Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 2-14-11 | TheFencePost.com
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Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 2-14-11

Terri Schlichenmeyer
LaCrosse, Wis.

You’ve had colds before. Plenty of ’em, but this year’s was the worst.

Oh, sure, you had the usual stuffy runniness and the congested everything. But this year, you couldn’t think, you couldn’t move, and you surely couldn’t work. This year’s cold laid you out flat, and all the pharmaceuticals on Earth weren’t going to fix it.

Fortunately, you had the best medicine in the world, and it arrived in a furry body that seemed to understand that you were ailing. In the new book “What a Difference a Dog Makes” by Dana Jennings, you’ll read about the life and times of another fuzzy-headed soother.

When Owen Jennings was just 8 years old, he wanted a dog more than anything. The Jennings family had already tried the hamster-gerbil-lizard route with varying degrees of success – mostly bad – but Owen persisted, sneaking dog references into nearly every conversation.

So, after a disastrous trial with a rescue dog, the family brought home a curly black miniature poodle puppy they named Bijou de Minuit.

Bijou loved Owen but she reserved her Happy Dance for Jennings’ wife, Deb. The pooch quickly learned who was a soft-touch at the dinner table. She loved chasing rabbits and getting her belly scratched, but she hated to be picked up. She had an uncanny ability to sense when you might wake her up, and she growled in her sleep. Her greetings were never filled with kisses; Bijou always went for a good Hello ear sniff.

But that was only part of being a beloved family pet. Bijou was also a healer.

When Owen Jennings was a senior in high school, his liver inexplicably failed. He recovered in time to graduate, but it was a scary period for the family.

Then Dana Jennings was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.

Through both illnesses, the family was aided by a furry presence that seemed to know when she was needed. It was a balm to roll over and find her curled body. Sometimes, she just came into the room to reassure herself and her patient. She brought “normal” back to the Jennings household, and that made all the difference.

All right, so you’re probably thinking that this is a sad book with a sad ending, right?

Nope. “What a Difference a Dog Makes” is filled with love, adjustment, family memories, and it’s hilarious.

Author Dana Jennings doesn’t dwell on illness in this book. He touches upon it, then turns away repeatedly. This isn’t a book about being sick; it’s about pets, and Jennings does a great job in writing about them. There is laughter in this book, and lots of it. There are tears (would you expect anything less?). And there’s a story that dog lovers will surely identify with. What more could you want in a shaggy tale?

Though it’s less than 150 pages, this book is packed with something for all kinds of animal lovers. If you’re looking for good cold-weather reading, “What a Difference a Dog Makes” will leave you warm.


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