If you have found yourself here reading this article then there’s a good chance you are a big lover of all animals. As an animal communicator I understand how we can live better lives with animals, whether they are pets of wild animals. Teaching children about compassion with animals is very important as they are the next generation, so a whole lot depends on them having a deeper understanding of our furry friends. Thankfully there are people out there who are dedicating their time to this, and I was fortunate to come across Susan Keefe the other day who is taking a very creative approach to it. Read the interview to find out how Susan is bringing awareness to the younger generation, and helping animal shelters out at the same time…
Susan can you describe how your love of animals came about?
All my life I have loved all animals, and have been lucky enough to live in the country. My family always had pets, I loved walking our Labrador Kim, and adored horses. My dream of owning one was finally fulfilled aged 14. My brother and I spent hours over the fields watching wildlife and this is something I enjoy doing now with our Border Collie Toby.
My paternal Granddad William Spore was a real countryman and from an early age I can remember walking round the field with him learning about squirrel’s dreys, where to find ducks eggs, and how to recognise various birds and wild animals.
Would you call yourself an animal communicator?
Yes I would, in fact I have always been one. Some may call me nutty but I have always talked to my animals, and any animals and birds I meet. I believe they understand us. We live in a very quiet spot in the middle of the countryside and my husband actually switches off most of the time because I talk to the animals as if they are humans. Animals after all only know packs, herds, flocks so they naturally want to be part of your life. We always joke that wherever I go my husband always knows because I have the three cats, and Toby following me and my horse Marine is always looking the direction I have headed. It is wonderful to have such a close interaction with them.
Tell us about your first book, Toby’s Tails
When we moved to France we bought with us two elderly Golden Retrievers. When one died we decided to just have the one dog until one day we were visiting some new people with our goat, as you do, and there peeping through the gate was a family of Border Collies. I fell instantly in love with one, our Toby, and the rest is history.
As soon as he was old enough we collected him, and we have never been apart since. He visits the U.K. regularly with us and is on his fourth Pet Passport.
He is an amazing dog, loyal, obedient and incredibly clever. We walk around the woods and fields in total silence watching wildlife and enjoying each other’s company. Because he is so good I never have to call him, which means we see a lot of wildlife and we are also very lucky because we are on the edge of the beautiful Foret de Berce and have hundreds of acres to walk around with no roads too close.
Writing stories featuring him is easy, we are so in tune to each other and never apart.
And you have written the Fantasy Farm Tales series for children, how did that come about?
One day, I was sitting at the computer and just decided to write about him, the animals on our smallholding, and the wildlife around us. The writing just flowed and before long Toby’s Tails was in draft. The other books just come to me the same. Our life deep in the countryside, our animals and the wonderful natural world around us is a constant inspiration.
How do you think your books are teaching children about animals?
I hope, and I have been told many times in the various reviews posted on Amazon, that my books make the readers feel differently about animals. I am told that my style of writing ‘through Toby’s eyes’ gives the reader a different perspective. This is what I am always aiming for.
I believe that if children look at, handle and observe animals as sentient souls and not toys then the natural progression will be to treat them better.
Animal shelters are close to your heart, how are you helping them?
Loving animals, it is impossible not to admire the wonderful job the owners and volunteers at Animal Shelters do. I do support the Border Collie Trust GB in various ways, including naming them as my chosen charity on the Give as You Live website https://www.giveasyoulive.com/. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, you register and pick a charity to support and then when you buy online from many stores in the UK, Amazon, Debenhams, john Lewis etc., you choose to ‘give as you live’ and a donation is given by the company you buy from, direct to the charity you support. You can change charities if you wish at any time, and it cost you nothing, a win, win situation for charities.
Last autumn we rescued three little kittens and they are adorable. At Christmas, they wreaked havoc with the tree and we took hundreds of photos of them. This summer we learnt of a local Animal Shelter and I decided to write Toby’s Tails – The Christmas Kittens. The shelter, Helianthus, was very pleased to be associated with the book and there will be a donation to them of 10% of the profit from each book sold. To increase its exposure, as well as being in English, the book has been translated into French and Spanish.
Children are the future, how else do you think we can educate them to better understand our animal friends?
I think all we can do as parents and grandparents is to teach children to behave and respect life in general. I firmly believe that there is too much emphasis placed on giving children possessions and not time, which is what they really want, and what they will remember as adults. Parents should spend more time with their children, supervising their behaviour and taking responsibility for their upbringing. If we teach our children respect for others I truly believe it will transfer to animals as well.
So if you have children, or grandchildren(!), please consider teaching them about compassion with animals. And with Christmas fast approaching, why not buy some of Susan’s books to help inspire our next generation to help the animals. All the books are available from all Amazon sites in Paperback and Kindle format at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Susan-Keefe/e/B007DV5UX6