Meet Janne Swearengen, a 77-year-old author from Madison, Mississippi, who wrote and published her first book at 75 years old.
Swearengen began her career as a history teacher. Later in life, she followed her passion for elderly care. Intending to improve elderly care, she worked with the Long Term Care Institute from Madison, Wisconsin as part of a team that developed a protocol to assess care in nursing homes all over the state and country.
Although each chapter of her life had been unique, the ongoing theme was the same: The desire to care for and rescue others. Her next chapter? Animal rescue.
“On October 28, 2020, we brought home a tiny Yorkie rescued from a hoarding house of horrors. We spotted her online as a rescue at the veterinarian we utilized and KNEW we had to adopt her. After getting the adoption green-light from Pippa Jackson at the Animal Rescue Fund of MS, we immediately contacted her foster Mom. We arranged to pick her up on that special day. “
“It was a day that our world changed, and we began to experience what we came to know as ‘The Angela Effect.’ As nervous as she was on that first day, she made herself at home after assessing her new surroundings and a new sibling, a rescue chihuahua named Mike Tyson.”
“Angela was estimated to be around 13 years old, so no spring Yorkie. She came to us with an assortment of conditions, each one a considerable challenge.
“She had lost her lower jaw and all of her teeth. She had a ‘crackerjack’ (cataract) on one of her eyes which blinded her; she was heart-worm positive, hard of hearing, and, perhaps most challenging, an assortment of mammary gland tumors all over her little belly, an indication of a life spent producing puppies.”
“She was not troubled at all..fit right in, ate what she was given with gratitude, and became an instant lap dog. But, the best was yet to come.”
“After several nights in her donut bed on the floor next to me, we discovered that Angela could ‘sing.’ Yes! Sing! Between midnight and dawn, we began to hear what sounded like humming and finally learned it was Angela. We began to record her ‘songs’ to prove she sang herself through her troubles. We felt compelled to share her story and wrote a short piece on FaceBook titled ‘The Yorkie Who Sings at Midnight.'”
Encouraged by friends and family, Swearengen wrote her first book at 75. With a passion for rescuing people her whole life, this book had been waiting to be written. What started as a Facebook post eventually became a book by the same name.
The Yorkie Who Sings at Midnight is beautifully illustrated by high school sophomore Kalyb James of Madison. Kalyb’s work on the book earned him a Scholastic Gold Star and Congressional Recognition.
“Known as ‘Team Janngela’ we began to speak and read from our book, with Angela in tow, at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities.” The residents adored her, and she adored bringing them her sweet and loving nature. As Angela’s story unfolded, describing her years of mistreatment, poor to no care, and little attention, it became clear that Angela’s capacity to turn bad into good became apparent. She had no ill will toward anyone and provided living proof of reconciliation, kindness, and a caring soul (in her foster home, she would not eat until she ensured all her fellow fosters had their meals). She was a pure example of “Do Unto Others’.”
The Angela Effect not only embodies the spirit of animal rescue, but it also exemplifies the importance of caring for others.
Angela passed away from cancer last year, but her legacy lives on through Swearengen’s book. She and her family named her Angela because they considered her an angel.
“One of the book’s chapters is titled ‘To Love Forward,’ which captures Angela’s capacity of reconciliation to be positive no matter what. We hope everyone finds that same joy in reading all about her and feeling ‘The Angela Effect.’