“As I prepared for the inevitable loss of Hannah, I learned an eye-opening truth: preparing for death is preparing for life. God has revealed so much to me through this unique canine friendship,” Dave Burchett writes in the introduction to his book, "Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace." This two hundred and fifty-six page hardbound targets those who enjoy stories about pets, especially dogs, and how they relate to God. With no profanity or violence, it is geared toward adults, yet mature teens might glean ideas and suggestions regarding life. Using the New International Version of the Holy Bible, the NIV, KNJ, ESV, TLB, NET and The Message are also referenced. After a foreword by Bart Millard and an introduction, twenty-three chapters explain different characteristics of Burchett’s dogs, complete with black and white photographs, quoted sayings, and written out Bible verses. The ending includes an afterword, acknowledgments, in memory, notes, and the author’s biography. When Dave and his wife adopted Hannah, a Labrador puppy, he was not prepared for the education regarding the Almighty he received through his beloved furry friend. Having his dear companion for eleven years, he was disheartened when he learned she had an incurable tumor. After the dog’s demise, it took time to allow another dog named Maggie to fill the void in his heart. While reflecting on being a sports writer for the Texas Rangers, dealing with his wife’s breast cancer, accepting his only daughter dying of a birth defect, understanding his mother’s passing, and watching his grandson grow, he ponders lessons learned from the two special dogs. Learning how these domesticated creatures live in the moment, run freely in joyful abandonment, lean on others for support when afraid, follow in trust, and have gratitude, forgiveness, and affirmation, the writer correlates how we should approach God as our Master with the same unabashed vigor and adoration. Like our lovable pets with their attitudes that shake off rejection and disappointment without bitterness, we need sit, stay, abide, and keep our eyes on Jesus as we live our daily lives. Although the story includes some examples of unrelated events in the author’s life, the concept that we humans should notice are those actions of man’s “best friend” that resemble the need for a closer relationship with our Creator. Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s opinions.
Those of us who own dogs or simply know of dogs recognize that there is something about the canine species that can make you believe that dogs were put on earth to show their oft-erring human companions that there is a better way to be and to live. How many of us as dog owners often pause and think, "if only I were as [fill in the blank] as my dog" ? Well, this book, in a delightful and thought-provoking way, fills in that blank one chapter at a time, as Dave reflected on the qualities his dogs Hannah and Maggie were demonstrating about how to live life better. Dave relates how when he received the news that his beloved Hannah had cancer, he took to heart the message conveyed to him by his vet: "Hannah does not know she is sick. Dogs have no fear of death, so they live in the moment. Enjoy each moment that you have." At this point, Dave says, "I decided to experience fully the final journey Hannah and I had begun together and live fully in each moment." The result was a journal which has now become a book, as Dave considered how many and varied were the lessons he was gleaning from the quality of life seen in a dog who lives in the moment. As a believer in Christ, Dave sprinkles each chapter with spiritual insights. "I began to learn that part of being content on the journey with Jesus is simply trusting Him one day at a time. You can't live in regret of the past. It is forgiven. You can't live in fear of the future. It is in God's hands. Without regret or fear you are free to live in the moment. Or as C.S. Lewis put it, 'where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?'" and then, "It was true. Worrying would not add a single moment to my life or to the life of my friend Hannah. Thanks to a kind and wise veterinarian I experienced a spiritual epiphany" Hannah was a living example of the quality of a life that simply enjoyed what she had at the present moment without fear or regret. So happily, be assured that this is not just another sad book laden down with the grief of a dog lover knowing his beloved friend has a terminal disease. Of course there is grief in that, and Dave gently for a time takes us through it, but there is so much more that is joyful and life-affirming. You will love the tidbits taken from the life and mindset of a dog and even more, how Dave seamlessly turns each vignette into a lesson for us to take to heart in our own walk through life. First there are the tales of faithful life-affirming Hannah, and then stories of Dave's next dog Maggie, a lovable but rowdy rescue who had an entirely different set of lessons to teach. Twenty three chapters, each with a different lesson in life from Hannah or Maggie, with titles such as "Always There", "Be Present" , "Live in the Moment", "Unleashed!" , "Run to the Master" , "Shake Off the Lies" , "Trust ... the Currency of Love" , "Live Out of Who You Are" , "Gently Leading" . "Sit! Stay!" (my favorite and presumably the inspiration for the book title); that's just a few, there's plenty more. Whether you read the book in bite sized portions one chapter at a time, or feast on the whole in one sitting, you will enjoy it either way. Highly recommended for an enjoyable read which will also provide food for your spiritual journey in a very novel and entertaining way. I fully expect to go back to this book for review when I feel my human side is pulling me too far away from the lessons our dogs would really like us to remember.
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!
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!
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.