Thursday, January 17, 2019

Joy Unleashed Book Review

Joy Unleashed Book Review
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I have always believed that dogs find us when we need them most.  In the case of Jean Baur, that dog was Bella, a young puppy rescued off of Dead Dog Beach in Puerto Rico.  As for me, I was found by Finn, who like Bella, through extraordinary circumstances, has become a bridge to what comes next in life.

The story of Bella and Jean goes far beyond your typical heart-warming adoption account.  Joy Unleashed is about finding true belonging and purpose, about reaching people who were previously unreachable, about providing primal comfort, and about bringing joy just by entering a room.  It is about the kind of human-animal bond that breaks through loneliness, fear, and the types of losses that leave us feeling shaken to our core.

Perhaps the best part of Bella's story is the element of unlikeliness.  Just as Bella was an unlikely candidate for what she became (a highly successful, much-loved therapy dog), nearly every one of us will also face times during our journey of becoming when others deem us unlikely—perhaps unlikely to become something special, or unlikely to make a difference.  The things that made Bella an unlikely therapy dog, her rough beginnings, her issues with other dogs and certain kinds of touch, as well as a general fearfulness, aren't really all that different from the types of things that keep many individuals from experiencing acceptance or success.

Both Bella and Jean needed something that only the other could provide.  As Jean wrestled with the loss of her job, with being uprooted from her home, and with starting over at the age of 65, she found that she and Bella complemented one another, and that they each enabled what would have been impossible to accomplish alone.

This is a book for anyone who has ever found herself unmoored and in need of a new direction, a new destination, a new love, or a new place of belonging.  This is a story that just may inspire you to be found by the animal who is waiting to become, in concert with you, joy unleashed.

I was drawn to this book because my rescue dog, Finn, and I are in the process of becoming a registered therapy dog team with Pet Partners (the organization through which Jean Baur and Bella have served).  It has been affirming of our new mission to celebrate all that Bella and Jean have accomplished even as we are joining together to bring comfort and cheer to those in need of a little extra tender loving care.

One of my favorite parts of this read was when the author realized that the heart of therapy teamwork is really about showing up and being present in ways that dogs, by nature, know how to do best.  It was at that moment that Jean Baur reflected on how she needed to become more doglike.  Isn't that the truth, that in learning how to offer up what dogs so innately, and beautifully, communicate—that we are not alone and that we are wonderful just the way we are—we become more human.




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12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful book review. I have known one therapy dog and seen several others over the years and I agree that dogs by nature just "Know" when they are needed most. By that attribute alone, they have much to teach us humans. Good luck to you and Finn on your journey together. Finn has risen above his difficult beginning and has much to offer those who need his specialness. I know you two were drawn together for a purpose and will fulfill it beautifully. You two could be Bella and Jean in your own book of life! :)

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    1. Thank you, Elf. Yes... I truly believe Finn and I were meant to be a family and an outreach team. He is teaching me everything I need to know about how to love unconditionally and how to be available to others (fully present) in ways that tells them they matter.

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  2. What a beautiful, encouraging review! You and Finn make sure a lovely team. I've certainly enjoyed watching Finn find "life" since he adopted you. It is exciting to hear that you two are working toward becoming a registered therapy team. Very cool! I'm not surprised that you would do that and I certainly applaud Finn. He is certainly a fearless little fellow and really has learned to "fly" with you. I have no doubt that the book is just as uplifting to read as you and Finn has been uplifting to watch.

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  3. I appreciate your lovely comments, Mouse. I'm so glad you are sharing our journey and rejoicing in the many ways Finn and I are finding our wings. It is such a blessing to experience the many facets of Finn's heart and spirit. Having a joy dog changes everything.

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  4. This sounds like a wonderful story that so many of us could find growth in. Here is hoping that you and Finn do awesome things together!

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    1. Yes... very much a growth opportunity. Thank you for your good wishes. Appreciated!

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  5. Wow, that sounds like the story of your life with Finn. How wonderful to have the story unfold just as yours and Finn's is unfolding. I love books like this, they tug at your heart strings and make you realize that there is just so much good still in the world around us. Inspiring to say the least. Thanks for a great review.

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    1. Books that remind me of the great goodness that lies within so many beautiful people are the antidote to all of the hate we see in the news every day. I choose to fill myself with light and love. And, of course, that is the essence of Finn.

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  6. This sounds like a good book to read. I am a dog lover and I love good dog stories.

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  7. A beautiful review. It sounds like a lovely read. My son and his girlfriend have recently rescued a dog, and we love that dog soooo much. He's so smart and loving. Breaks my heart what some animals go through. They just want to be loved, how hard can that be. Apparently hard for some. I'll be adding this book to my list of ones to get.

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    1. I have enjoyed seeing the posts about your grand dog. He is so blessed to be in a family that knows how to love.

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