New Book Provocatively Asks: "How Much Do Dogs Really Know?"

Recounting his startling true experiences in a new memoir -- an Bestseller Hot 100 New Release - a Minnesota author challenges current research on how much dogs are consciously aware of human needs.

When a Minnesota best-selling animal book author received the shocking news that although only in his mid-fifties, he had two potentially fatal health issues - a brain aneurysm, which could rupture at any time, and a blood clot aimed at his heart -- his canine family member showed that he somehow understood the dire situation. A Dog Named Leaf: The Hero from Heaven Who Saved My Life by Allen Anderson (Lyons Press, November 2012) includes a strange but true example of animal cognition that leaves readers pondering, "What do dogs really know?" For more information and to read an excerpt go to Visit the book's Facebook page and view photos of Leaf at

"Leaf showed empathy for me that went far beyond anything I've ever experienced," Anderson says. "It's tough to anticipate your possible demise, and the aftermath of surgery and recovery are harrowing. But even other people came to know my dog as intuitive and compassionate. Leaf is my hero."

Researchers are using neuroscience tools such as MRIs to figure out just how much dogs understand human language and to test their responsiveness and empathy. But Anderson experienced firsthand that if you have a conversation about your impending death in front of a dog who loves you, expect miracles to occur.

Scientists are attempting to peer inside canine minds and motives. Psychologist Stanley Coren, University of British Columbia, claims some dogs have a vocabulary of up to 250 words. Goldsmiths College did a study of empathy in dogs and found that canine companions consistently attempt to comfort people in distress. Anderson recounts an incident that would never be duplicated in a research setting. It happened in the home where this emotionally scarred rescued cocker spaniel found love and security for the first time. Shortly after his diagnosis Anderson awoke from a horrific dream, which predicted he wouldn't survive, to find Leaf licking his face. In Leaf's presence he told his wife about the nightmare. Later, he recognized when his dog's unusual actions served as an empathic message in response to the dream.

"Dr. Marty Becker, resident veterinarian on the Dr. Oz Show and Good Morning America, calls Anderson's new book: "A dramatic dual journey that explores intangibles of health and healing without attempting to explain them away. This is truly the most unusual dog book ever."

About Angel Animals Network:
Allen Anderson is an inspirational speaker and coauthor of a series of books about the benefits of having pets as family members. In 1996 he and his wife Linda Anderson cofounded the Angel Animals Network to share stories that convey uplifting messages about relationships between people and animals. In 2007 Allen and Linda's book about animal rescue won the American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award. In 2004 Allen and Linda each received State of Minnesota Certificate of Commendation awards in recognition of their contributions as authors. In 2011 they were named Partners and Friends of American Humane Association in recognition that their mission and efforts are in alignment with the organization's work. In addition to being an author, Allen is a photographer and a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center. He and Linda live in Minnesota with their cat and bird and, of course, his buddy Leaf.

A Dog Named Leaf ($16.95, ISBN-10: 0762781654, ISBN-13: 978-0762781652), a 224-page paperback published by Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot, is available at major online book retailers, in bookstores, and at