Friday, February 25, 2011

Assistance Dog Stories
to Tug Your Heart Strings

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
 A couple of months ago, out of the blue, I received an email from a writer/editor of a new collection of stories about assistance dogs. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when my free copy arrived, but I already had two reasons that I knew would weigh in on my decision to review the book. I had not shared these with Kathy Nimmer, the writer/editor, for fear she would know what a shoe-in her book was, in a pitch to me.


As a freelance writer, I once collected, edited and published the written works of others. My book was not one of dog stories, but I clearly had a soft place in my gut for this lady's task. I knew how difficult her job had been in preparing her book--the locating of writers, selection of the best stories, collecting of photos, obtaining permissions, and such. There's another piece of irony to toss into this surprising turn of events. I am not unlike the people in this book; I live with Multiple Sclerosis. Knowing that I might encounter stories of my own future, I opened the cover and began reading.


Two Plus Four Equals One is a celebration of the partnership of people with disabilities and their assistance dogs. For me that celebration began with the connection I experienced with Shannan Dumke in her story, The Gift of Zen. The ending caught me so off guard I found tears running down my cheeks as I absorbed the exciting climax. 


A shiver ran down my spine when I read Canine Relief, a story that describes the experience of a paranoid schizophrenic who chose to train her own dog to help her gain confidence and independence. And another when I realized that the service dog for a seizure patient was none other than a Bichon Frise that has saved her owner's life.


© R. Smith
Chauncey
By this point, I needed a good laugh. I got it with How Does a Service Dog Spell Relief?  I could truly relate to Chauncey's predicament; so will most of you!


Now I found myself in Chapter 7, The Agony of Retirement and Loss. Having only recently lost my Retriever mix, Xena, who spent two years of her life nurturing me through frequent migraine headaches, I put the brakes on and lay the book down. I wasn't sure I was ready to read this chapter.


A few days later, while straightening up, I noticed a photo on the back of the book, which was lying upside down on the desk. I immediately realized this must be the author--my contact person. Her dog drew me in and I read the bio. Kathy Nimmer, the book's writer/editor is blind, and yet lives a full life with her third guide dog, Elias. What's more, she's a speaker, author and award-winning teacher.  Suddenly I had the strength to pick up the book and continue.


When reading about another seizure patient with a dog that had an innate ability to signal its owner of impending trouble, I remembered the Bichon and grinned. This story featured a Pekingese/Pomeranian mix. Who knew toy-sized dogs could be service dogs?, I asked myself outloud. Oliver's ear twitched as if to signal his understanding.


Going Home, Mom is one of many poems in the book written by Kathy Nimmer. Each offers another peek into her unique experiences, and this one hit home with me--a gentle goodbye from a dog that has accepted her fate naturally, as dogs generally do.


© M. Massie
Cole and Ilia
Rounding the last bend I found pay dirt in The Best is Yet to Come. This story of a young boy with cerebral palsy took my breath away, both with its writer's skill and the amazing bond between Cole and his dog, Ilia. You'll never be the same after you read this story. I've added a sticky note to that page....and a mental note to re-read it every month or so. It's nourishment for the spirit.


Want to read this book? I'll be giving away 3 copies in a drawing. Enter by leaving a comment here or on my Facebook page by 4:00 PM, Friday March 4. The drawing winners will be announced on Saturday, March 5. If you simply don't want to wait on the contest, you can order from this link, or from Amazon, right here: Just click the ad and you'll be on your way.

Other great book reviews on All Things Dog Blog:
The Darkest Evening of the Year, by Dean Koontz
Oogy--A Dog Only a Family Could Love, by  Larry Levin
Barkonomics, by Paris Permenter and John Bigley
A Small Furry Prayer, by Steven Kotler (reviewed by Kristine Tonks)






Thanks to the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop hosts, Two Little Cavaliers, Life with Dogs, and Confessions of the Plume, for handling the plumbing to collect us all into every participating blog. Feel free to hop from blog to blog, give thanks and leave a few comments. It's a great way to spend a lazy Saturday. Happy tails!

25 comments:



AJ said...

I love a good book - consider me entered! Although, I'll be honest, I'm sort of a sensitive person so if I win and I end up in tears, I WILL email you with all kinds of WHY DIDN'T YOU WARN ME ABOUT THIS PART messages. ;)



Nancy said...

Kathy Nimmer is a true inspiration to all of us! As a volunteer for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, I know how important it is to let the sighted world know how fantastic assistance dogs are.



itsmebuddy said...

So glad I came by your site. It's so full of interesting and helpful information. Happy blog hopping.



Nikkii said...

Two Plus Four Equals One sounds like a read for everyone. What a standout it is on the bookshelves, when so many other books are depressing, dire predictions of more gloom and doom. Praise God for His gift of canines to the human race!



Maria Coble said...

I'd love to win the book. One of my friends "is in it" and I have been wanting to buy it. 3 kids...I haven't found the money yet.



Clara B. said...

Kathy Nimmer is an inspiration to us all. The stories you speak of in your blog sound so inspiring, I can't wait to read more myself!



Kay and Rufus said...

