Animals as Teachers and Healers: True Stories and Reflections

Animals as Teachers and Healers: True Stories and Reflections

by Susan Chernak McElroy
     
 

Nonfiction Large Print Edition This book, a portion of whose royalties the author is donating to animal organizations, is a treat for anyone who cares about animals. New Age Journal In their innocence and wisdom, in their connection to the earth and its most ancient rhythms, animals show us a way back to a home they have never left. So says Susan Chernak…  See more details below

Overview

Nonfiction Large Print Edition This book, a portion of whose royalties the author is donating to animal organizations, is a treat for anyone who cares about animals. New Age Journal In their innocence and wisdom, in their connection to the earth and its most ancient rhythms, animals show us a way back to a home they have never left. So says Susan Chernak McElroy, a cancer survivor who credits much of her survival to the love of the animals in her life in this unique and compelling chronicle. Animals as Teachers and Healers is an invitation to reconnect with the boundless gifts of joy, wisdom, and deep healing that flow from our ageless and intimate relationships with the animal kingdom.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author, a former veterinarian's assistant in Oregon, attributes her recovery from cancer to the love of her dog, Keesha, and a stray kitten, Flora. McElroy presents a collection of heartwarming and inspirational stories about animals interwoven with her reflections and observations. The stories are tributes to the lives of beloved animals who accompanied their human companions through illness, divorce and other crises, including death. We meet dogs, cats and horses, swim with dolphins and visit a wolf rescue center. McElroy veers into mysticism when she discusses animals as dreams and totems (part of a cancer therapy program). She writes about grief and the death of a pet. Her overwhelming message to readers is to recognize our kinship with other species. Author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Author McElroy obviously loves and has a great deal of empathy for animals. Her premise here is that animals have a more significant role in our lives than is generally accepted. Exploring the psychological and spiritual bonds between various people and animals, she reads letters and talks of her own experiences. Examining the evolution of animals in our society, she indicates that we have lost much of our ability to truly appreciate our domestic animals and those in the wild. Much discussion is devoted to the terrible destructionand the beginning of restorationof the wolf. McElroy does not sugar-coat her message about our role, our relationships with, and our responsibility toward the animals in our care. To some listeners, this will be a little esoteric and lacking in solid fact for their liking. Those less concerned with scientific evidence will enjoy the stories and letters that she shares. Libraries serving large numbers of animal lovers and cancer patients (McElroy includes inspiring bits about her experience as a cancer survivor) should be interested.Carolyn Alexander, Brigadoon Lib., Salinas, Cal.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780939165278
Publisher:
NewSage Press, LLC
Publication date:
09/15/1995
Pages:
174
Product dimensions:
6.03(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Only weeks after I'd finally nursed Flora back to some resemblance of healthy kittenhood, she was diagnosed with feline leukemia. Cancer. Her veterinarian gave her the same sorry prognosis my oncologist had given me: Flora would most likely die within a year or two. My response was instant and unconscious. As soon as Flora's vet handed down the diagnosis, I wrote her off as a lost cause. Quickly, my emotional attachment to her ceased as I began to protect myself from the pain of her death, which I knew would come. But Flora simply wouldn't let me pull away. Flora did what cats do best, she waited and watched.

Her patience finally won out. One night I had an "AHA!" experience about my attitude toward Flora. How could I believe my own cancer wasn't a death sentence when I couldn't see the same hope for her? How could I dismiss any being without dismissing myself? Although I was busy blathering about hope and healing, I knew that I honestly saw myself in the grave.

That realization was a profound turning point for me. It was slow in coming, but when it did, it hit me like a downpour of hail stones. How often in my life had I turned away from pain and loss, and from honest feelings? Living at "half-life," I'd put away emotion at the first inkling of loss, and had nearly lost myself in the process

Over the next few months, I slowly learned that healing is more than heroics over illness. Healing isn't simply an end result, it's a process. Flora helped me reclaim the joy that had died after my cancer treatment and my previous relationship had ended. She brought me a tremendous peace with her quiet, trusting presence. Finally, as I saw Flora healed, loved, and cherished, Iknew I could honestly hold the same hopeful vision for myself.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Susan Chernak McElroy has been an animal lover all of her life. She has worked as a veterinarian's assistant, Humane Society educator, dog trainer, wildlife rehabilitator, and zookeeper. Her writing has appeared in national magazines and is featured in several published and upcoming anthologies, including Chicken Soup for Soul Survivors, Wounded Healers, and Intimate Relationships: Embracing the Natural World. She makes her home in Oregon at Bright Star Farm.

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