Ellen Burstyn's dog gave the veteran actress the courage to adopt after she was the pooch mothering a stuffed toy after her own pregnancy upset. The Requiem for a Dream star was left unable to have children of her own after a terrifying illegal abortion ordeal when she was a teenager and spent years in her 20s considering adoption but never following through with her plans. She says, "I had already started adoption proceedings but then I started to have doubts, like, 'Will I really love him?' and 'What if he's different or weird in some way and I can't love him?'" That all changed when her pet dog's pregnancy turned out to be a phantom birth and the pooch showed her mistress how to cope with the disappointment of not being able to carry a child. Burstyn recalls, "On the day when she would have delivered if it had been a real pregnancy she suddenly led me to a room and started barking - she wanted something. "I found what she wanted was this little stuffed tiger on the top shelf and I took it down and she nursed it and, for 10 days, she took care of it like it was a real baby. "I just sat and looked at it and I said, 'OK, I get the message, thank you very much.' "I looked up mother in the dictionary and do you know the first definition; it's a verb and you do the verb - you do the mothering and then you become the noun, the mother."