My search for the canine soul began the day my eight-year-old son led our family in a moving Christian ritual at the burial service for Kirby, our beloved black lab. In the coming weeks, I found myself wondering: What was this thing we’d experienced with this animal? Why did the loss hurt so poignantly? Why did my son’s act seem so right in its sacramental feel?
In The Grace of Dogs, I draw on biology, history, theology, cognitive ethology (the study of animal minds), and paleontology to trace how in our mutual evolution, humans and dogs have so often helped each other to become more fully ourselves. I explore questions like: Do dogs have souls? Is it accurate to say that dogs “love” us? What do psychology and physiology say about why we react to dogs in the way that we do? The Grace of Dogs paints a vivid picture of how, beyond sentimentality, the dog-human connection can legitimately be described as “spiritual”–as existing not for the sake of gain, but for the unselfish desire to be with and for the other, and to remind us that we are persons worthy of love and able to share love. This book is for any parent whose kids have asked if they’ll see Fido in Heaven, or who has looked their beloved dog in the face and wondered what’s going on in there. I hope you find it to be an illuminating and heartfelt read that will change how you understand man’s best friend.
PRAISE FOR THE GRACE OF DOGS:
“Beautifully written, touching and profound, this book makes reasonable what we already sense—that our dogs love in a way that goes much deeper than we think, and that teaches us something about what it means to be human. The Grace of Dogs, written by one of my favorite contemporary theologians, is perfect for dog lovers and those who love them. It will open your eyes to what’s really going on between us and our canine family members.”
–Nadia Bolz-Weber, author of Accidental Saints
“Like all the best writing (and theology), The Grace of Dogs comes from deep in the author’s personal experience. It will make you smile, shed a tear, and nod in recognition. You’ll find yourself reflecting on the most wonderful things in life… from the sincerity of a child to the wag of a black lab’s tail, from the grace of dogs to the grace of God.”
–Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration