Saved by Gracie
How a Rough-and-Tumble Rescue Dog Dragged me Back to Health, Happiness and God
by Jan Dunlap
(c) 2014 Authentic Publishers
I really wanted to review this book because it covers all of my favorite topics- dogs, rescue dogs, living with dogs, learning from dogs, dogs making us healthy, dogs making us happy, dogs helping us see God's goodness.
But a part of me worried--there are a lot of books out there about how someone discovers, "Not only did I rescue the dog...the dog rescued me." I've read them. Lots of them. And I suppose I'd be remiss if I didn't include my own book about how my rescue dog inspired me to lose weight and get healthy, in that category too. So I worried, would I find anything new in this book?
Happily, yes! The good news--this is a subject that can't really be overdone. Because everyone, and every rescue dog, has a story.
Saved by Gracie is an light and breezy romp with a black lab who loves nothing more than a light and breezy romp. Or a wild and crazy drag through the ravine. Whichever.
Jan doesn't really want a dog. She's afraid of dogs. In addition, she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. That's when Gracie comes into her life. When her teenage daughter (who promised she'd take care of the dog) becomes too busy, it is up to Jan to take care of Gracie. Due to her anxieties, even taking a Gracie out on a walk is a frightening adventure...and an opportunity to learn that she could do something difficult and come through it stronger.
A big step forward is made when the owner takes Gracie to the dog park, and discovers that Gracie has jumped over the five-foot fence and run off. Still unsure that she's all that keen about having a dog in the house, the author momentrily considers that maybe NOT finding Gracie would be a fortuitous outcome. However, she searches for Gracie along the park's 27 acres, only to discover that at some point Gracie has jumped back over the fence in order to find her! "She must really love you to jump back into the park," someone comments. And Jan is amazed it's true.
|Kelly and Ike say "Hello Gracie!"|
I might add that not all readers will agree with all her pet-parenting methods--reading advice from Cesar Millan, sending her dog to boot camp, or using a shock collar for training--and I think the author understands that we might feel this way. She writes, "Go ahead and accuse me of turning a blind eye to a barbaric method of imposing human will on a helpless animal, but in this situation the end totally justified the means. The end being that Gracie will never have to see the inside of another shelter for as long as she lives, because I can now--thanks to her training--manage her behavior on a daily basis and guarantee her physical safety." In the end, this is not a dog training manual, but one woman's story. I don't use shock collars, but I have no problem reading a book about a woman who does and listen to her reasons for doing so.
Jan reads everything she can to learn how to take care of her new companion. As Jan navigates pet parenthood, she grapples with her own issues of trust, faith and fear, and slowly comes to realize that Gracie is a gift from God, sent to teach her, by example, that life is for living, and not for dreading.
And Jan realizes that not only could a dog love her, but she could come to love a dog. Even a big, messy, naughty, food-scavenging dog named Gracie. Especially a dog named Gracie.
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*Full Disclosure: I was provided with one copy of the book and 5 copies to give away in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own.