Author Brenda Peterson has led a charmed life among animals. But her book Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals, makes clear that her life is charmed only because she has always gone out of her way to meet the animals more than halfway. The experiences she comes back to report–among dolphins, whales, dogs, cats, bears–startled and often moved me to tears. Who knew that a whale in deep mourning over the loss of her calf would take a woman’s arm in her mouth and gently “sound” the woman? Who knew that dolphins are so emotionally telepathic that they will hone in on a woman in constant pain or choose to dance her through the water in the grip of their fins and their deep wells of compassion? I put this book down thinking, I must pay more attention. I must be present and notice the incredible intelligence that shares this planet with me and open my heart wide to its messages and its plight, which is my own. (Who knew that a dolphin’s or whale’s milk is often so laden with heavy metals and other toxins that it can and often does kill nursing young–or that the same is true of Inuit women who depend on a diet of whale blubber?) Peterson demonstrates again and again that we share a soul with animals and that their future and ours are inextricably linked.