What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch by Dana Jennings

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I received a galley from a publisher that is not a reading group choice. But a great little book! I have to tell you about it. What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch, is a charming and bitter sweet memoir by Dana Jennings. This is small book is an uplifting tale perfect for gift-giving -- dogs-lovers, everyone dealing with illness, care-givers, feel-good people.

Publisher summary. A must-read for every dog lover—a short, tender, and uplifting tale of a cancer survivor and the life lessons shared with him by his beloved family dog.

Our dogs come into our lives as “just the family pet,” but before we know it they become drinking buddies and fuzzy shrinks, playmates and Cheerios-munching vacuum cleaners, alarm clocks and sleeping partners. And, in their mys­terious and muttish ways, our dogs become our teachers.

When Dana Jennings and his son were both seriously ill—Dana with prostate cancer and his son with liver failure—their twelve-year-old miniature poodle Bijou became even more than a pet and teacher. She became a healing presence in their lives. After all, when you’re recovering from radical surgery and your life is uncertain, there’s no better medicine than a  twenty-three-pound pooch who lives by the motto that it’s always best to play, even when you’re old and creaky, even when you’re sick and frightened.

In telling Bijou’s tale in all of its funny, touching, and neurotic glory, Jennings is telling the story of every dog that has ever blessed our lives. The perfect gift for animal lovers, What a Difference a Dog Makes is a narrative ode to our canine guardian angels.

First paragraph: "Our dogs constantly surprise us. They are our four-legged verbs: They dance when we come home from work, they fetch when we fling the ball, and they come running and panting when we call their names. Dogs are miracles in the moment -- they teach us, in fact, that each moment is an absolute miracle -- and they live in the eternal present. They don't fret over past mistakes, or dwell on past glories. either. The future is always now."

Here is the trailer for the book.


An aside of my own: my feline guardian angel, Aspen

Aspen was and still is a god-sent to me. Aspen was always there to make me smile during my recovery after my two surgeries and two rounds of chemo. Cats are just like dogs, in the way, they know and feel when their owner is sick and needs their soft touch. (Aspen is the cat on the bookcase in the masthead!)

Look for What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch in stores November 2.

Do you have a pet who comforted you during a stressful time?

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