If you love dogs, or even if you don’t, you should read “The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man’s Best Friend,” by Jennifer Skiff.
Whenever I need to reminded about the joy that dogs can add to our lives, I read a few of the short stories in this book that was published in 2012 and was a gift.
Since I have a difficult time plowing through long books with intricate plots and characters, “The Divinity of Dogs” is perfect when I have a few minutes and could use some inspiration. Stories are short, compelling and emotional.
Skiff has compiled amazing tales that reflect what dogs do best: Give us unconditional love. There are stories about love, about healing, about loyalty, about compassion and about dying. Admittedly, some of the stories that end with a dog’s death, or tell of the abuse of a dog, are not exactly uplifting — until you realize you need to focus on the delight that dog brought to the lives of the people it met. Some of these stories will bring tears to your eyes.
Skiff puts it well in her introduction:
“My dogs have been the reason I have woken up every single day of my life with a smile on my face. They have protected me from mean people and have given me insight into potential partners. They have been my children and my parents. They have loved me the most. I rank among the millions of people who appreciate the souls of dogs and know they are a gift of pure love and an example of all that is good. More than anything, they have taught me how to be a better person.”
Here are just a few passages by some of the authors of the short stories in “The Divinity of Dogs.”
w “There is an old quote that says, ‘I have always wanted to be the man my dog thinks I am.’ That’s my goal. Gunny is helping me achieve it. He’s a true friend and teacher to everyone. I’m just the lucky one who gets to take him home each night.” — Gary Corneer
w “Hemingway started out as an unwanted stray, homeless and abandoned. Someone overlooked his many gifts. In this case, one man’s loss was another man’s and many dogs’ gain. Hemingway was one of the kindest, gentlest, most giving souls I have ever met. He was a celestial being, in tune to every person and animal he came in contact with. He truly seemed to be from another world in his ability to provide comfort just with his presence.” — Dion Genovese
w “I went to Hughes and grabbed him, kissed him, hugged him, and gave him loads of loving. ‘What a good boy,’ I repeated over and over. I gave him some treats, and he went wild playing with them. At that moment, I realized that this dog knew much more than I was willing to give him credit for. The door to my mind and heart had been thrown open.” — Amanda Fadden
w “I had eleven wonderful years with my soul mate. Sheba taught me that every morning is like Christmas morning, something to get excited about. And every car trip is an adventure, where the driver must be licked on the ear from the back seat. She showed me how to enjoy the simple things in life: lazing in the sun, sniffing the air, rolling in the grass, going for a long walk, or just hanging out with your best friend.” — Linda Pugh
w “Since that fateful day when I stared into the eyes of a severely burned puppy and saw love where there should have been loathing, or at the very least fear, I have not been the same. When my mind clouds with petty grudges or minor grievances or when I am pulled down by life’s struggles, I have only to think of Phoenix and her forgiving ways to redirect my steps back to the high road. This one special dog taught me that with so much joy in the world, it’s a shame to waste time on anything else.” — Vivian Jamieson
If anyone wants to borrow this book, I’ll be glad to lend it to you. But be prepared a roller-coaster ride of emotions as you hear about the lives of these dogs that gave so much for people.
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.