For Bea

For Bea is a memoir of a beagle who changed my life.  I found her, lost and desperate, on the street and brought her home.  The next day I learned from a tattoo in her ear that she’d come from a research lab, but her origins shouldn’t have surprised me.  She was almost paralyzed from terror; and if anyone came close to her, she vibrated from her nose to her tail.  But slowly with love and care, she blossomed into a loving and confident dog.  She taught me about courage and reminded me that bad can turn to good.  Because of her, I became an animal welfare advocate and an animal writer.  Bea helped me find my life’s work, which is to show how important animals can be in our lives and how worthy they are of our kindness.

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The Compassion of Animals

When I wrote The Compassion of Animals, few people believed that animals were capable of expressing positive emotions or caring about anything but themselves.  On Google, I found thousands of citations for animals’ anger, fear, and selfishness, but almost nothing about their courage, loyalty, or kindness.  Yet from my own experience, I knew how brave and loving my dogs and cats could be.  There seemed to be a disconnect between what experts said and what I saw with my own eyes.  So I collected thousands of stories of animals rescuing, comforting, and being kind to people and other animals; and I put some of the stories in The Compassion of Animals.  Now similar books are published every year, and animals’ courage and kindness appears often in the news.  Attitudes have changed.  Thank goodness.

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Beauty in the Beasts

Before I wrote Beauty in the Beasts, some of the researchers I interviewed told me that animals didn’t think.  The idea, I suppose, was that they were machines, groping through life and blindly following instincts hardwired into their brains.  In Beauty and the Beasts, I wanted to show that far more than instincts drive animal behavior, and nothing forces animals to carry out their often amazing acts of kindness, cooperation, and courage.  Rather, animals are as free as we are, and they can choose to do good. They decide whether or not to drag someone out of a burning building or to jump in front of an ongoing car to protect a child they love.  And, just like us, animals can be as decent toward strangers and members of a different species as they are to their family and friends.

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