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Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul: Stories About Pets as Teachers, Healers, Heroes and Friends (Chicken Soup for the Soul) Paperback – April 1, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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About the Author

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, the #1 New York Times Bestselling authors

Marty Becker, D.V.M., is the author of Becoming Your Dog's Best Friend: How to Earn Your Dog's Love, the practice leadership editor for Veterinary Economics magazine and a featured columnist for Pet Life magazine. Becker is a keynote speaker at veterinary conferences worldwide and a lecturer at veterinary schools across North America.

Carol Kline is co-director of Noah's Ark Foundation, a no-kill animal rescue facility, where she helps care for and find homes for abandoned and injured animals.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Becky and the Wolf

With all her big brothers and sisters off to school, our ranch became a lonely place for our three-year-old daughter, Becky. She longed for playmates. Cattle and horses were too big to cuddle and farm machinery dangerous for a child so small. We promised to buy her a puppy but in the meantime, ôpretendö puppies popped up nearly every day.

I had just finished washing the lunch dishes when the screen door slammed and Becky rushed in, cheeks flushed with excitement. ôMama!ö she cried. ôCome see my new doggy! I gave him water two times already. HeÆs so thirsty!ö

I sighed. Another of BeckyÆs imaginary dogs.

ôPlease come, Mama.ö She tugged at my jeans, her brown eyes pleading. ôHeÆs crying and he canÆt walk!ö ôCanÆt walkö? Now that was a twist. All her previous make-believe dogs could do marvelous things. One balanced a ball on the end of its nose. Another dug a hole that went all the way through the earth and fell out on a star on the other side. Still another danced on a tightrope. Why suddenly a dog that couldnÆt walk?

ôAll right, honey,ö I said. By the time I tried to follow her, Becky had already disappeared into the mesquite. ôWhere are you?ö I called. ôOver here by the oak stump. Hurry, Mama!ö

I parted the thorny branches and raised my hand against the glare of the Arizona sun. A numbing chill gripped me. There she was, sitting on her heels, toes dug firmly in the sand, and cradled in her lap was the unmistakable head of a wolf! Beyond its head rose massive black shoulders. The rest of the body lay completely hidden inside the hollow stump of a fallen oak.

ôBecky.ö My mouth felt dry. ôDonÆt move.ö I stepped closer. Pale-yellow eyes narrowed. Black lips tightened, exposing double sets of two-inch fangs. Suddenly the wolf trembled. Its teeth clacked, and a piteous whine rose from its throat.

ôItÆs all right, boy,ö Becky crooned. ôDonÆt be afraid. ThatÆs my mama, and she loves you, too.ö Then the unbelievable happened. As her tiny hands stroked the great shaggy head, I heard the gentle thump, thump, thumping of the wolfÆs tail from deep inside the stump.

What was wrong with the animal? I wondered. Why couldnÆt he get up? I couldnÆt tell. Nor did I dare to step any closer. I glanced at the empty water bowl. My memory flashed back to the five skunks that last week had torn the burlap from a leaking pipe in a frenzied effort to reach water during the final agonies of rabies. Of course! Rabies! Warning signs had been posted all over the county, and hadnÆt Becky said, ôheÆs so thirstyö? I had to get Becky away. ôHoney.ö My throat tightened. ôPut his head down and come to Mama. WeÆll go find help.ö

Reluctantly, Becky got up and kissed the wolf on the nose before she walked slowly into my outstretched arms. Sad yellow eyes followed her. Then the wolfÆs head sank to the ground. With Becky safe in my arms, I ran to the barns where Brian, one of our cowhands, was saddling up to check heifers in the north pasture.

ôBrian! Come quickly. Becky found a wolf in the oak stump near the wash! I think it has rabies!ö ôIÆll be there in a jiffy,ö he said as I hurried back to the house, anxious to put Becky down for her nap. I didnÆt want her to see Brian come out of the bunkhouse. I knew heÆd have a gun. ôBut I want to give my doggy his water,ö she cried. I kissed her and gave her some stuffed animals to play with. ôHoney, let Mom and Brian take care of him for now,ö I said.

Moments later, I reached the oak stump. Brian stood looking down at the beast. ôItÆs a Mexican lobo, all right,ö he said, ôand a big one!ö The wolf whined. Then we both caught the smell of gangrene.

ôWhew! ItÆs not rabies,ö Brian said. ôBut heÆs sure hurt real bad. DonÆt you think itÆs best I put him out of his misery?ö The word ôyesö was on my lips, when Becky emerged from the bushes. ôIs Brian going to make him well, Mama?ö She hauled the animalÆs head onto her lap once more, and buried her face in the coarse, dark fur. This time I wasnÆt the only one who heard the thumping of the loboÆs tail.

