Dog from the Afterlife Warns Woman of Need for a Mammogram

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Nory McCluskey of Niles, Illinois wrote to best-selling authors, Allen and Linda Anderson, about her dream of a dog who had recently passed away but returned with a cancer warning. The Andersons were pleased to put a twist on the message for women to get their mammograms. Especially since in 2001, Linda Anderson had a bout with breast cancer that threatened to end the couple's career as a husband-and-wife writing team.

Nory McCluskey of Niles, Illinois wrote to best-selling authors, Allen and Linda Anderson, about her dream of a dog who had recently passed away but returned with a cancer warning. The Andersons were pleased to put a twist on the message for women to get their mammograms. Especially since in 2001, Linda Anderson had a bout with breast cancer that threatened to end the couple's career as a husband-and-wife writing team. In the Andersons' new release "Rainbows & Bridges: An Animal Companion Memorial Kit" (October 2005, New World Library, $24.95), they deal with all aspects of pet loss, including after-death reunions. Information at http://www.angelanimals.net.

McCluskey says in "Rainbows & Bridges" that her deceased Great Dane Keira communicated in a dream that her sister, of whom the dog had been fond, needed a breast exam immediately. McCluskey related the warning to her sister via an e-mail letter. About a week after the dream, McCluskey's sister phoned and said that indeed, she had been putting off having an exam of a lump in her right breast. She hadn't wanted to alarm McCluskey by telling her about it. After reading the letter about McCluskey's dream with Keira, the sister got a mammogram and thankfully, found that the lump was benign.

The Andersons say that with pets in 63 percent of American homes, at the death or loss of an animal family member, millions feel heartbroken. Not everyone is sympathetic. As Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts show, when others underestimate the depth of the human-animal relationship, bereaved people become hostile or are plunged into loneliness and despair.

The Andersons wrote "Rainbows & Bridges" to help individuals and families heal after pet loss. It contains a comprehensive book about all aspects of pet-loss grief, a fill-in journal and meditation cards to facilitate remembering the life of a pet, a photo frame, and three types of memorial services that laypeople or clergy can use to hold a ceremony after the passing of a pet. The kit received an endorsement by Dr. Marty Becker, resident veterinarian for "Good Morning America," and Susan Chernak McElroy, "The New York Times" best-selling author of "Animals as Teachers and Healers," and a positive review in "Spirituality & Health" magazine.

Allen Andersons says, "We hope to raise awareness that the loss of a pet also has health consequences. People try to cope with the grief but become depressed, stressed-out, and even physically ill when they feel that no one understands how much they are suffering. Animals are family members. Grief over their loss can no longer be trivialized or ridiculed."

The Andersons are not alone in noticing deteriorating health when an animal dies, is lost, or has to be separated from his or her human, such as when an elderly person moves to a facility that doesn't allow pets. Touting the health benefits of pet companionship. Dr. Andrew Weil, the nation's alternative medicine doctor, says in the October 13, 2005 issue of his online newsletter, "Studies have shown that pet owners, particularly the elderly, have lower blood pressure, are less likely to be depressed, and have higher self-esteem than people who don't have companion animals. Among the more tangible rewards: A 1999 study in New York, Missouri and Texas found that medication costs dropped in nursing homes that allowed pets. In another study, 70 percent of the families surveyed reported an increase in happiness and fun as a result of acquiring a pet. In 2000, the American Heart Association's study of stockbrokers found that those who had the companionship of a dog or cat experienced a calming of the "stress response" that can contribute to high blood pressure."

"Rainbows & Bridges" and "Angel Dogs: Divine Messengers of Love" (October 2005)," with a foreword by Willard Scott, are both being released this year. All the Andersons books are available at bookstores, gift shops, online booksellers nationwide, and through the publisher, New World Library.

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