Jennifer Skiff's bestselling tribute to the noble canine, "The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man's Best Friend" (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 327 pages) is one of the most inspiring collection of dog stories assembled.
This amazing animal, who can serve as eyes and ears to the disabled, comforts the lonely and distressed, breaks through the isolation of Alzheimer's and autism, eagerly serves as an adopted child to the childless, and simply enriches the life its human companion, is, as Ms. Skiff puts it, "a gift from the Divine sent here to help us on our way."
Ms. Skiff explains that in most homes, the being who most embodies the Christian ideal is the lowly dog.
Yes, the dog has long been a symbol of fidelity and loyalty, but he is even more richly blessed in virtues. His simple act of smothering his human companion in kisses reveals his profound sense of gratitude.
This magnanimous soul can be a true guardian angel, as in the author's beloved Golden Retriever who was her source of solace and safety from an abusive stepfather. His keen sense of intuition has safeguarded many owners; as Gloria Wardrum relates in her story of how her Airedale terrier protected her from a serial killer.
All too often, this gentle being has had to learn to forgive humans as is revealed in the heart wrenching story of the horribly abused Pit Bull, Phoenix, who was doused with gasoline by her owner and set on fire.
After a long and painful healing process, Phoenix was given the life she deserved- a chance to live with a loving family, play in a backyard and sleep peacefully at the foot of the bed.
Many of the contributors mention a particular animal charity at the end of their story and this reviewer would like to put in an appeal for our local animal shelter, Almost Home Animal Shelter (5060 Lincoln Ave., Quinnesec, MI 49876) and the many animals who would love to rescue some lucky person from a life of boredom and loneliness.