I had the pleasure and honor of being given the opportunity of reading and reviewing a delightful and touching book, Raising My Furry Children by Tracy Ahrens.
Before I even opened the book I knew I was going to love it. I know there are some of you who don't consider your pets to be your "furry children", but I also know there are many of you, like myself, WHO DO.
Tracy Ahrens is one of those people. Her book features columns that she had written over the years, more or less in diary form (minus dates of entry and in no particular chronological order) that highlight moments in her "furry children's" lives that run the gamut of hilarious to heart-wrenching.
If you are like me you derive great enjoyment from reading about the experiences of other "pet parents" that make you laugh and that also offer you the opportunity to learn. Raising My Furry Children will not disappoint.
The first half of the book features Tracy's first dog, an American Brittany named Speckles (who will be featured on my dog's blog, Dakota's Den, Friday, January 27th.) and the hilarious and touching moments of his life that Tracy has so beautifully documented. A portion of the proceeds of the book sales will go to American Brittany Rescue.
Also in the first half of Raising My Furry Children is a guest story by Steve Dale. Steve authors a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column (Tribune Media Services), and is host of two nationally syndicated shows (www.petworldradio.net) and Steve Dale's Pet World, heard on WGN in Chicago. He's also a contributing editor at USA Weekend. Recently he was named a National Ambassador for the American Humane Association.
The second half of the book touched me the most because it features Tracy's cats:
Desdemona-who was from a family of four kittens that were born under Tracy's desk in college. At the time, she was studying William Shakespeare and as a result each one of the kittens were named after Tracy's favorite Shakespearean characters.
Chocolate Drop aka (C.D.)-who Tracy adopted when she was one or two months old from a friend who got her from a farm where she was no longer wanted. C.D. had epilepsy and Tracy says I believe that she is truly special; that is why I was given the chance to live with and learn from this creature with a devastating condition.
|"Joan Of Arc"|
Joan of Arc-who was rescued from the side of a road where she was standing next to one of her siblings who had been killed after being hit by a car. Tracy named her Joan of Arc because of her determination and strength to live through anything.
|"Captain Jack Sparrow"|
Captain Jack Sparrow-was the latest edition to the family at the time that Tracy was writing the book. Tracy initially named the little man Sparrow after the sparrows he was infatuated with. She received him after she had lost her job and her life "was in a whirlwind". Tracy says that Shamans say that sparrows are spirit messengers that teach us how to find your soul song. She says that she found that message to be fitting for the time Sparrow came into her life.
Being the cat person that I am Tracy's documentation in the second half of the book particularly touched me. A few of the stories that Tracy has so touchingly documented are:
Desdemona being a "closet searcher"
|Tracy and Captain Jack Sparrow|
An adorable passage about Desdemona and C.D. and their love of playing with rolled up "paper wads"
Pet names as in the names we call our pets that are different than the ones we have given them. Tracy says: I have come to realize that if I ever have a child, it probably will never know its real name.
Saying Good-bye to Daddy- about Tracy's divorce and it's affect on her "furry children"
Saying Good-bye To Pepper- her brother's cat of 14 years who they had to put to sleep due to Pepper suffering from an enlarged heart. This section had me in tears because it made me relive my own devastation after watching my beloved Bobo's decline having been afflicted with the same condition. This section gripped my heart and didn't let go.
From Tracy when having to say good-bye to her beloved Desdemona:
I had recently read a book, "Spirit Animals and the Wheel of Life", by Hal Zina Bennett. In it, Bennett speaks of the Zuni culture of New Mexico. When the men of the tribe hunted, they would rush to a dying animal, press their lips to the mouth of that animal and exchange its last breaths with it. "This ritual, " the book states, "is one of literally intermingling the spirits of the hunter and the hunted, of honoring the sacrifice and acknowledging their spiritual bonds." I was bending over Desdemona that morning, my face close to hers, kissing her, and talking softly into her ear. I exchanged breaths with her. In those final moments, our spirits intermingled.
|"Mini" as drawn by Tracy|
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the superb illustrations (48 total!) that were drawn by Tracy and are featured in this book. They were done using graphite (a medium I ADORE working with but without the exquisite results that Tracy has brilliantly accomplished.) I was in complete awe of their life-like appearance and the obvious artistic gift that Tracy has in her execution of these drawings.
I have no human children that I have given birth to, which is always a nagging thought when I think about events that have transpired in my life. I always dreamed I would have children of my own but God had other plans.
As a result my beloved Bobo, my cuddly and courageous Cody, and my delightfully-daffy Dakota are all three the "children I never had." To those who think it is nuts to refer to your pets as your "furry children" I say "pfffffffffffttttt!!!"
To those who share Tracy's feelings as well as mine, I say pick up a copy of this tenderly touching gem. You will be laughing, nodding in agreement, and touched to your core.
From Tracy: Most importantly, my pets are listeners, observers and counselors, lying on my lap when I am upset or tired, and jumping about happily when I am full of energy. I talk to them, and they look into my eyes with simple understanding.
As Tracy states in her front-of-the-book dedication this book is for:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tracy is a graduate of Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. Tracy Ahren's current columns appear on the Tails Pet Media Web site as a monthly blog-www.tailsinc.com.
For More Information Visit: www.raisingmyfurrychildren.weebly.com and www.tracyahrens.weebly.com
Watch Tracy's Delightful Interview With Steve Dale: