Book Review & Giveaway! Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion.

simon bookAs many of you likely know, Jon Katz is my all-time favorite author. Whenever he announces he is working on a new book, I find myself on the edge of my sofa, eagerly waiting to curl up with a new book of his.

I have to say that I felt an extra bit of eager anticipation waiting for Saving Simon, as I’ve come to love and understand donkeys more because of Jon writing about them on his blog for many years.

I want to begin with my favorite passage from Saving Simon:

“When an animal guides you, emotionally and spiritually, it is not an obvious thing. Rather, they open doors indirectly, and then a domino effect sets in. They open up one part, and then that experience opens up another.”

As someone whose life has been positively changed for the better and enriched in ways I never saw coming because of caring for a dachshund that was paralyzed, I can closely relate to how the experience opens many facets of deepening in our understanding of love and compassion.

It was difficult to begin the story and read of the conditions in which Simon lived, so close to death when he was found and Jon, and his wife, Maria brought him to their farm. It brought me to tears and I had to set the book down for a moment.

But Simon was now in a place where he could heal and begin to live again. And in the process, as animals often do, they heal the humans around them, oftentimes without us even suspecting what is happening to us.


Another passage from the book that touched me was this one:

And again, there was Simon’s spirit in my head. I can’t speak for what’s inside of his genial consciousness, but I can speak to what was inside of mine. From the first, I was struck by what I saw as the great trait of acceptance in Simon. People always spoke of him as being abused, rescued or neglected, but I saw no sign that Simon thought of himself in that way. Simon immediately got down to the basics of life—eating, walking, pursuing the girls, getting his ration of carrots and apples, getting brushed and fussed over.

This is what I’ve come to love deeply about animals. Their adversity to getting on with life despite what they’ve been through. Their ability to love again also speaks volumes.

Jon beautifully shares how Simon opened up a new world for him of understanding compassion in a way I’ve thought the same way in caring for special needs dogs.

He describes Simon as a magical helper, a spirit guide to help him on his hero journey. His helper appeared in the form of a donkey. Who’d of thunk, right?

But I believe our animal friends are calling out to us to be open to these important lessons to help heal our planet. Simon was just what Jon’s heart needed in opening to a new way of understanding. And when we open our hearts, we also open ourselves more deeply to understanding our fellow humankind.

Jon’s honesty in sharing how he wished to understand the farmer that had Simon before him, I found, to be extraordinary. In one aspect he wanted the farmer, who was so far down into despair after all he endured the past years of hardship, to snap out of it, he realized the farmer was beyond reach.

If we don’t feel for the human being who is so far into this dark place, how can we care for, and be open to the animals and planet around us?

To feel compassion for all living beings is what helps each of us to heal, just as Jon so beautifully shares through his story of Simon.

Simon, as I believe all animals are, are the definition of compassion. To now know Simon through the written word of Jon has opened another part in me that I welcome and am forever changed for the experience. Thank you, Simon….and Jon.

GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment below by midnight cst, Oct. 22nd to be eligible for a copy of Saving Simon that I will be giving away. I will be using to pick the winner and will announce on my blog on Thursday, Oct. 23rd (US residents only).

Mama… Tell Me the Story Just One More Time Please.

gidget apr 2014

My heart yearned for another dachshund with special needs to care for.

More love in this heart of mine to be shared.

Time for it to expand once again and take in more teachings from the short little dog they call wiener dog.

Then one day, after much searching,

there you were.

You seemed larger than life looking back at me from the big monitor on my computer,

Even though you were described as only weighing nine pounds.

It was your eyes. I fell deep into them. Into this blissful, knowing place, feeling as if I’d been here before.

It felt as if I was seeing my own soul reflecting back to me.

I wondered, Had we been together before?

Space and time stood absolutely still in that moment, as my heart rapidly beat in my chest, a familiar rhythm.

I knew. I knew without a doubt that you were the one.

My heart was electrified and I felt connected to you with every fiber of my being.

Your eyes spoke to me telling me that you were on your way home.

The final destination of your  journey right into my heart.

Welcome home, little one. Welcome home.

I was inspired to write this after posting the above photo on my Facebook wall this past week. When my mom saw it she thought Gidget’s eyes were telling me to tell her the story one more time of how she came to live with me. Thank you to my special mama for inspiring me!

The Animals are Talking!

blue-jayI’ve made more of a conscious decision to pay attention to the messages from all the animals in our world. Though I really believe dog is one of my spirit animals, I also believe all animals have much to teach me.

As I’m opening myself more to this I think I should perhaps change my website/blog name from Joyful Paws to Joyful Paws wings, hooves, etc. GRIN.

The more I understand and read about how animals try to get messages to us, the more I smile in complete wonder. You don’t have to live in a place full of animals around you to pay attention to their messages for you. They can come to you in images you see on TV or in a magazine or book, something you’ve heard, or an animal that appears before you.

Yesterday I posted on my Facebook page an image of Owl and Butterfly together that touched me. In learning to understand all their messages, I  turn to “The Animal Wisdom Tarot” cards by Dawn Brunke and Dr. Steven Farmer’s book, “Animal Spirit Guides.”

When I read about each animal I read and listen carefully to what resonates with me and find my lesson in their offering.

So this morning as I was doing my yoga practice, a bluejay landed in the tree outside my window. I’ve not seen a bluejay in a long, long time. He flitted back and forth for a time being and then flew off.

I smiled and could hardly wait to get done with my practice to hear what message he had for me.

As I picked up Dr. Steven Farmer’s book and began to read, I got tears in my eyes from these thoughts from Bluejay that feel right for me right now:

Rather than just dabbling in the spiritual/metaphysical realm, choose a path to explore and go as far as you can with it.

Whatever the situation that has triggered some fear, attack it boldly and courageously.

You’re feeling threatened or intimidated by someone, particularly someone you see as stronger or more capable that you are.

You have an interest in a number of subjects and want to explore them all to a degree.

Bluejay had other thoughts to offer, but the above resonated with me at this time.

What really fascinates me about being more open to the teachings of all animals is how they really speak to us of where we are at in our lives and what we are working through.

I want to know more, and it’s why I welcome being as open as possible to hearing and understanding what they have to share with me.

We shall see who arrives next to share another teaching with me!