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Puppy special are our canine companions?

I've been reading the latest edition of Insights, the Uniting Church of Australia's journal in NSW & ACT and among the many inspirational articles was a delightful interview by Reverend Barbara Allen with with Jennifer Skiff, author of a new book titled "The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man's Best Friend" (published by Allen & Unwin). I had not heard of Jennifer before this - Rev Allen's article tells me Jennifer is a Trustee of the Dog's Refuge Home in Perth, Western Australia and also a magazine columnist for Canadian Pets Magazine - but she is, I've learned, an award-winning television producer, journalist and writer. Her latest work, published late 2012 is, I understand, a MUST READ for everyone, whether an animal lover or not!

Now I have to confess, I have not yet read the book but after reading the above-mentioned interview in Insights and also after reading a number of very positive reviews, it is certainly on my reading list and in fact we've ordered a copy today through our local bookstore in Bowral. My additional research has lead me to Jennifer's website and it includes a video interview giving further insight and motivation for her work. I invite you to take a look and learn more about this wonderful memoir and I hope that you'll be sufficiently inspired to buy a copy.

I am so looking forward to getting our copy next week and becoming immersed - we'll probably need two copies as She is very keen to read it too!!

So much of what I've gleaned so far, both She and I can attest to from our own experiences with a menagerie of animals (including dogs, cats, horses, cockatiels, guinea pigs) over the years. - during our 30-something years together we've had six dogs - four of them Labradors, with our present one, our beloved and inseparable "H", the last in the long line to date - and we cannot ever imagine life without a dog.

Jennifer says a couple of things about dogs which really resonate strongly with us:

  • dogs provide the purest form of unconditional love here on earth

  • dogs help us to realise we are only human

  • dogs teach us to be better people

In our case, living on a rural property we have usually had two dogs at a time and usually some years apart in age - this provides a continuity for when one passes on and the purchase of another really helps us to cope with the loss of the one just gone. Don't get me wrong, we grieve terribly when one of our animal family passes on and indeed our mantel is lined with not only photos of them, but small urns containing their ashes - dogs and cats alike - lasting testament of their huge significance in our lives and remaining tangible legacy of their unconditional love and companionship (and our constant reminder they are at peace in (dog) heaven). But now we are getting older and having recently downsized, our menagerie has sadly 'downsized' too. Gone are the pony club horses, the birds and guinea pigs and we are reduced to just Harry ("H") and Millie ("M") (our house cat).

And Harry got his name because, 7 years ago when Ben, the big black Lab, died, our surviving Lab was Sally, so we introduced baby "H".. ......and it was when Harry met Sally!!! Speaking of movies, we adore the popular 2008 movie "Marley & Me" based on the memoir of the same name by John Grogan (first published in 2005 by Harper Collins) - a book She had given me as a Christmas gift, one which I've read several times - but never without shedding a tear or three!! For me, having read the book first and loved it, made the movie so very special!

This title (both movie and book) encapsulated many of the things Jennifer describes in her book - the joy of a puppy, their ability to become an integral part of your life ("H") is dictating this part to me so I'm typing slowly!!), the companionship and faithfulness in difficult times, the sheer love and affection they consistently provide each and everyday. I can personally recommend John Grogan's wonderful book - such a fabulous, humorous infectious and true-life account of life with a dog. And if you have not yet seen the movie, I would encourage you to get hold of it on DVD or Blu-ray - you'll definitely need a box of tissues handy, but you will not regret the experience! As Jennifer tells us in the Divinity of Dogs and as Marley & Me ultimately demonstrates, when they go, the raw emotion it brings out in us shows just how much a part of us they've become - losing them is all but unbearable!!

You can view the movie trailer here Marley & Me

Anecdotally, when we joined our new church recently, we were both surprised and delighted to find that towards the rear of the church there is a special dog creche for those of the congregation who wish to bring their canine companions to the Sunday service with them - a regular visitor is "Sam", a spritely 13 year old golden retriever who is also a regular visitor to the local hospitals and aged-care centres to brighten the days of the patients. He is a real identity in our new community and we are hoping he will be inspiration to our "H"!!!

To recap, here are some things I would encourage you to do:

  • Read Jennifer Skiff's "The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man's Best Friend" (published by Allen & Unwin)

  • visit Jennifer's website and watch her interview at Jennifer Skiff

  • Read John Grogan's Marley & Me (published by HarperCollins)

  • Make sure you watch the movie "Marley & Me"

All of these things will surely convince you just how special our canine friends are in our lives!


...and remember...have a fabulous retirementLIFE....

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