June 24, 2015

A Book To Help You Survive Losing a Heart Dog

My blogger friend Roxanne Hawn of the award-winning Champion of My Heart blog recently published a non-fiction book called Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate. It is based on her own experience losing her beautiful heart dog, Lilly.
Isn't that a beautiful cover?
Book Description
"The death of any dog is hard. The death of a Heart Dog – a canine soul mate – is much, much worse … Even if you’ve experienced pet loss before, losing your canine soul mate is different. Typical grief advice isn’t nearly enough. Heart Dog answers all the big questions about canine soul mates, offers practical ideas for coping with each day’s dose of grief, and provides inspiration for finding your place in the world after such a profound loss. Others have survived the grief. You can too. Let Heart Dog be your guide."
Roxanne & heart dog Lilly (photos courtesy of R. Hawn)
You can buy Heart Dog on Amazon as an ebook ($3.99) or paperback ($8.99). The paperback makes a thoughtful gift if you have a friend who is grieving the loss of their heart dog. It is also available for NOOK via Barnes & Nobel and in other e-book formats via Smashwords.

I was honored to have Roxanne send me an advance copy of the book to review.

Here's my review
When I lost my Heart Dog, luckily I had a few long-distance friends who knew what I was going through, and they were an immense help. If you’re experiencing the shock and devastation of losing your canine soul mate, and none of your friends and family seem to understand, Roxanne Hawn’s words in Heart Dog can be that long-distance friend that you need. Told from the vantage point of her own devastating grief, along with input from a survey of 500 others who’ve lost their heart dogs, the book helps you understand what to expect in the coming days, weeks, months and more as you slog through your grief and find your new normal. Heart Dog would make a great gift, for yourself or a loved one suffering the profound loss of a heart dog.

A Sad Topic, But Ending on a Happier Note...
We try to be all about the laughs and smiles here at Pooch Smooches. Heck, even when we started the blog and it was mostly about Abby's cancer journey, we still tried to always find the humor. (I mean, come on. Where else are you going to find a blog that names the dog's lung mets after Boris and Natasha?)

I wanted to share Roxanne's book with you, but I also wanted to end on a happier note, so I asked Roxanne if she could share the story of how their adorable puppy Clover came to live with them after the loss of Lilly.

Here's the story:
After Lilly died in December 2013, especially after such a long and troubling illness, the truth is that we were not planning on even thinking about adopting a new dog or puppy until spring 2015. Maybe even beyond that. Since we weren't sure how things might go with our elderly dog, Ginko, we even toyed with the idea of being completely without any dogs for a while so that we could travel without any worries. To be honest, that concept freaked me out. Other than a few years in college, I've always lived with at least one dog since I was born. 

Roxanne & Clover (photos courtesy of R. Hawn)
So when I happened to see the adoption profile and photos of Clover online in early September 2014, and I asked my husband if I could see about doing a long-distance adoption, you should have seen the look on his face. Priceless. 

It wasn't easy to pull off a cross-country adoption (some 1600 miles between the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado), but fate and luck were on our side.

It took countless phone calls and emails to adopt Clover and bring her home to help soothe our grieving hearts. My husband said it sounded like I was planning a military-style "black" op.
I learned a lot from that experience. At the top of the list? The women of dog rescues will pull off miracles to get the right puppy to a broken-hearted girl. 
A Happy Trio (photos courtesy of R. Hawn)

Thanks, Roxanne, for sharing your story of Lilly's loss with everyone via this book. I know it had to be so hard to write, but I know it will help so many folks. And thank you for sharing the story of how Clover came to be part of your family. A new pup gives us something to smile about again, even while we still grieve for our lost furry family member.

What about you? Do you have (or have you had) a heart dog?

30 comments:

  1. Lovely review and your suggestion of gifting the book to folks who've suffered a recent loss is terrific. I followed Lilly and Roxanne's journey via her blog and my heart went out to her. I still miss my heart dog, Lucy, every single day.

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    1. Yeah, I miss my Abby. And the hubs misses Bailey. (Not that I don't miss Bailey and he doesn't miss Abby, but Abby was my very special girl, just like Bailey was his.)

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  2. Thanks for the review. I can never relate to the "heart dog" concept. To me all the dogs and cats that I have owned have been so special in their own way that it breaks my heart to loose any of them. I can't imagine one being more or less difficult than another.

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    1. I found this book so practical and useful that I think it would benefit anyone grieving the loss of a pet whether they believe in Heart Dogs or not.

      If you know someone who needs some practical ideas for getting through grief, I'd highly recommend it.

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    2. They definitely are all special in their own way and loved beyond words. I didn't really relate to the idea either until we had Abby. I guess because she was sick and I spent so much time taking care of her, we had an XXL-sized bond. I was devastated when our beagle died, but it was even worse when Abby died. I'd spent so much time taking care of her and making sure that her short life would be amazing that it was much harder to get through her loss for me.

      But, like Pamela says, there are helpful tips for getting through the grief over the loss of any beloved pet.

