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Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace Hardcover – February 24, 2015
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Dave Burchett has written a truly wonderful book. I don’t know when I’ve shed so many tears, laughed so much, and been moved as deeply. It’s not just because I’m a lover of dogs (I am), but because this book is profound, refreshing, biblical, and true. It “smells like Jesus!” Read it and give it to everyone you know. They will rise up and call you blessed. (Steve Brown, Founder of Key Life Network)
When you’re in a fierce battle against breast cancer, be on the lookout for people―or pets―through whom God delivers His most heartwarming encouragement. My friend Joni Burchett was in the cancer battle for her life, but God blessed her with His warm, personal touch through the pawprints of her Labrador retriever, Hannah. But this isn’t any “dog story.” This is a book filled with courage, yet tenderness; bravery, yet gentleness. I highly recommend Stay to anyone who is looking for a fresh and unusual touch from the Lord! (Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder of Joni and Friends International Disability Center)
You can count on one opposable thumb how many books hold my interest. But Dave Burchett has written an incredible piece that describes what we’ve been trying to model to you all about God’s grace, His astonishing love, and what life feels like when humans discover who He’s remade them to be, even on their worst day. And the pages smell like a freshly cut lawn. I gotta get my master to read this! (Bali Lynch, John Lynch’s golden retriever)
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I don’t have any of those concerns regarding Dave Burchett’s new book, Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me About Life, Loss, and Grace. Though Dave is writing about Hannah, and later Maggie, he’s telling their story from his perspective – that of a best friend. Because Hannah and Maggie are man’s best friend – dogs. Dave has written what I think is the best biography of an animal as told from a human viewpoint that I’ve ever read.
I’ve not stopped thinking about what the vet said after giving Dave the emotional news of a terminal diagnosis for this beloved furry friend. The doctor explained that Hannah didn’t know she had cancer and would live each remaining day with all the life she had in her. “Dogs have no fear of death, so they live in the moment. Enjoy each moment that you have.” What began Dave’s journey of observing and learning from Hannah has the potential to shake you to the core of how you live life. The lessons he learned along the way are for all of us.
The freedom and grace Dave discovered through the months that remained for Hannah will shatter your view of rules, legalistic morality, anger, and even death. It’s not a fun story. I knew what was going to happened to Hannah, yet I still cried as Dave recounted the end of Hannah’s life.
Initially that was the end of the book. But, in the way that God always gets the last laugh, there would be more to the story. Maggie. A new rescue dog. An opportunity for Dave to teach someone else the lessons of forgiveness and joy he had learned from Hannah. Could a dog eager to destroy some good furniture and quick to hide in shame learn about unconditional love? Could a wild animal discover freedom on a leash?
This is a book of humor, faith, the path of loss, and the journey of rediscovering joy. I never learned those lessons from the fish, lizards, and hermit crabs we had as pets. It’s only been with dogs that I’ve experienced those same lessons. Dogs have something to teach us. It may even be why God created them in the first place. Dave knows that and uses his own experiences to get us closer to the heart of God.
I suspect at the end of this year I’ll be saying STAY was my favorite book of the year. I highly recommend you get a copy and read it soon. This is a book dog lovers – all animal lovers. It is a book I think every Christian should read – and those who are on the journey of seeking God. It’s also a book for everyone who just loves to read.
I suspect Dave’s words will become your own if you read STAY. “Hannah’s journey has changed me. I am more aware of living fully in each moment. I try to live in the freedom of God’s grace. I am accepting with gratitude what each day brings me. I try to find joy even when I don’t feel at my best. Hannah’s graceful and uncomplaining acceptance of pain, and ultimately death, challenges me to become bolder than I have ever been.”
Dave Burchett, leads us on a story of goodness and grace through the life he leads with his dogs, but mostly with his best life friend, Hannah, a golden retriever, the dog his family had during one of the lowest times of their life.
When Burchett’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, he started a journal. The book is written from the first person, and as journal entries I loved that about the book. This book was fantastic.
During Joni’s cancer treatments, Hannah stayed by their side and seems to “read” her owners behaviors and their love. Giving them some comfort and peace during each treatment and after her surgery. Then sweet Hannah was diagnosed with cancer.
They chose a course of treatment that would only make Hannah comfortable and keep her out of pain.
During those next few months they saw a lifetime of love, and grace in the way that Hannah lived her life. Putting their needs first. Hannah lived in the moment and was free. One of the best quotes in the book was when the vet told them this “dogs don’t fear death, they live in the moment”
After Hannah’s illness took her, Dave thought he would never be able to love again, however, when he saw sweet Savannah’s face, he fell in love.
When they brought Savannah home, they knew that her name was too close to Hannah’s so they eventually changed her name to Maggie. In doing so they learned that Maggie, didn’t really realize her name well. When they enrolled Maggie in obedience class, they learned the things she needed. In doing so they learned Maggie needed a leader, someone to take her and tell her yes, no, sit, stay, the commands in every dog’s life, as well as teach her to walk on a leash and guide.
Dave took each lesson that he learned and related it back to the Bible with a timely Bible verse, or story from the Bible and this book became a lesson, literally on grace, and humility. Love, loss and learning.
Learning from your dog is a very gracious thing because of what they can teach you. Turning that back and about Jesus Christ and how much He sacrificed for us.
What a blessing this book was for me. While I love my dog with all my heart and they are treated basically like royalty in my home, I was able to see that every day they give us everything they have every minute of their life.
God gives us everything we have, we just have to accept it. What a graceful life lesson this book is. I highly urge you to read it. Read it with your Bible in hand and get a great Bible study as well as just a great read!