RUFUS AND I ARE IN THIS AMAZING BOOKS. I HAVE MS AND I DONT KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO WITHOUT RUFUS. I WENT FROM HAVING A CAREER OF 20 YEARS TO NOT BEING ABLE TO GO TO THE STORE. WITH RUFUS I AM WHOLE AGAIN. KATHY NIMMER IS BEYOND AMAZING. THIS BOOK WAS A TRUE LABOR OF LOVE FOR HER AND ALL OF US INVOLVED. IT BRINGS TO LIGHT SO MANY THINGS THAT PEOPLE JUST DONT KNOW ABOUT SERVICE DOGS. THERE ARE DOGS OF ALL SIZES THAT DO THIS LIFESAVING WORK. SMALL AND LARGE, AND YES RUFUS IS ONE OF THE SMALL ONES.HE IS A YORKIE AND SO PROUD OF HIS WORK HE WILL GRAB HIS VEST TO PUT IT ON. HE LOVES BEING ON DUTY. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH, MAKE YOU CRY, MAY YOUR HEART WARM, AND IN THE PROCESS EDUCATE YOU ON ALL THE ASPECTS OF LIFE WITH A PARTNER OTHERS CALL A SERVICE DOG. I CALL RUFUS MY OTHER HALF. THANKS FOR REVIEWING THIS TRULY SPECTACULAR BOOK.



lillij said...

What a great review! Are these books available on ereaders. Don't have a kindle, but have a ereader and would love to add to my collection of dog books? Still read regular books too. Would love to be entered into the drawing please.



Juliana said...

Kathy is an amazing individual with a joyful character. I am one of her former students and her writing is absolutely stunning! I'm planning to read this book during the summer so if I win a copy it would just be PERFECT!



Rubiegem said...

I have heard numerous reasons I need to read this book and would be honored to have my own copy. (I have a friend included in the stories)I am embarking on my brand new adventure with my first service dog, Savanah, and would love to share this book with family and friends.



Cilla said...

A good friend of mine has a story in the book so I would definately say it's worth getting. And, the rest of the stories are just as good, I'm sure. Thanks for having the drawing. I don't have a copy of it, yet.



Cilla said...

Well, I tried to leave a comment and my computer crashed. Here's another try. I definately think this book is worth getting. A friend of mine is in it and I am proud of her and amazed at her writing ability. I don't have a copy yet so I'd love to win a free one!



Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your kind words and showcasing this book. It was my hope in writing for it, was to encourage other disabled people to seek out a service dog program in their area and take back the freedom they have lost that their disabilities brought into their world. That was the gift my Service Dog Lizard gave me. I lost her this last September.



Kim Z said...

Your review is perfectly enticing! I can't wait to read this book. Thank you for enticing many others to also share in understanding the amazing role service dogs play in our lives.



Peggy Frezon said...

What a great and thorough review. Sometimes it is difficult to read those tearjerkers but it is so worthwhile to experience the strong emotions that dogs can give us. I love the title. I'm a freelance writer too, I write about dogs, so I'd love to read this book.



Catherine said...

This book goes far beyond the connection of people experiencing challenges and their assistance dogs. It reminds us that we (including animals) are all connected in this great circle of life.



pmurphymedlin said...

I can't wait to read this book. As a life long animal lover, I am still amazed at the things these intelligent dogs are capable of.



Katie Flynn said...

What a wonderful review. It shows potential readers just what to expect when they read this book and readers will not be disappointed. Well done Kathy - long may you and Elias thrive together and perhaps bring us another collection sometime in the future.

Katie Flynn



Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks! You brought tears to MY eyes appreciating my story about Zen, the first assistance dog we trained. Kathy is very inspirational and you have re-ignited a fire in me to get her book into my local bookstores! Thanks! Shannan Dumke



Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

I LOVED LOVED LOVED your story about Zen. What a great name for a dog, and especially the way the story ended. You hooked me on the book. Thanks so much for commenting. It means the world to me when I get great feedback. It has been a wonderful onslaught of that today and yesterday. I hope to see you here often.



Richa said...

Wow.. I am so glad I happened upon your site.. The review is amazing and I definitely want the book! Everyone's soul needs nourishment and inspiring stories like these.
My fluffball pom's purpose is just to look cute and cuddly. I dont think he will learn to do anything else:)



ASH said...

Oh, boy. Where do I begin? Kathy's book is almost as inspirational as her life. I have loved reading the stories in snippets, enjoying encouragement, guidance, a good laugh, even a tear or two. I would highly recommend it to anyone...seriously, it is a great read no matter what walk of life you are coming from. And if you have a chance to meet Kathy, take up the opportunity! She is an incredible woman full of grace and wisdom, and I daresay she may have even more stories--be they funny, inspirational, or otherwise--to tell from her own life than the book could even hint at.



Anonymous said...

I am blessed to have been one of the proofreaders for this awesome book! Kathy is an amazing woman and an inspiration to us all. This is her second book, the first being a book of poetry by the title of "Minutes in the Dark, Eternity in the Light." If you would like to read more of her work, I highly recommend it, too!



Anonymous said...

Please consider me entered also!!! the stories sound amazing, and as a person with seizures and aspergers I'm very excited to read it!!!
Carrie Farris (humphreyscarrie@aol.com)



Catherine Valle (poohbear.1969@verizon.net) said...

We are friends of Kay and Rufus and are so proud of his work and that we are blessed to call them our friends. Can't wait to read the book!!!

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