Connie’s Book Club – Fall 10
Even Bad Dogs Go to Heaven
With Stephen Huneck sadly passing this past January, fans will especially cherish his latest and last book, Even Bad
Dogs Go To Heaven: More from the Dog Chapel. This final offering, like the actual Dog Chapel Huneck built, lightens the heart.
A bit of back-story: after overcoming a serious illness, Huneck was inspired to build Dog Chapel, an 1820s-style Vermont church on Dog Mountain, a hill on Huneck’s mountain-top farm. During his convalescence, Huneck reflected on life and death and rituals performed to lessen the pain and achieve closure. This reflection resulted in his creation of Dog Chapel and the two Dog Chapel-inspired books, Dog Chapel and Even Bad Dogs Go To Heaven, intended to help people find closure after losing a beloved dog. Huneck’s dog-centric philosophy comes alive in his last colourful and poignant book celebrating and reflecting on the special love we hold for our dogs, ultimately reinforcing Huneck’s belief that “dogs bring us closer to nature, help us live in the moment, and make us feel unconditionally loved.” A perfect gift for a
bereaved pet parent or, for that matter, anyone who loves their dog.
Allie Larkin’s first novel, Stay, is a charming tale of love, loss, discovery, and healing.
Smitten with Peter Clarke since she quite literally ran into him six years before, Savannah is head over heels in love. That is, until Peter chooses to marry her best friend rather than her. Devastated, Savannah’s world falls apart and, relying on alcohol to get her through, her life spirals out of control. It’s not until, on a whim, she brings Joe, an unruly 100-pound German Shepherd, to live with her that she starts to pick up the pieces of her life. She leans on her new best furry friend for love and support and in the process learns that not only is recovery from crushing heartbreak possible, but that adventure, fun, and, yes, even romance can blossom.
Scent of the Missing
Time and again dogs have proven themselves invaluable in the search for those missing or injured in disasters and tragedies, but few of us know how Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs are chosen or what’s involved in training them. In Scent
of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog, we follow author Susannah Charleson’s adventures training with a police SAR team as she shadows qualified
rescue dogs and their handlers in their CSI-like work. Once she is qualified to train and run beside her own search dog, she chooses a Golden Retriever she names Puzzle, a puppy whose willfulness and strong drive are important working-dog assets, but make training all the more challenging, even for someone like Charleson who has raised dogs for years. The riveting story chronicles their partnership from puppyhood training through to actual searches for the lost. I found myself spellbound by their ability to read and unravel clues in their SAR work, as well moved by the deep bond the two form to make an inseparable team.
The Divine Life of Animals
Tompkins’ Divine Life of Animals: One Man’s Quest to Discover Whether the Souls of Animals Live On
investigates recovering “a way of understanding animals that will allow us to see them as the genuine soul-beings they are and always have been.” Supported by well-
researched archeological, historical, and theological works, this interesting and thought-provoking book strives to lead us to the conclusion that indeed animals do go to heaven, a theory that many of us who have lost and mourned the death of a beloved pet will be more than happy to hear.
Heartrending yet ultimately inspiring,
Carol Bradley’s investigative reporting on the busting of a puppy mill is truly an eye-opener. The cramped, horrific, unsanitary living conditions these sorry dogs must endure, devoid of any socialization or exercise is no less than heartbreaking.
Their offspring are taken well before the recommended 8 to 10 weeks of age and the operators,
more concerned with profits than the treatment of the dogs or the health of their puppies, pedal the underage and often sick or health-comprised offspring to the unaware public, frequently with falsified kennel registration documents. Many of the breeding
dog’s feet have never even touched the ground as they are never relieved from the squalid cages they’re housed in.
Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped The Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills chronicles the journey of Gracie, or Dog 132, from a puppy mill breeding cage to a complete reversal of fortune, her change in fate orchestrated by a group of concerned animal lovers, including humane society officials, police officers, shelter workers, prosecutors and, last but not least, the person she finds her forever home with. This stirring story of survival and redemption should be required reading for anyone who loves animals.
Dogs & The Women Who Love Them
This compelling book of true stories about women and their dogs underscores what many of us have experienced with our own pups, that a special dog can led to a revelation or shift in perception, setting one on a path of adventure and self-discovery. In one story, the dog acted as a
catalyst for a complete and much needed change in lifestyle and career, while in another, a dog’s personality so closely mirrored his humans that she finally saw herself through her dog and realized her type-A personality kept her inflexible, overly busy, and grumpy. Her “Aha” epiphany forced her to relax, slow down, and enjoy the moment, and, amazingly, once she did, so did her dog. Each of the inspirational stories is followed by a thought-provoking meditation that poses a question for reflection such as “What dog has been your loyal partner and spurred you to greatness?” or “Has a special dog left a legacy for you and others to remember?”
Overall, this book is a wonderful reminder that the bond your forge with your dog is often the catalyst for positive change.