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Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary Hardcover – May 1, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Giving up a thriving 11-year teaching career, Stevens bought a disastrously rundown farm on a vast number of acres, and with sheer determination, boundless compassion and limited funds turned it into an acclaimed haven for abused livestock, the Catskills Animal Sanctuary. In her first book, Stevens, though she humbly claims "our job was to love and nurture them without expectation," presents the heartening story of the difficult work that has gone into saving more than 1,100 lives since the sanctuary's 2001 founding. The blind horse of the title appears among an eclectic company of pigs, sheep, cows, ducks and other animals with improbably Broadway-sized personalities-personalities revealed as the bond between people and animals strengthens, and the distinctions between them narrow. The anecdotes are fascinating, sometimes miraculous, and their power is undeniable: "I would not have believed that a rooster would so crave physical closeness that he'd demand to get in bed with me or that as he was dying, a gentle old steer named Samson would lick my face over and over until he took his last breath. But this stuff happens all the time." Though sentimentality in this case is de rigeur (how could a book about love for animals avoid it?), the ideas behind Stevens's stories-such as the inherent equality and nobility of all species-are affecting and thought-provoking.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Stevens grew up on a horse farm and later became a teacher, both experiences making her detest suffering in all forms and engendering a desire to teach about the handling of animals. In 2001, she started Catskill Animal Sanctuary on a junk-filled farm. Volunteers cleaned up trash, built a house, repaired the barn, and created shelters and fences--and the animals arrived. One of the first was Rambo, a ram, who went from a charge-everything holy terror to a friendly protector who knew when other animals needed help. When blind horse Buddy arrived, he was afraid to move, but after Stevens taught him that he could trust her not to let him run into things, he "sang" his joy with loud neighing. Paulie, a cockfighting rooster, ended up sharing a bed with Stevens; Oliver the goat was found wandering Manhattan with "sold" painted on his side; little duck Petri was afraid of water; and Franklin the pig learned to manipulate his human caretakers. The theme here is love; the result is a book that will touch all readers. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160239055X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602390553
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kathy Stevens spent her childhood on the rolling hills of a Virginia horse farm. At the height of his success, her father had close to 150 horses at a given time. Add to that the family dogs, a sheep named Babbette who wore diapers in the house, a burro named Linda, George the mynah bird, and Kathy's own show ponies and horses.

Kathy left the South in the early 80's and entered graduate school at Tufts University in 1984. After two years in a public policy program, the idea of making a difference from behind a desk was utterly unappealing. She wanted to impact young people's lives through working directly with them. So she added a third year of graduate school and took her first English teaching job north of Boston in 1987.

In the summer of 1999, after a decade in the classroom, Kathy was offered the principalship of a new high school scheduled to open in Boston in 2000. But to her own astonishment (again), she felt finished with public education. So one warm June day, she made her final end of the year speech to her final group of graduating seniors, encouraging them to be bold, to have courage, to write their own stories. But what was hers to be?

She asked herself the big questions: "What do you love? What do you believe in? What do you do best? She talked with friends. She kept a journal. She cashed in her teacher's retirement to live on while she waited for answers to come. Mostly, she took epic hikes through the woods with her yellow lab and best pal Murphy.

Three insights guided her through this important period of reflection:

1. She detested suffering and felt compelled to address it...in some fashion.

2. She loved teaching, and suspected she would miss the experience of guiding minds toward deeper understanding.

3. She loved and missed having animals in her life.

In 2001, with some good fortune and a great deal of hard work, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, one of the nation's only "teaching sanctuaries," was born.

Eight years later, Catskill Animal Sanctuary has saved over 1,600 farm animals--nearly all of them victims of unspeakable suffering. They have accepted animals seized by police from failed or fraudulent sanctuaries. They have worked with State Police and the New York State Humane Association to prosecute serial abusers who keep scores or hundreds in filth and confinement. On weekends, visitors come to this joy-driven place to meet their remarkable residents, and laugh when Rambo the sheep demands to have his rear end scratched, or when Franklin, their young orphaned pig, trots up and says, "Glad you're here!!! Have anything to eat??!"

With meaningful relationships, a wonderful partner, and her best pal Murphy tagging along everywhere she goes, Kathy Stevens continues to live a blessed life. She is puzzled when people refer to her as a "hero" or a "saint." "How many people are fortunate enough to do what they love, what they believe in?" Kathy asks. "I'm the luckiest person I know. Catskill Animal Sanctuary is simply my gift to the world--a thank you for a life filled with opportunity. It's a place that embodies everything I believe in--and what I believe in, essentially, is love."

