The extraordinary true story that inspired Animal Magic Films
Updated: Feb 22
I’ve personally experienced the power of the human-animal bond multiple times in my life.
When I was in middle school, I was bullied almost daily. I knew what loneliness felt like. Except that every day, when I came home from school, my cat Kougle would come out from under my bed where he was waiting for me. I would cry to Kougle and somehow manage to be just ok enough the next morning to get myself back to school.
This is Kougle circa 1973 with my sister, Julie.
While not as dramatic, when I moved to Los Angeles from NYC, I left behind all my friends and family. I traveled with my cat Stevie, and then we adopted another cat named Rocky, whom we adored.
But it was our dog, JJ, that we accidentally rescued, who not only opened my eyes to
animal rescue and adoption, but was a way for me to finally meet neighbors and make friends while out walking. Most importantly, it was through JJ that I really fell in love with dogs and experienced for myself their loyalty and unconditional love.
Photos of JJ as a puppy, circa 1995, and then fully grown:
And then in 2009, my kids got the flu, then I got the flu; then they got better, and I didn’t.
I landed in the hospital with pneumonia.
Around day 4 in the hospital, the infectious disease specialists came in because I was not responding to treatment. That same day (I think, though I couldn’t be sure because I had a pretty high fever), a woman showed up at my hospital room door and asked if I wanted a visit from a dog.
“A dog? Of course!”
She spread a clean sheet on my bed and up jumped Max. We visited for a few minutes then Max left with his handler to visit another patient. Boy did that visit lift my spirits.
The next day, I turned the corner and was released from the hospital a few days later. Granted, they also switched my antibiotics which I do not discount as a primary reason for my turnaround, but I do believe that the dog visit had a massive impact on my emotional state which impacts our physical state.
As I have learned about more and more ways that animals help people, I can relate to others’
experiences because I have experienced some of them firsthand.
These experiences continue daily via the joyful interactions I have with my dogs Ninja and Gonzo.
During those early days with JJ, I got more involved with animal rescue and served on the board of directors of a small animal welfare organization, Animal Guardian Society.
I became a Certified Humane Education Specialist and wrote some award-winning books:
What to Expect When Adopting a Dog is a non-fiction guide to successful dog adoption for every family.