Every now and then, a book comes along that grabs you and doesn't let go. Written by the founder and director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, a haven for abused and discarded farmed animals, Where the Blind Horse Sings is such a book.
Author Kathy Stevens is an exceptional writer. Her story of the birth of Catskill Animal Sanctuary and of the two and four-legged characters who live there is lyrical and alive, alternately funny and moving. Much of the narrative focuses on a blind horse, a former cockfighting rooster, and a ram who arrived so explosive and violent that Stevens briefly contemplated euthanasia as the only way to keep other animals (including the humans) safe. But patience and love persevered, eventually paying off in spades. Suffice it to say that Buddy, Paulie, and Rambo each evolved into larger than life teachers, and through Stevens' skilled storytelling, their lessons linger long after the book is finished.
Beyond the writing, though, it is Stevens' intimacy with the animals about whom she writes that distinguishes Where the Blind Horse Sings from other books about farmed animals and horses. Unlike most authors of such books, she is not a researcher interviewing others about their experiences with animals. Stevens lives and works with the animals: she knows of whom she speaks. When she writes, "Rambo arrived full of testosterone and rage," it is because she was the one to welcome him. When later she describes the night the transformed sheep summoned her to come to the assistance of a blind turkey inadvertently left outside on a cold November night, I wept at the collective victory shared by the human and the sheep she describes as "her greatest teacher."
While commentary about the devastating impact of agribusiness is interspersed throughout the book, it is certainly not the book's focus. Joy is its focus: a clear-headed, unambiguous sharing of the joy its author derives from sharing her life with animals the vast majority of the world sees as mere commodities. The animals arrive angry or terrified, but in their safe haven, become so much more than Stevens, a former educator, imagined possible of a horse or a cow, a pig or a chicken. Who they become has changed her life; it might just change yours. It is certainly a book to share with those in your life who've not yet made the connection between diet and kindness.
* The paperback is now available on Amazon.com; click here to learn more or purchase.
* Information on the work of Catskill Animal Sanctuary available at www.casanctuary.org