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By BER on April 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most heartwarming books I have ever read. You can tell it was written by someone who loves what's she's doing. I had the good fortune to meet Kathy Stevens shortly after she opened her sanctuary, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that she does go around kissing the animals and singing to them. I also had the good fortune to meet many of the animals that Kathy writes about, like Buddy, Samson and Rambo among others. This book describes what many of us already know...animals are intelligent and have feelings and emotions. Interspersed among the many uplifting stories are lessons on what farm animals endure on the farm and how they are slaughtered (the descriptions are not pretty, but unfortunately, that is the reality for these animals). Even with these lessons, this book is heartwarming and an absolute joy to read. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By anoot on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After my brother-in-law & family visited the CAS and became a vegetarian, truly a jaw-dropping feat, I knew this place must be pretty special. Then, they gave me a copy of this book for my birthday and I became a vegetarian!! I've laughed out loud and cried - make that 'sobbed' so hard. I've read (the happy) parts to my children at bedtime. This book so powerfully fills you with emotion that I can pretty much guarantee you too will be inspired to do something ...something life-changing, be it for yourself or some other inhabitant of this earth. It is a wake-up call for your soul! Thank you Kathy and your amazing volunteers for being real life angels.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By debu on July 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is impossible to read this book without smiling, often laughing aloud and genuinely feeling connected to the stories within. Ms. Stevens intimately shares with us the life changing events that led her in each vocation to reach for higher goals and deeper meanings. This book is about faith, trust, hope, tenacity and heartfelt compassion for those sentient beings around us who so want and need our care. Each vignette is lovely. Lessons learned are etched. A wonderful, well written book. A pure joy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Beverly F. Feinstein on May 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If I could rate this book higher than five stars, I would. At Catskill Animal Sanctuary, the animals are loved "til death do us part." This book will change your view of the "ordinary" farm animal. It will compel you to think before you eat. It will make you want to support the work of the Sanctuary. And, it will entertain you with heartwarming stories of love and healing that you wouldn't have believed possible. Buy it, read it, recommend it to everyone you know. This book should be on the bestseller list.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Lajeunesse on July 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a wondeful book entertaining and enlightening to read. I heard the author on NPR then went out and bought this book. From the time I started to read it I couldn't put it down. I've been around horses most of my adult life and have gained a new appreciation for not only horses but all animals. So many misconceptions about them established growing up. Kathy Stevens is a true Rain Maker and should be congradulated for her fine work. Buy this book you won't be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JT on August 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book had my emotions running hot and cold. I would smile and laugh at one moment and then be in tears another. The work these people are doing is just beyond words. Thank God there are people out there that have the privilege and means to do what they do. I read this book in one sitting.......I could NOT put it down. If you are an animal lover, please read this. After finishing the book, I was left with a good feeling...that so many of these creatures finally had a good, loving, caring environment. I could almost feel myself in the saddle on the horse and FEEL his joy at once again being allowed to run in the pasture. It was exhilarating!! Read it! You will come away with that good feeling, too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Connie L. Morris on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I live near the Catskill Animal Sanctuary and know of the great work accomplished at this place of kindness. Thank goodness we have shelters such as this. Kathy Stevens, the author shares such a wealth of information about animals we think of as "just a pig, just a chicken, just a cow" etc. I would like to see it on a list of good summer reading for students. It is the youth that will have to initiate change and I think this book will help them make intelligent choices. Please be assured that this is a book for adults too, and we can make changes also. The pages fly by and at the end - you want more more more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dancing Jackaroo on January 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
For the most part I enjoyed reading this book. I have always believed that animals are unique individuals with thoughts, feelings, and personalities, so reading about the different creatures that inhabit the sanctuary was a satisfying and positive experience. The author obviously knows her animals well, and creates lifelike descriptions of them. As with any good biography, you come away from the book feeling as if you had almost met some of the main animals in person. Furthermore, the love that the author mentions on almost every page is evident and believable. It doesn't feel like someone trying to fundraise or get on a soapbox just to twist your arm.

On the other hand, I did find some weaknesses as well, hence the 3 stars. The first is that while several animals are described briefly throughout the book, only some are mentioned in any depth, and the writing seems to flit around. I have read books written by heads of non-profits that are collections of newsletter stories strung together to give you a feel for the organization, and that's a bit of what this felt like. I enjoyed each section and chapter individually, but strung together they didn't have as much substance as I would have liked.

The other issue that I had was a more philosophical question that I felt the author didn't address. As many other reviewers have mentioned, she is proudly and unapologetically vegetarian, and advocates for universal vegetarianism so that farm animals can live the lives of dignity and freedom that they deserve. What she doesn't address is what would happen to farm animals were all humans to become vegetarian. While I can agree that animals do not exist for our benefit, it is an unavoidable fact that most of them are in the world because humans have a vested interest in keeping them around.
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