That afternoon my husband, Bill, and our veterinarian came to see the wolf. Observing the trust the animal had in our child, Doc said to me, ôSuppose you let Becky and me tend to this fella together.ö Minutes later, as child and vet reassured the stricken beast, the hypodermic found its mark. The yellow eyes closed.

"He's asleep now," said the vet. "Give me a hand here, Bill." They hauled the massive body out of the stump. The animal must have been over five feet long and well over one-hundred pounds. The hip and leg had been mutilated by bullets. Doc did what he had to in order to clean the wound and then gave the patient a dose of penicillin. Next day he returned and inserted a metal rod to replace the missing bone.

"Well, it looks like you've got yourselves a Mexican Zobo," Doc said. "He looks to be about three years old, and even as pups, they don't tame real easy. I'm amazed at the way this big fella took to your little gal. But often there's something that goes on between children and animals that we grownups don't understand."

Becky named the wolf Ralph and carried food and water to the stump every day. Ralph's recovery was not easy. For three months he dragged his injured hindquarters by clawing the earth with his front paws. From the way he lowered his eyelids when we massaged the atrophied limbs, we knew he endured excruciating pain, but not once did he ever try to bite the hands of those who cared for him.

Four months to the day, Ralph finally stood unaided. His huge frame shook as long-unused muscles were activated. Bill and I patted and praised him. But it was Becky to whom he turned for a gentle word, a kiss or a smile. He responded to these gestures of love by swinging his bushy tail like a pendulum.

As his strength grew, Ralph followed Becky all over the ranch. Together they roamed the desert pastures, the golden-haired child often stooping low, sharing with the great lame wolf whispered secrets of nature's wonders. When evening came, he returned like a silent shadow to his hollow stump that had surely become his special place. As time went on, although he lived primarily in the brush, the habits of this timid creature endeared him more and more to all of us.

His reaction to people other than our family was yet another story. Strangers terrified him, yet his affection for and protectiveness of Becky brought him out of the desert and fields at the sight of every unknown pickup or car. Occasionally he'd approach, lips taut, exposing a nervous smile full of chattering teeth. More often he'd simply pace and finally skulk off to his tree stump, perhaps to worry alone.

Becky's first day of school was sad for Ralph. After the bus left, he refused to return to the yard. Instead, he lay by the side of the road and waited. When Becky returned, he limped and tottered in wild, joyous circles around her. This welcoming ritual persisted throughout her school years.

Although Ralph seemed happy on the ranch, he disappeared into the surrounding deserts and mountains for several weeks during the spring mating season, leaving us to worry about his safety. This was calving season, and fellow ranchers watched for coyotes, cougars, wild dogs and, of course, the lone wolf. But Ralph was lucky.

During Ralph's twelve years on our ranch, his habits remained unchanged. Always keeping his distance, he tolerated other pets and endured the activities of our busy family, but his love for Becky never wavered. Then the spring came when our neighbor told us he'd shot and killed a she-wolf and grazed her mate, who had been running with her. Sure enough, Ralph returned home with another bullet wound.

Becky, nearly fifteen years old now, sat with Ralph's head resting on her lap. He, too, must have been about fifteen and was gray with age. As Bill removed the bullet, my memory raced back through the years. Once again I saw a chubby three-year-old girl stroking the head of a huge black wolf and heard a small voice murmuring, "It's all right, boy. Don't be afraid. That's my mama, and she loves you, too.ö

Although the wound wasn't serious, this time Ralph didn't get well. Precious pounds fell away. The once luxurious fur turned dull and dry, and his trips to the yard in search of Becky's companionship ceased. All day long he rested quietly.

But when night fell, old and stiff as he was, he disappeared into the desert and surrounding hills. By dawn his food was gone.

The morning came when we found him dead. The yellow eyes were closed. Stretched out in front of the oak stump, he appeared but a shadow of the proud beast he once had been. A lump in my throat choked me as I watched Becky stroke his shaggy neck, tears streaming down her face. "I'll miss him so," she cried.

Then as I covered him with a blanket, we were startled by a strange rustling sound from inside the stump. Becky looked inside. Two tiny yellow eyes peered back and puppy fangs glinted in the semi-darkness. Ralph's pup!

