BOOKS: For Bea

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  June 2003:

For Bea:
The Story of the Beagle Who Changed My Life
by Kristin Von Kreisler
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam
(375 Hudson street, New York 10014), 2003.  190 pages.  $19.95,  paperback.

During an evening walk Kristin Von Kreisler encountered a
sick and exhausted stray beagle,  and could not just leave the dog
there. She took the beagle home and named her Bea.  She could not
understand why Bea was so strongly afraid of humans,  even those who
were friendliest.  What kind of past could have made her shake from
fear at any human contact?

A tattoo in Bea’s ear explained it– she spent five years in
a laboratory cage,  and probably escaped or was released by someone.
She may have been used in toxicology testing.
For a long time Von Kreisler tried her hardest to win Bea’s
love and trust. Her patience was rewarded:  despite all her
suffering, Bea did learn to love and to trust people.
For many years she lit up Von Kreisler’s life with her
unshakeable love. When her adored guardian had an accident and was
confined to her bed for long months,  Bea sympathized, and day and
night devotedly stayed at her bed.
The purity and sincerity of Bea’s devotion started Von
Kreisler thinking about the millions of other laboratory animals,
who languish in tiny cages and may dream of a warm,  cozy home,  with
a true human friend.
Von Kreisler has given voice to their dreams.  As a staff
writer for Reader’s Digest,  she had written strictly to assignment,
but influenced by Bea she began writing on behalf of animals as well,
producing The Compas-sion of Animals (1997) and Beauty In The Beasts
(2001).  After those successes,  she was at last able to interest her
publisher in Bea’s story.
For Bea describes how the ex-laboratory beagle taught Von
Kreisler about the qualities of faith,  love and patience.
Included are other examples of the committed love of animals
keeping humans from loneliness,  raising spirits,  effecting
psychological cures,  and even saving lives.  Von Kreisler tells the
story of the dog Klutz,  for instance,  who was killed while
protecting a child from a rattlesnake.
Also included in For Bea is a discussion of the origin of
dogs,  and in particular the origin of beagles.
-Tanja Maroueva

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