I love dogs and have had the privilege of sharing my life with them for 25 years.

But until now, I’ve never been part of a pack that has lived together their whole lives. We currently have three dogs. Sammy is (we think) 14 and has kidney disease. They gave him six months to live in March 2020, but here we are. His brother Strider will be 11 this summer. And Bogart, the baby, is 8. Every day, week after week, month after month, we survive the world by being here for each other. Every day. 

And let me tell you, having a pack that has spent its whole life together is a beautiful thing. They’re so good together, while at the same time they’re each so different. 

The first go round I had with an aging dog was Tucker. He’s the one in the book jumping at the beach. I wrote something for him after watching him change, and age, and then say goodbye. Then there was Sydney, who is on the cover of Gone Dogs. Only, Sydney didn’t seem to age at all. She just heard voices one day when she was 14, and that was the end (a stroke, they think.) 

But this time around feels different. They’re all aging so beautifully together and it dawned on me recently what a gift it is to be part of it. My wife and I discussed adding a puppy to the pack the way we did when Tucker and Sydney were aging—as a way to integrate a new dog into the pack. But I don’t think we will. What we’re going through is too special. Somehow. 

So the one thing about an aging pack is that … eventually they’ll all say goodbye. Is that sad? Oh heck yeah. And I could easily mope around thinking about the inevitable. Absolutely. It’s what I did the first time with Tucker. And I know there will be days when I look over at my old Aussie and feel the pang of sadness knowing that he’s slowly leaving me.

But it is not this day. 

This day we enjoy every moment as a pack that has been together for a very long time. Their whole lives. 

There’s no room for sadness. Not today. 

It’s a beautiful thing being part of an aging pack.

Me among them. ❤️

Everyone who knows me knows I love dogs. 

But why? 

A friend recently asked me this question and I had to really think about it. I mean, sure, dogs are fun, and awesome, and cute, and they provide unconditional love. They’re great listeners, they provide protection, they keep you laughing, and they comfort you when you need it.

But those things are all universals. Which is quite remarkable when you think about it. What an amazing creature, the humble dog. 

So I gave the question of why I love dogs some thought. And after about a day, it struck me

Dogs keep me in the moment. 

As human beings we’re blessed (cursed?) with sensing the future and seeing in the past. And we spend a LOT of time in these two places.

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” This line, which is in John Lennon’s song, “Beautiful Boy,” but was actually written by cartoonist Alan Saunders, perfectly captures how most people I know live. And if it’s not the future, it’s the past. It’s the same for me as it is anyone.

However, the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve learned that life is not lived in the future or the past. But in the now. The right now. For example, as you’re reading this … you’re only reading this. And in a minute, this moment will become the past. You might do laundry later, but right now you’re reading this. That’s why this moment is all that ever really exists. 

And my dogs remind me of this fact every single time I look them in their big beautiful eyes. They aren’t thinking about yesterday. They’re not thinking about tomorrow. They’re thinking that right now, as they gaze into my eyes, life is pretty fantastic. 

Yes, keeping me in the moment is the thing I love most about dogs. Because in these beautiful little moments with them, only one thing exists—love. And that’s pretty cool. 

❤️ 

 

This is a photo of Sydney, who is on the cover of our book.

At some point every person who loves a dog will have to say goodbye to it. Here’s what to expect.

Gone Dogs - Tales of Dogs We've Loved

In recognition of World Book Day on April 23, we are giving away a custom illustrated portrait of your dog to two lucky winners. We’re teaming up with Sheri Mayrberger, who we recently featured on our blog. Sheri creates remarkable illustrations of dogs that we know our fans will cherish. 

So here’s how to enter – 

1) Buy a book. That’s it. Simply purchase a book through our website (not Amazon) and you become automatically qualified to win one of these amazing portraits. 

2) Share the page GoneDogs.com/buy on Facebook or Instagram (or yes, Twitter too if you’re there) and TAG US in the post. If you don’t tag us, we can’t see that you shared it. Feel free to tell everyone what you think of our book too. We understand that many of our fans have already purchased a book (thank you!), so we wanted to give you a chance to win too. 

In May we will randomly draw one name from each category and contact the lucky winners. 

Got questions? Hit us up on Facebook or email us. Good luck and have fun! There are so many great books out there, we’re honored that you like ours. Thank you. 

A friend recently shared a portrait of his dog Cash that I was so impressed with, I wanted to share it with dog lovers everywhere.

The artist’s name is Sheri Mayrberger, and she creates custom, hand-drawn color pet portraits from photographs. I emailed Sheri to make sure it was ok that I shared her work here, and she agreed. She doesn’t have a website or Instagram, but gets her work via word-of-mouth.

So here’s a sample of Sheri’s work:

Isn’t it terrific? If you’re interested in getting a hand-drawn portrait of your dog (or pet), she offers a range or options:

5x 7 in a finished 8x 10 mat – $40

8×10 in a finished 11 x 14 mat – $85 for a single pet $85, $90 for two views of same pet $90, and $95 for two pets in same portrait
$10 postage per portrait

You can reach her at slmayrberg@yahoo.com or 231-881-5994. She said that you can call, text, or email her to get started.

