The extraordinary true story that inspired Animal Magic Films
Updated: Oct 5, 2020
I have 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. Both cats were constant companions.
But it was our dog, JJ, who we accidentally rescued, that opened my eyes to
animal rescue and adoption. He was also the gateway 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.
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.
Photos of JJ as a puppy, circa 1995, and then fully grown:
Fast forward to 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.
After that hospital stay, I became a Certified Humane Education Specialist and wrote a few award-winning books:
JJ the American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House
What to Expect When Adopting a Dog
What to Expect When Adopting a Dog is a non-fiction guide to successful dog adoption for every family.
Then in 2014, I attended a conference and the keynote speakers on the last day changed my life. They were from the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and I learned about some of the incredible scientific research showing the positive therapeutic benefits of our connection with animals.
When I came home from the conference I was excitedly sharing what I had learned with a colleague. She suggested that I make a documentary film, and I decided to go for it! Since then, I’ve been learning more and more about the ways that animals help people therapeutically- including therapy animals, service animals, and our pets.
In 2019, I started making mini-documentaries raising awareness of just a few of the ways that animals support people, and we are in the early stages of a feature film and docuseries.
Given my personal healing experiences with animals, I can relate to some of the experiences others are having. The joy continues daily with my dogs Ninja and Gonzo.
Be sure to join our community so that you are among the first to know when our next films will be released. We have many more exciting and uplifting stories to share!