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  3. I was dreading reading this book because I didn't see how it could be anything but heart wrenchingly sad. But I found reading someone else's grief story so uplifting.

    It's a no-you're-not-crazy-this-is-just-a-really-sucky-thing-you're-going-through kinda book.

    I really hope people aren't put off by the Heart Dog language because it's such a helpful book.

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    1. Yes, I think that's what I liked the most about it too - the "no you're not crazy". A lot of people can't really relate when you're "still" grieving the dog months later. It's so helpful to know others have been through it.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    stella rose's momma

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    1. I know it will be a helpful book for lots of folks.

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  5. Thank you for telling us about this book. It has been 9 months since losing Greta and I still cry.
    hugs
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

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    1. Poor Greta. She was cheated on time, just like Abby, but not on quality of life. And I hear you on the timeline. Those first 8 or 9 months after losing Abby were really hard for me.

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  6. Lilly looks like a border collie version of Jimmy! Sadly, I have a close friend on the verge of needing this book. I will keep it in mind.

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    1. Yes, she does have Jimmy's same smile. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. Such a hard thing to go through.

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  7. I started blogging because I had trouble dealing with the death of my heart dog, Logan. It's been over 3 years -- and Jedi does a wonderful job at filling the hole in my heart -- but I still cry when talking about Logan.

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    1. Yeah, I can totally start crying if I think too much about Abby. Since "Rescue Me, Maybe" is based on her, there are parts of that book I can't get through without crying!

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  8. I can cry real tears just thinking about dogs I have lost in my life...all heart dogs. This from someone who has never cried in a movie.

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    1. I cry at movies all the time - if a dog dies or gets hurt. People die? meh...

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  9. I am really wanting to get that book! It sounds so helpful!

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    1. It is helpful - and reassuring to know you're not alone in your feelings.

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  10. I've loved every dog and cat I've had and have grieved for each at their passing (fortunately, in all but one case they were quite old). I won't say I loved any more than the others, but there has been one cat and two dogs that I guess I bonded with in a different - not even stronger - way. My Misty was a Beagle/Shepherd I adopted as a puppy when I first got married. She and I went through a lot together, including me losing my brother and the birth of my first daughter. My cat, Anya, I adopted from a pregnant woman - her husband was making her get rid of the cat. Anya was nearly 10 when we adopted her and lived another 10 years. I have never had a cat with a personality like hers, and there was just something about her. Then, most recently, I lost my sweet, deaf hound girl, Ran, who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder the beginning of the year and who passed in April. Ran had turned five on November 1st of last year and was the only furbaby I lost so far before their time. She was also the one of my current dogs and cats I had the strongest bond with. I'm crying about her just typing this. It's been two months, but it hurts as bad as if I lost her yesterday. I miss them all,but the ones who affected me the most were Misty, Anya, and now Ran. I'd definitely call them my "heart" dogs and cat.

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    1. Oh, I'm so sorry for your losses, especially Ran. It's so hard to lose a pet before their fair share of time. It's hard to put a finger on what makes a "heart" dog or cat, I think. I wouldn't say it's that you love them more, or necessarily bond with them more... it's just some sort of extra-special connection. It's hard to describe. Like, I wouldn't say that I loved Abby more than I love Rita. And I actually think Rita loves ME more than Abby loved me - Abby loved everyone! But still... there was just something about my Abby girl. Maybe, like I said above, the extra time I spent with her due to her illness, it just made me miss her that much more when she was gone. I think I also aspired to be more like her in some ways - she had a huge zest for life. Rita and I are much more alike - wary of strangers and happy to just be home alone together. The relationship with each pet is unique - but some just hit you harder.

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  11. Gosh, I am tearing up just thinking about reading the book! I found Roxanne's blog when Cricket had vaccine reactions, and I followed from there.
    I've had some special dogs, but I'm not sure if I would call any of them a "heart dog". I did grieve hard for our Lab mix Maggie, but she died young and tragically, and that might be why. I will be reading this book at some point....with a huge box of kleenex by my side.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Ya know, I was worried that I'd be a weepy mess while reading it, but I did okay. It's got a lot of practical advice, but I suppose the fact that it's been 3+ years since we lost Abby and almost 6 since we lost Bailey helps.

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  12. Thanks for sharing, I am definitely getting. I had a heart dog Norman.

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    1. Oh, I know Norman was your special boy. <3

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  13. I'm hearing more and more about this book. Still dealing with Leo's loss, today marks the 1st anniversary of his passing. It's a struggle. Sounds like a great read, just not right now for me. I'm so happy for your friend.

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    1. Oh, wow, is it one year already? I know how hard that one year mark is. I hope you are taking care of yourself today!

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  14. I had a heart dog, Angel K - and losing her knocked me back for a very long time. I know Roxanne in person, and I am looking forward to reading her book. Angels K and Lilly went to dog school together from puppyhood onward...

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    1. Oh, I didn't know you ladies know each other and that angels K and Lilly went to dog school together. I hope the girls are together again. And, I hear you - I was knocked back (that's a good way to put it) when we lost Abby for a long time.

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  15. That book sounds very cool!!!

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