This trade paperback is written in first person by author Allen Anderson with his wife Linda Anderson about Allen's experience surviving a traumatic brain surgery and the impact his rescue Cocker Spaniel named Leaf had on his journey and recovery. The book is a chronicle of spiritual healing of both man and dog, and an inspiring tale (and tail!) told with great affection, humor and dignity.
Allen Anderson is an inspirational speaker and coauthor with his wife Linda of many books about the human animal bond. Together they founded the Angel Animals Network, an organization celebrating the spiritual connectedness we share with animal companions.
Review: A Dog Named Leaf by Allen Anderson with Linda Anderson
This touching, almost lyrical book is a very personal story bravely told by the author and his wife. Some of the story will be very familiar to pet lovers, such as the heartbreak of losing a beloved dog and then adopting a new furry friend (perhaps?) too soon. I call this "St. Spot" syndrome, where the new pet rarely compares favorably with the memory of the lost furry love. It speaks well of the author that he recognized no dog would be the same as Taylor, his Labrador heart-dog.
Shortly after the death of a special canine friend, Allen and Linda adopted a rescued Cocker Spaniel pup. "Leaf" quickly turn their home upside down. Animal communicators they consulted said Leaf was emotionally damaged by being left at the shelter, and so he no longer trusted people.
However, the wild behavior described seems typical of juvenile delinquent adolescent dogs and pups that lacked proper socialization and hadn't been potty trained. Whether this resulted directly from being left at the shelter or not, it more than likely did contribute to the behavior, although I'm not convinced that dogs truly remember and feel embarrassed as was ascribed by the author. Leaf also suffered from separation anxiety and howled and cried whenever left alone.
The Andersons wanted him to eagerly accept touching and petting, human hugs and kisses as had their last dog. Reading this, I could only applaud the restraint that Leaf showed when he only stiffened and didn't instead bite in reaction, since hugs and kisses are not "normal" dog behaviors and often get children bitten. He growled at strangers, was pushy around other dogs, and in any other household may well have been returned to the shelter.
But the authors saw something special in Leaf--and it soon turned out, this little dog also saw something special in Allen. It took near tragedy for the pair to ultimately connect. The author was diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm that could have taken his life at any moment. Surgery saved Allen's life--but Leaf healed his soul.
Readers may question the veracity of the animal communicators' abilities to interpret a dog's feelings. Certainly, some of what the authors describe in the book can be explained in other ways--as normal pup behavior, lack of training, or any of a host of other reasons. But what matters most in this lovely tale is that Allen Anderson's connection with Leaf brought Allen through a physically and emotionally challenging trial--and that this little black rescue dog turned over a new "leaf" and in turn transformed into a gem of a companion.
We can't explain the magic that happens between a special dog and human. And that's okay. In fact, trying to analyze such things perhaps is a disservice to the joy and spiritual nature of the bond. We can simply recognize the magic and celebrate it. This is a lovely story that will uplift anyone who has ever loved a dog.