Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review post. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not influenced by the product company and/or its affiliates in any way.
What does it mean to have the love of a dog in your life? The answer to that question is as individualized as each dog that finds a forever family. To someone who feels lost or alone, the love of a dog means companionship. To a child who receives a puppy for the first time, the love of a dog means having a faithful friend for life. To me, the love of a dog means unconditional support and always having a companion by my side who’s ready with a wag of her tail or slobbery kiss to make my day a little brighter.
To Tom Baker, the love of a dog means learning to live in the moment instead of existing in a constant state of worry. His new perspective on how to approach life comes from observing his dog Mango and how she fully embodies a life that God created for her without question. Tom’s collection of observations on how Mango approaches life come together in the book, One Dog’s Faith, and serves to teach us how we can benefit from the lessons our dogs unknowingly share with us everyday.
The story begins with Tom asking us “What If” as in what if we could find a deeper understanding into why God gave us dogs. He discusses all of the normal reasons we might have dogs, such as companionship, loyalty and unconditional love, but he can’t help but wonder if there’s something more residing just beneath the surface of a dog’s mind. We are then given an introduction to Mango and get a first hand perspective of what she does at night while her humans are fast asleep. To read Mango’s story we learn that nighttime is her ‘on’ time where she functions on high alert ready to warn her humans of imminent danger at a moment’s notice.
To those of us who have dogs, this nighttime routine is all too familiar! I for one can’t count on one hand the number of times my dog has woken up my house with her barks or growls at the things that go bump in the night. It always ends up to be nothing and we call for her to be quiet and go to sleep. It’s a fact that Mango is all to familiar with as well. She recounts how her own alarm system is met with a ‘be quiet Mango’ from her humans. She doesn’t mind though because she knows that humans don’t quite understand dogs and that’s okay. She’s content to stand guard anyway.
The first chapter of the book comes to an end with Tom providing his perspective on the possible life lessons God might be trying to shed light on by using Mango’s approach to the world around her. Each chapter of the book will end in a similar manner. For me, these chapter ending perspectives were thought provoking to say the least. As I read each one, I would look at my dog, who’s usually sleeping next to me, and wonder if she wasn’t trying to soften my own battle with anxiety and worry somehow.
As the book continues Tom takes a look at other possible reasons why God may have given us dogs. One chapter addresses the topic of “buts” and we get a humorous look into Mango’s take on how dogs get to know one another. She then shares insight into how many times she hears her humans say ‘but’ and notes the look of worry or concern that comes with that statement. Tom then addresses how he notices that Mango never second guesses anything. She simply take a leap of faith and pursues something, even when she doesn’t quite know how the situation will end.
Mango shares the heartache she feels in watching her Tom struggle with anxiety, stress and worry. She hears his financial struggles with keeping the business open and worrying what will happen if that plan fails. She senses that his faith in letting God remain in control of the situation may be wavering. She does her best to reassure him by encouraging him to give her a back scratch or play with her ball, but that never seems to be enough to pull him out of his worrisome thought process. Mango shares insight into how God lets us experience times of uncertainty so that he can lead up to something that’s greater than anything we can imagine on our own. It becomes clear to Tom that giving in to feelings of worry keeps him from seeing the countless blessings in life.
As the book begins to come to a close, Tom shares some insight he’s learned from his beloved Mango. He finally begins to understand what Mango has known all along and this is that God wants us to LIVE! He wants us to face any situation head on and know that regardless of the outcome, He will always be walking the journey with us. We are never alone and God will always provide a way for us, even when we can’t see the whole path.
My Final Thought
As I read this book I felt as if somehow I was seeing my dog in a different light. It was as if for the first time I stopped and truly paid attention to how she’s always aware of what’s going on around her. For example, I started to recognize how she comes rushing to my side when my voice raises or I start to get upset about something. She goes into comfort mode and does her best to relax my anxiety or worry and only leaves my side when she’s convinced that she’s accomplished that task. Like Tom and other dog owners, I have a lot to learn from my sweet dog!
I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with anxiety, worry or even in walking closer with God. Dogs are great teachers and if we are willing to stop and listen to them once in awhile, stressful issues in life just might become more bearable!