Monday, November 8, 2010

Hey Pet Lovers, Check This Out! Book Review and Giveaway: What a Difference a Dog Makes--Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch by Dana Jennings. Two Winners for this one.

When I first received this book from the publisher, Doubleday, I admit, I had my doubts about how substantial it was. It's a tiny book, only 154 pages and I wondered how much could there be to say about a dog anyway? Was I ever wrong! If you've ever had a dog or a cat (there's a chapter on cats too!), you'll identify with the author and what his message is in a big way.

The author, Dana Jennings is the assistant editor of the New York Times Arts and Leisure section. He writes a popular column about coping with prostate cancer and its aftermath for the Times Well blog. This book is a laugh-out-loud, poignant account of how Jenning's 12-year-old miniature poodle named Bijou de Minuit--Bijou for short--helped him through some of the most arduous times of his life: an aggressive form of prostate cancer and his son, a high school senior suddenly and unexpectedly, contracting auto-immune liver disease--total liver failure. It was a scary time. A comfort then and now is Bijou.

Jennings packs so many life lessons he learned from his little bundle of fur in this book. He explores and details so much of what a pet owner knows instinctively, but may not think about until something happens that forces one to take stock of life and what it really means. Having faced a life threatening illness and watching Bijou age and decline as well, there's a deep and awesome bond between a man and his dog that the little things bring to life: lying in the sun together, taking that walk, a loving head upon your knee, waiting for that loving scratch.

This book made me laugh and it made me cry. I know so deeply of what the author speaks, having had a long and loving relationship with my own cat Boozie, before her unexpected death in the spring (4/25/10 post). I leave you with some words from the author that I have said so many times myself and it was awesome to see someone else express my feelings so perfectly and even use some of the same words...

So often, we--dogs and humans (and cats!)--just need to be near each other. We need the presence of another heartbeat, the inhale and exhale of another soul....her presence, her being there, was a better tonic for me than any get-well card.

This book is awesome in it's message, loving in it's sentiment. If you'd like the opportunity to receive a copy, leave a comment about a dog or cat that was important in your life if you've had one. Don't forget to leave your email so you can be contacted if you're one of the winners.

At publisher's request, giveaway is limited to residents of the US only. Giveaway ends Friday, November 12.



  1. I had a special dog when I was growing up. He was a terrior named Tippy. I lived on a farm and Tippy was an outside dog but he was always there for me. Since I was an only child he was my playmate!

  2. I love that quote. Ever since I was a child, the presence of a pet has been comforting to me. My current cat Darwin is very special to me since he was the first kitten I raised and we're so attached to each other, more so than I've felt with my previous pets.

  3. This book sounds lovely. I'm still missing my Maggie; she used to take me for walks and fill my days with inspiration.

  4. The current dog making a difference in my life is my dog, Rusty. He is a mix of a lot of different breeds (not sure which ones exactly), but we know one of them is dachshund. He is one of the craziest yet most loveable dogs I know!

    jlelliott08 AT gmail DOT com

  5. Tank is a 130lb rottweiler my husband insisted on rescuing. He was a good boy, but Chelly was my dog, and I lavished the lion's share of attention on her.

    One night, Chelly came in from outside disoriented and frightened. I made her lay down on her bed, but I realized almost immediately my poor old girl was dying. Her body had finally given out.

    I was alone that night and kept vigil with her until she breathed her last. Tank sat and waited at the opposite end of the bedroom. For four hours he sat motionless and watched in silence as I waited for Chelly to pass.

    When it was over, I broke down and started crying. Only then did Tank come over to me. He lay his giant head on my shoulder and pressed up against me.

    It was as if he understood what had happened and that I needed him now.

    Since then Tank has been my constant shadow. There is nothing I wouldn't do for him. He was my angel when I needed one most.

    mariazannini at gmail dot com

  6. I've always had dogs and each one was important and special to me. We have two small dogs now that we love and cherish equally :) Pepper is a salt and pepper, 15 pounds, three-year-old female miniature schnauzer. Mitzi is a black and tan, 7 pounds, two-and-a-half-year-old female dorkie (dachshund/yorkie designer hybrid) :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

  7. I had a cat that helped my son learn to speak. My son was severely speech and language impaired, and she would jump up on him, to help him calm down when he got frustrated. Angelica, was a amazing cat.

  8. I don't think this book is for me. NO I don't think, i actually know. Why? Well, I don't have any pets and I don't like dogs. OR cats for that matter. lol. But it does sounds like a very good book to give to one of my friends who adores dogs. :) And I do like the cover.

  9. Don't count me in, not US resident. :)

  10. I've had many pets, but my most special pet was a mix we adopted from the Humane society when I was in High School. She lived 16 years until after the birth of my first child. She was such a part of my life and went everywhere with me. When I met my husband, he had to go through her first to get to me.

    winit6 at hotmail dot com

  11. I haven't had a dog or cat of my own so I have to pick my best friend's dog when were in hs. He ignored everyone in their family and people who came over but for some reason he always got excited when I came over and followed me around! He was a lot of fun! Thank you for the contest!

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

  12. Break out the apples and schoolbooks and take or make a school-themed picture with your bird.


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