I did not intend to have a dog in my home who is so tall that he can rest his chin on the dining room table. It was never my intention to take walks with one hundred and fifty pounds of dog on the other end of a leash, and I certainly did not plan to love that long-haired slobber factory named Tucker. My heart has been hi-jacked by a dog.
Dave Burchett, author of Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me About Life, Loss, and Grace, is the victim of a similar hi-jacking, and he did not intend to write a book about the dogs in his life until his four-year-old yellow Lab, Hannah, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. With a survival prediction of three months or less, Hannah’s time with the Burchett family was suddenly at a premium, and Dave began to realize that Hannah’s tail-wagging, ball-chasing enthusiasm for life was a source of daily inspiration. So, with Hannah as mentor, Dave opens his journal and his photo album and shares his heart-warming memoir of Hannah’s last days. With humor, candor, and a conversational style, each chapter unpacks an “ah-ha” moment that Dave experienced with Hannah and the other furry teachers who have blessed his life.
The lesson which most impressed me was this: dogs live in the moment. They don’t waste their energy worrying about the future or regretting the past. They are relational experts, dispensing unconditional acceptance, forgiveness, and trust (whether their owners deserve it or not). Hannah’s big brown eyes were a constant source of comfort to Dave during his wife’s battle with breast cancer — not because she was a fountain of wisdom or theological insight, but because she continually offered the gift of presence.
A memoir of living through loss and reaching toward joy, Stay could just as well have been titled All I Need to Know about Relationships, I Learned from Watching My Dog.
This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for my unbiased review.