– Jim

The top question we get around here is, “Is the book sad?”

It’s a fair question. After all, the title “Gone Dogs” implies that the dogs are no longer living. Which is true. Our idea was to make a book of tributes to our best friends. Tributes being past tense. 

So yes, if the idea that dogs die makes you sad—then it’s a sad book. But dogs do die. Too soon. And that’s a sad thing that all dog lovers take into account when we share life with them.

But if we all focused on the sadness of a dog’s death, none of us would choose to have dogs in the first place. That’s because the sad part is just a tiny little part. Sure, it hurts. But it hurts because during their lives it was pure happiness. After they die, their stories linger with us for the rest of our lives. And these stories are always happy. Nobody encapsulates the brilliance of a dog’s life by the moment they die. That would be awful and no one would have dogs. 

That’s why Gone Dogs is not a sad book. Who would want to read a book filled with sad stories? Not us. 

We created Gone Dogs as a celebration of dogs we’ve loved. A book honoring these amazing friends—these remarkable lives. 

The book is 52 stories and poems from people around the world sharing the dogs of their lifetimes. No two are the same. Some of the stories will make you laugh out loud. Some will make you cry. But all of them will make you feel. You can count on that. That’s because all of the stories are sweet and lovely, and they all illustrate the remarkable bond we have with these crazy animals. 

Gone Dogs isn’t sad. Gone Dogs is beautiful. And in this beauty, you will feel every emotion that you’ve been gifted as a human being. 

One of our readers said this: “This book will heal your soul.” We feel that this one line perfectly captures the essence of Gone Dogs. Because dogs do heal our souls.

Yes, you will feel. A lot. Because when you love a dog, that’s real love. And it’s a love that continues long after a dog is gone—through stories we tell about them.  

This is a book of those stories. 

See what people are saying about Gone Dogs.

 

How amazing is Gone Dogs? Don’t take our word for it, check out what readers are saying.

People and dogs have gotten a lot closer in 2020. And we’re all pretty happy about it.

With the onset of COVID-19, people around the world hunkered down and sheltered in place. Because we’ve learned that isolation is the only sure way to defeat the spread of the virus.

But people are social animals. Isolation is hard for us. And so in a year when we all desperately missed routine socialization and companionship, our dogs provided it. In buckets.

Our dogs have given us solace, hope, and a warm body to lean on when the days felt heaviest.

A recent study by Washington State University showed that more than 70% of people reported spending more overall time with their dog as a result of COVID-19, and 42.5% said they were walking their dogs more frequently. Respondents also said that their dogs helped ease depression and anxiety while providing purpose/meaning to their lives during the self-isolation from COVID-19.

People need companionship. Which is why animal shelters across the country reported surges in adoptions this year—often emptying once over-crowded facilities. Breeders also reported a rise in demand and have waitlists deep into 2021. And nearly half the people who fostered dogs early into the pandemic, ended up adopting the dogs themselves.

Why?

Companionship. Steadiness. Love.

As any dog-lover will tell you, our dogs want only one thing—to please us. And this year they’ve done more than that. They’ve helped us survive.

Give your dog an extra hug tonight. He deserves it.

For a book filled with remarkable stories of love, get a copy of Gone Dogs today. ❤️

Gone Dogs - Tales of Dogs We've Loved

Back in 2015, we had an idea to create a crowd-sourced book dedicated to the dogs of our lives. Dogs who are gone, but not forgotten. We completed the book in the fall of 2019, and the result was a stunning anthology featuring 50 stories by people from all over the world. We all but sold out by February, and were feeling pretty good about things.

In preparing to ramp up again, 2020 arrived with all of its, well, 2020. And so our priorities shifted as we hunkered down with our families and did our parts to stay safe and sane. 

Still, we always knew we wanted to publish Gone Dogs as a softcover book since our fans asked for one. And so we pointed to December to complete the project. 

Only, 2020 being what it is, even the most well-intentioned plans this year have been challenging.

But we did it! And we are delighted to now offer Gone Dogs as a paperback. Just in time for the holidays. Whew! 

Gone Dogs - Tales of Dogs We've Loved

The softcover edition, which is available in both full color and black and white, has all the great stories, poems, and photographs as the hardcover book. But the best part is that this edition includes two new stories by renowned blogger Heather B. Armstrong, and celebrated columnist Tommy Tomlinson. And yes, they’re each as heartwarming and beautiful as you’d expect.  

Suffice it to say, Gone Dogs more magical than ever. Plus, because we’re selling and mailing directly, we are able to offer FREE SHIPPING on all orders through December. 

As we wind down on a pretty crazy year, we can look back on its lessons with gratitude. We’re grateful to have made it this far, and grateful that we were able to fulfill an important task with the softcover edition. Thank you for continuing to inspire us to share these amazing stories of love.

If you know someone who loves dogs, this book makes the perfect gift.

We hope you enjoy it.

Jim and Laurie

Gone Dogs - Tales of Dogs We've Loved

Last month we were honored to share out book on the Charlotte Readers Podcast. Listen here.