A few years ago, I was driving to work and I heard a radio interview with a lady who had written a book called God Stories: Inspiring Encounters With the Divine. I loved the concept of real folks sharing their stories of how God intervened in their lives at critical moments.
When I got home later that day, I found the website for God Stories and sent editor Jennifer Skiff the story of how God influenced me to adopt my daughter. We started emailing, and I got to know Jennifer Skiff personally.She spends part of the year in Maine and part of the year in Australia, and she is a busy lady.
Sometime later, Jennifer was kind enough to read an advance copy of my book Adopting Alesia and give me a quote for the back cover.
When I heard she was accepting stories for a new book about how dogs work miracles in the lives of their owners, I got very excited. I decided to write up the story of how Coco helped Alesia transition into our family. The story was accepted for Jennifer's beautiful new book, The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man's Best Friend.
You can order advance copies of The Divinity of Dogs from Amazon. I am also going to be giving away an autographed copy here, soon.
Jennifer generously agreed to let me interview her about The Divinity of Dogs, and her answers are below.
1. How old were you when you got your first dog, and what was his/her name? My first dog got me! The first child in my parent’s home was a Boxer named Clara who I called Bookie. We adored each other.
2. How many dogs do you currently own? Names and breeds? Within days of finishing The Divinity of Dogs, both of my best friends, CousCous and ChickPea passed away. It’s been a tough year. I am the Trustee of the largest dog refuge in West Australia and quickly adopted a sick Mastiff named Frodo. At the same time, I adopted a one-eyed, 10 year-old Maltese mix named Honey. Frodo passed away this year and I still have Honey. When I return to Australia for the winter, my husband and I are adding to our family!
3. The new book, The Divinity of Dogs, explores how dogs have not only enhanced their owners' lives, but in some cases actually saved their lives. Can you share one or two of those stories?
“I had no reason to live”*
by Scott Thornsley
It was Christmas morning, 1995. My wife had left me in August, and two weeks later I lost my job of 19 years. I was alone without anyone to turn to. Worst of all, no one needed me anymore; my workplace or the wife I loved.
I’d just gotten my Ph.D. and was looking forward to enjoying the success that would come with it. Instead, the hunt for a new job was futile. Because of my new degree, I couldn’t get the most menial of jobs. Most people said I was overeducated. I felt like a total failure.
I thought long and hard and came to the conclusion that my life was not worth living. I decided to commit suicide.
The moment came. I’d decided on a method and was committed to carrying it out. At that very moment, my four year-old Rottweiler, Emma, bounded into the study. Her leash was in her mouth, which was not unusual. What was unusual was what she did next. She literally grabbed my hand with her mouth and ferociously pulled me toward the front door, tugging and yanking me out of my chair. She had never done this before.
There was a hard falling snow, which would make even the shortest of walks difficult. Her tugging continued. I decided to grant her one more walk.
Once we were outside, she wouldn’t let me go home. She continued, just ahead, leading me through neighborhoods and school athletic fields. Emma wandered without direction, refusing to let me turn around. A couple of hours passed, and during that time my mind cleared and I realized my life was not over. I had much to be thankful for and someone really did need me - even if it was a female Rottweiler named Emma. There is no doubt in my mind that Emma saved my life that day.
In the darkest of moments, a dog can make your life worth living.
*Permission to re-print from Jennifer Skiff, Author, The Divinity of Dogs.
4. Can you travel with your dogs to the two different countries where you live, or are there quarantine restrictions? I live in Maine and in Australia. Australia doesn’t have rabies. Because of that, the country has strict regulations. Quarantine is a nightmare and is a nine-month process. I’ve done it once. I’ll never do it again.
5. Share some of the reactions you've gotten to the book so far. The reviews are just starting to come in and they’re fabulous. The best review came unwittingly from a magazine publisher who, after reading the book, has asked me to write a monthly column of inspirational pet stories.
6. Any negative feedback from cat owners?! Ha. (The book isn’t out yet, we’re just getting the early reviews).
7. Since the publication of God Stories, do you get approached a lot by folks, still, with stories of faith like the ones in the book? Do you expect a similar reaction to the new book? Yes I do. Many people write to tell me how God Stories affected them and they often share their own stories. I also collect stories from my website: JenniferSkiff.com, for future books. So people can submit God and Dog stories there.
This book is resonating with people because many keep their feelings of love about their dogs to themselves. They’re afraid other people will judge them. This book shows them they’re not alone. And when you meet people who understand you, you want to talk to them!
Bio: Jennifer Skiff is an award-winning television producer, journalist and author. Her #1 Inspirational and #1 Spiritual bestseller, God Stories: Inspiring Encounters with the Divine is published in seven languages.
For more than a decade Jennifer traveled the world working as an investigative environmental correspondent for CNN. Her programs promoting animal welfare have aired on The Discovery Channel and networks globally. Among other honors, she's received the prized Environmental Media Award.
Passionate about animals and their welfare, Jennifer works with charities throughout the world to bring relief to abused and abandoned animals. Jennifer is Trustee of the Dogs' Refuge Home in Australia and is a Director of the SPCAHC and Pilots N Paws in the United States.