In her first book, Animals as Teachers and Healers, Susan Chernak McElroy shared stories about the special bonds between humans and animals. The loyalty and love of a pet are all some people have to help them make it through illness, divorce, and other crises. In Heart in the Wild: A Journey of Self-Discovery with Animals of Wilderness, she related the teachings of a courageous hummingbird, a rattlesnake, and a fox who provided guidance during a transitional period in her life. This new paperback contains 10 fine stories of healing and transformation accompanied by reflections and practices. The three- fold structure of each chapter enables McElroy to spin out all the possible ramifications of the Native American phrase "all my relations."

In the first chapter, the author reflects on things she learned from Misty, her first cat. She notes: "Animals come and go purposefully through our childhood, leaving tracks that still live and breath within us." You will be spurred to remember and reconnect with your first encounters with pets or wild animals. McElroy knows that many of us still have fears about certain kinds of animals, especially those we have stereotyped or demonized. She illustrates what we can learn from these animals by recounting her intimate encounter with a spider: "The spider and I had accomplished a miracle together that afternoon. I brought myself, my fear, and my willingness for things to be different to that pet shop, and the spider brought me the transformative mystery of herself. Across the barriers of culture and species, she spoke to me of life as it looks encased in a stiff and fragile body. From inside of that body — a small and hairy thing — she revealed to me simply and masterfully that a larger body of mind and spirit resided there. I don't know what, if anything, I revealed to her. I hope in some way she felt through my skin a sense of my awe and appreciation of her, and of my unspeakable gratitude toward her."

In other chapters, McElroy shares stories about a chicken, a gray wolf who served as a power animal in a nine-week visualization practice to boost her cancer fighting cells, a river elk, a dog bred to protect, a chimpanzee, and an old horse given to her by a Native American friend. The author's keen gift for storytelling comes across in these accounts and reinforces our appreciation for the mystery and otherness of creatures who walk, swim, and fly.