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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

June 23, 1996|Lynn Simross

ANIMALS AS TEACHERS & HEALERS By Susan Chernak McElroy (New Sage Press: $12.95; 178 pp.). This unusual first book is a collection of stories from animal lovers across the country, recounting how animals, both domestic and wild, profoundly affected their lives. McElroy weaves her personal tales and those of others with the threads of love and inspiration offered to humans by animals.

There's McElroy's special dog Keesha who helped give her courage in her fight to survive cancer; a dolphin named Genie who assisted a young woman in dealing with the sexual abuse she had suffered as a child; Homer, the stray dog who inspired his new companion, an alcoholic man, to quit drinking and join Alcoholics Anonymous. An animal mission impossible? Not when you read these moving stories.

McElroy, who lives on a farm in Oregon with her husband and many four-legged creatures, hopes her book "will awaken readers to a different, richer way of seeing the world and its many nations, both human and animal." The "animal angels" she has chronicled in her book seem to have taught valuable lessons to those who chose to listen and share a closeness with them. Some of the poignant stories, several from ignored or abused children who have found solace from a pet, can bring tears to readers.

"I think people are just aching for that closeness," says McElroy. "People really are looking to establish bonds with beings not human. Being with animals and with nature is just good for our hearts and souls."

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