Book Review: Animal Wisdom, Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals

Joe Phomogrio

On a ski vacation with his family a Welsh Corgi named Oly is presumed to have tragically perished in an avalanche slide. Four days later, having traveled miles of wintery unknown territory, Oly is found sitting outside his family's motel room staring at the door. In 1974 Chinese people observed bizarre behavior of rats, snakes and other animals. Based on these warnings seismologists told officials to evacuate the city of Haicheng, and when a 7.3 earthquake hit later that evening tens of thousands of lives were saved. So how did it come to be that humans think of themselves as a superior species?

Every animal knows more than you do." This Native American proverb resonates soundly throughout

"Every animal knows more than you do." This Native American proverb resonates soundly throughout Animal Wisdom, veterinarian and animal activist Linda Bender's marvelous look at what animals teach us and how they share wisdom with the world. Ornithologists say the majority of bird song is not for communication, but for the sheer joy of singing. Elephants respond to happenings huge distances away. Though non-verbal, companion animals often understand more than we tell them. How can this be? Consider that animals don't use words because they don't need to. Their intuitive telepathic way of knowing may far surpass anything we could convey verbally. Perhaps we can learn from our canine companions what all the hours on the meditation cushion try to teach us. The dog waiting for his person is overjoyed at the end of the day when his person returns. The preceding long hours of patience and solitude are minimized as the exuberant moment of dog-human reuniting becomes expansive and fills the day.

Humans lived in close contact with animals in pre-industrialized societies, relied on their intelligence and desire to serve, and communicated with them regularly through animal spirit guides. So where did the notion of animal inferiority come from? Humans have commoditized animals, disregarding their individuality and divinity. Imagine spending your entire life on a fully booked passenger plane. Confined to your airline seat your whole life, you grow four times faster than you would normally, and then you die. This bombastic way of raising chickens, also known as factory farming, is exploitive and unconscionable. We must pay attention to the animals as they communicate the need to remedy our disrupted connection to them and to the planet.

Gail Lord is a freelance writer living in Massachusetts. Please send book review copies to 51 North Street, Grafton, MA 01519 or email