeasurable. Theirs is a special relationship, and Sage brings him remarkable pleasure. This cat has such a calming effect on Bill that he's become mellower. Sage has brought the quality of unconditional love into Bill's life. She adoringly follows him everywhere.
I always know when Bill is coming home, because Sage apparently senses it in advance. She walks over and sits by the door to the attached garage a few minutes before Bill arrives when he is a few blocks away. I know from Sage's position that the outside garage door will soon open and Bill will come into the house where she waits to greet him.
Sage is our wonderful angel animal. We treasure the blessings she's given to our whole family, but especially to Bill.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library. ©2003. www.newworldlibrary.com
God's Messengers: What Animals Teach Us About the Divine
by Allen and Linda Anderson.
Combining spiritual questions with heartwarming animal tales, God’s Messengers will appeal to anyone who seeks the mystical in the everyday. The authors have gathered these accounts from a wide variety of people and divided them into four sections: Love, Wisdom, Courage, and Comfort. Each story answers a question, for example: Is there a God? Are prayers answered? and Is there a heaven? Throughout, wild and domesticated creatures teach humans about health, compassion, and unconditional love — birds, coyotes, dolphins, and iguanas, as well as cats, dogs, and horses. Readers will learn about a ferret who helped an autistic boy play baseball, a dolphin who was saved by a concerned community, and a dog who pulled hair from her tail in sympathy with a chemo patient. 50 black-and-white photographs accompany these amazing stories.
About the Authors
ALLEN AND LINDA ANDERSON are the founders of the Angel Animals Network (www.angelanimals.net). They are also inspirational speakers and coauthors of Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals. They offer a free weekly newsletter, Angel Animals Day Brightener. They share their home in Minneapolis with a menagerie of animals and donate a portion of the revenues they receive as authors to animal shelters.