Had a dying instinct told him his motherless offspring would be safe here, as he had been, with those who loved him? Hot tears spilled on baby fur as Becky gathered the trembling bundle in her arms. "It's all right, little ... Ralphie," she murmured. "Don't be afraid. That's my mom, and she loves you, too.ö

¬ 1997 Penny Porter

All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of Health Communications, Inc. from Chicken Soup for the Pet LoverÆs Soul


Product Details

  • Series: Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Health Communications Inc; First Scholastic Printing edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558745718
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558745711
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,170,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Most of the series of 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' has the kind of warm and fuzzy story that many find endearing and sweet. They are not 'deep' most of the time, but do point to things beyond themselves; for my own use, I often find sermon illustrations and stories within the pages of volumes of Chicken Soup -- as chaplain at a retirement centre, many of the stories help people to recall happier times, and help them deal with their present situation.
This particular volume involves stories with animals. The relationship between animals and people of all ages can make for some of the funniest, most heart-warming, most sad, and most meaningful stories. There are contributing authors of some note (Barbara Bush, James Herriot, Jimmy Stewart, Gilda Radner, Art Linkletter) among other authors who had stories to tell and volunteered them. Much in the manner that Readers Digest accepts unsolicited stories from amateur authors, so does the Chicken Soup series. Often the most meaningful stories are those that happen to people who are not professional writers.
Few animals are left out here, as many animals have come to be companions with humans over the centuries. Dogs and cats feature prominently, as do horses and other farm animals, but there are also wolves, birds, dolphins, deer, wild turkeys, gorillas and even a Christmas mouse. The stories cover a wide range of topics, including pets as friends and healers, animals as rescuers and performers of other amazing feats, animals whose companionship meant a lot, and finally on the sadness and meaning of saying goodbye to an important family member.
Each of this stories can easily be read in a short time.
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Format: Hardcover
Being a true pet lover, I found this book to be absolutely magnificent. The heartwarming collection of stories exemplify the loyalty and love of animals. In this book, you'll read touching stories about how our healers, teachers, friends, and heroes are often our pets! After reading these real-life tales, I began to realize how much my own pet (a Quarter Horse mare) meant to me. I guarantee that after reading "Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul," you will begin to see your furry friends in a whole new light. I highly recommend this astounding book to any pet lover!
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Format: Paperback
Anyone who truly loves their pet will be deeply moved and touched by these stories. There is inspiration, joy, love, and sadness in these pages, but they all reflect the wonders of our pets and how fortunate we are to have them. Some people don't understand how and why I treat my pets so lovingly and consider them my family. The biker cliche is appropriate here; "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand." Also, my own personal philosophy applies; "I never met anything on four legs I didn't like. I can't say the same for two legs."
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Format: Paperback
Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul is a fantastic book for anyone who has a special place in his or her heart for animals. The book was made up of many different stories describing the special qualities that make our pets and furry friends unique. I rated this book a 5 because I found myself crying one minute and laughing the next. There are stories that will make you giggle, one in particular describes buffalo playing a game on ice. It made me realize that there are many things about animals that we don't understand- and never will. Who would have guessed that buffalo play games? The book also included stories that sent tears down my cheek. The story that stands out the most in my mind is a story about how far a mother cats goes to save her kittens. The love of the mother cat can relate to human mothers as well, they will do anything to protect their children. I believe that animals are fantastic teachers. One story in the book talks about how a gorilla helped to rescue an injured (human) boy after he fell into her area in the zoo. The author of that story explained that what is truly amazing about the gorilla is that she helped the boy without caring about recognition. She helped the boy because she wanted to, she didn't know that recognition was even a part of the act. That is exactly what us humans can learn from these animals. We need to help somebody because it's the thing to do, not because we want to be remembered as a hero.
I would recommend Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul for anyone who enjoys animals or just wants to read a book that make you warm and fuzzy inside. The stories in the book will show you exactly why pets are teachers, healers, heroes and friends. You will realize how special they really are.
Also check out Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul for stories about teenagers that will inspire you.
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Format: Paperback
My beloved dog recently passed away and a friend lent me the book. The whole book was great, but the best one was "The Rainbow Bridge." This is one book to read over and over!!!
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Format: Paperback
Many stories to touch the heart--and the soul. Our pets become part of us; their unconditional love is something we treasure. When we are faced with losing them the pain and sorrow go beyond words to express!
After you read this book and smile-- and cry-- I would like to recommend two other wonderful books: one is FOR EVERY DOG AN ANGEL, an absolutely marvelous little book, that even though written for children, adults will love even more! The angel stays with pup throughout its life; "forever dog" and its "forever person" will eventually reunite; sometimes the dog will cross back over its "angel bridge" to visit in the interim. The author has had several experiences with her "forever dog", "Martha"; I have had a few with my little ones as well.
The next recommendation is for adults: THE SOUL OF YOUR PET. Stunning, solid evidence of animal afterlife; will startle the most hardened of skeptics. In addition, it is biblically-sound regarding pet afterlife.
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