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Lost and Found
Dogs always find us when we’re feeling lost.
I’m not talking about search and rescue dogs, the acknowledged heroes of the canine world. I’m talking about the closer-to-home, garden variety rescue dog that is probably sitting at your feet right now.
These unheralded, sensitive and life-saving dogs probably do more to keep us humans on course and an even keel than we recognize.
My first golden retriever, Nikki, helped me to answer one of those Big Questions: What shall I do with my life to really make a difference? While I gnashed my teeth over this one, and fumbled with professional guidance, and chased my own tail in the process, little Nik, still a youngster at the time, patiently followed me around, gazed wisely into my eyes, and waited for me to see what she already knew. A whole new career in animal-assisted therapy would let us work side by side in hospital rooms to offer her kindness, love and inspiration to patients in need.
It was as simple as that. One day, when I wondered why God hadn’t sent me a sign to guide my path, I look down at Nik and the epiphany literally took my breath away. As did Nikki’s unerring intuition and skill in her work.
Bodie came along with another mission in mind for me: Expand my comfort zone in the wilderness. While I felt the need to embark on even a short day hike with supplies to survive for days, Bodie launched into every exploration with boundless energy and true faith – we would all be just fine, and even better if we went farther faster. His ebullient joy and confidence gradually seeped into my bones, too.
Sweet Sophie and gentle giant Tucker moved through life side by side, the epitome of true friendship. When I needed to settle my soul and practice just being, instead of frenetically doing, they were there to model that for me. Tuck showed me how, lying on the back deck, gazing up the hillside behind the house, nose twitching with delicious scents and eyes half closed in exquisite pleasure.
After that harmonious canine interlude, Daisy said “Enough porch sitting. Let’s get up and RUN!” Lest I be lulled into complacent pleasures, she had other things in mind. Like activities that use your mind and your body, and take lots of training. An awful lot. And also the chance to practice patience and understanding and partnership and – well, the list goes on and on. Daisy launched me into the world of dog agility, just when I needed something new to keep my focus, as well as hers.
We never feel so lost as we do after a loss, when we’re bumping into walls and sleepwalking through our days. When we feel so adrift that it seems nothing will be able to tether us to shore again. That’s when little Chatter arrived on my doorstep with her baggage. Her issues weren’t apparent, as we unpacked her obvious assets: beautiful breeding, handsome conformation, luxurious coat, deep brown eyes. But digging deeper into her bag, we found insecurity and wounds from benign neglect, and the likelihood of physical abuse. Now she needed someone to help fill her empty spaces and tuck confidence and safety and love into every corner of her being.
Golden retrievers all. And all adopted as rescued or second-hand dogs. Yes, I gave them each a home when they needed it most. But they gave me more, every single day of their lives. They taught me lessons I might not have otherwise learned. And they found me when I was lost.
This is one of the most heartwarming books I read this year. I admit I love dogs and am a true sucker for dog stories. I have a black lab, she is my most loyal and best friend. So you may be thinking I just liked the book because of being a dog lover. Yes and no. I admit I accepted the book because I am a dog lover and who could resist the cover dog? I most likely enjoyed the book more because I am a dog lover. However this book has a very good message. Holli rescued dogs who in turn rescue people. No they do not go looking for lost people. The stories are not of that sort. They rescue them by loving them and helping them. I have always believed animals have an extra sense - one that allows them to read our inner most feelings and respond to them. The stories in Holli's book are about her dogs doing that kind of rescuing. She uses them in a hospital program. Some parts of the book are heartrendingly sad. The dogs she rescues have some very sad things happen to them. I cried more than once. Holli also takes the time to let you know that bringing the rescued dogs home does not mean an easy, good time. I really appreciated that she included the challenges. I think it is very important to know what the reality is. I believe it is worth the challenges as the dogs give so much more back. I am very pleased to be able to say that Holli makes that part clear in her book. She tells wonderful stories of the animals not only doing their volunteer work but of life with her rescued retrievers.
This is a very easy reading book. Holli writes in a very friendly way. Reading her stories is almost like hearing her tell them to you. I think it will make a perfect Christmas gift. I am actually purchasing copies to give to the elderly home here in my town as well as the shelter for their library. It is the kind of book that fills your heart.
For more on Holli and these wonderful Retrievers please go to
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