BOOKS: Love, Miracles, and Animal Healing

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

Love, Miracles, and Animal Healing: A Veterinarian’s Journey from
Physical Medicine to Spiritual Understanding, by Allen M. Schoen, DVM,
and Pam Proctor. Simon & Schuster (1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY
10020), 1995. 236 pages, $22.00.
I didn’t know what to expect when I
saw a testimonial by Henry Kissinger on the
cover of Love, Miracles, and Animal
H e a l i n g. It was so bizarre as to pique by
interest immediately. When did Henry
Kissinger begin to concern himself with the
“emotional as well as the physical needs” of
animals? Allen Schoen, the New England
veterinarian who authored the book with Pam
Proctor, sounded like the Norman Vincent
Peale of the finned and fuzzy. In fact, I sus-
pected Dr. Schoen himself was a bit fuzzy.

Chapter one, “Megan’s Miracles,”
opens with Albert Schweitzer’s prayer for the
animals. Nice, but I try to avoid sentimental
goo at this stage of the game. Fortunately the
sweetness soon gave way to a straightforward
account of battling a seriously bad case of
heartworm that threatened the life of a home-
less and pathetic golden retriever, whom he
would name Megan and promise to keep if
only she would live. Schoen goes on to
describe a boyhood spent studying and caring
for animals, and a transformational experi-
ence in a western wilderness involving a
death battle between a snake and a wild fer-
ret. He tells of his years studying to be a vet-
erinarian, first working on a graduate degree
at the University of Illinois, where he
announces to his advisor that, “I will not do
any research that hurts animals.” Later he
attends Cornell vet school, and spends much
time on “alternative” projects.
Schoen is obviously sincere in his
love for animals, and clearly believes in a
higher ethic. Still, there are lapses in his
consciousness. Some of his most meaningful
encounters with animals take place on fishing
trips. It is unclear also if all his emoting over
cows and pigs has led him to forswear eating
them. Language betrays some other possible
inconsistencies, such as a jarring comparison
of the luxurious coat of a once sickly cat with
“ranch mink.” Perhaps these are just the
words of Schoen’s collaborator.
Like a new-age James Herriott, Dr.
Schoen uses anecdotal accounts of animals he
has known and healed to illustrate concepts
of interspecies communion, empathy, and
devotion. He also makes a convincing case,
as a scientifically well-trained veterinarian,
for including alternative therapies such as
acupuncture and homeopathy along with the
traditional modalities of veterinary practice.
This is a book most animal people
will enjoy, and it would make a great gift for
one’s own veterinarian.
––Kim Bartlett
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