Paw Prints In My Heart: Life Lessons Learned from the dog of my Life: Andrew Hessel
Unconditional love is something we all crave and want from our children, spouses and family. But, sometimes this type of love comes from another source. How far would you go and how much would you sacrifice for your pet? What would you do if you special dog needed numerous surgeries, countless operations and serious tests in order to survive? Just how far would you go and how much would you sacrifice in order to give this dog a quality life and keep him in yours?
Andrew Hessel answers these questions and many more but first he introduces us to the many amazing and special dogs that preceded the one the spotlights in this heartfelt biography and memoir of his special best friend Mac. Loving children and caring for them is the job of a parent but what Andrew does for Mac goes beyond that and his love and his family’s love for this special dog that never gave up on himself, never complained or whimpered and always smiled at everyone when greeting them, makes this story and his journey quite unique and special.
Paw Prints In My Heart: Life lessons learned from the dog of my life is more than just a tribute to Mac a beloved Lab and Andrew’s special writing partner. Sometimes in order to have closure or to just be able to deal with a death we need to write about our times with a loved one, indulge our emotions in order to define our future. Imagine what happens when Mac becomes part of his life thinking that he is in good health. Suggested by a friend that he would be the perfect dog for his family little did he know that this amazing dog that loved morning walks, at least one way. Would have to endure five leg surgeries and the disappointment that the doctor that was supposed to do the most critical ones might not be able to due to illness. No cartilage in his legs, bad joints, needing elbow surgery, skin cancer and intestinal blockage. But there was much more as he needed Adequan and Rimdadyl therapy for the final years of his life. Money spent that he could hardly afford. Sacrifices made yet Andrew would not give up on Mac. Friendships among people are rare and precious but this dog relied on Andrew so much that when he was away on business he became quiet and not quite as active knowing that the one person he trusted and loved the most was not there.
Mac provided joy, comfort, love and entertainment to his family. Although the expenses mounted up and the costs were difficult to keep up with, he and Lynne did everything to give him a quality of life that with anyone else might have been cut short. Doctor’s visits, operations, medication to slow down the pain of arthritis and the hope that maybe he would not suffer as much. Trusting a human being and giving that person his unconditional love and receiving it in return was probably part of what made Mac soar and love life.
Every visit, every outing, every important event is recounted, described as well as the tears, anguish and fear of losing another dog.
As I read his story and learn about Mac, I smile when I remember my mother in law’s dog Louie who was our favorite Beagle until she adopted Randy. Never growing up with dogs but a canary and turtles I cannot believe how attached I was to both of these dogs and how much I love my brother’s dog, and my niece Bella Bella. Writing this book as the author states was great “personal therapy.” It also does help and will help others that have lost pets and have to learn how to fill that empty void.
Paw Prints can be defined as the foot of an animal that has claws. But, the paw prints or imprints that are made within the pages of this book comes from many different places. If you could take a blank canvas and hang it on the wall of your living room it would contain when completed by the artist or photographer the history and lives of many precious dogs that entered the home of this author, filled his life and his family’s lives with joy, pleasure, heartaches, smiles and tears and created their own permanent record that would live on forever. The first would be Dog One named Bonnie her paw print would be one a Spaniel depicted in black and white with her picture next to it of this sweet and wonderful dog. Followed by Dapper a Labrador Miniature Collie mix whose paw print represents change in the author’s life and perspective about dogs. Next, after Dapper passed next came Ozzie. He might not have been the brightest dog, untrustworthy at times but nonetheless loved. Ozzie was difficult and out of control and although he tried taking him to Obedience Training not everyone wants to listen and you’ll learn more when you read pages 14-16 and will definitely bring on a paw print smile. Finally, we meet Mac. On page 19 you will see why his paw prints made such a lasting impression on the author. Choosing his family and him little did Andrew know that he would not only be getting a special dog but a best friend, confidant and writing partner.
Energetic, filled with mischief, love and definitely having a mind of his own, this dog was the family’s staple for companionship, love and entertainment for 14 years of his life. Imagine a dog that enjoys watching you read the paper and loving every minute of chewing up the chairs and table legs. But, Mac had a difficult life and after 10 months some harsh realities would come through, as Andrew would learn that Mac would require a lot of medical treatment for his legs. Lack of cartilage, lack of mobility at times, difficulty on the return trip on their morning walks, signs that something needed to be addressed and it was. Throughout the book you will learn about Mac’s many surgeries, his remarkable stamina to withstand the treatment, his never failing optimistic attitude and the undying love of a family that sacrificed a lot to make sure that he would have a quality life. Specialists, referrals, medication, diagnosed with hip dysplasia and learning that Mac had four bad legs and the prognosis was not great but no one ever gave up.
Visits to many different Vets, Dr. L, more than just a doctor but a devoted friend Mac had the best care and with both Lynne and Andrew’s devotion to him plus their sons how could he fail. Accepting others as they are is not easy and many do not. Andrew realized that Mac would have many good and bad days equaled with his physical limitations. Never resenting anything that needed to be done, never complaining and always looking to find a way to keep him going, giving him a better quality of life, Mac was a lucky dog, special pet and I know as you read more about him and get those hugs, wet kisses and he jumps up on you the reader to say hello, you will know that everything that was done for him was done out of love, kindness, understanding and caring. How many families or dog owners would go more than just that extra mile to create some many paw prints that would remain imprinted in their minds, hearts and body forever?
As Mac regressed and progressed after each surgery, each trip to the vet and when the final realization came that he could no longer walk, hear or move about without help, a decision was made and the family was called together. But, sometimes miracles happen and final words are said, hugs are given to a loved one before they pass and sometimes they wait, hang on until everyone arrives and then they let go. The vet was called, the family members had finally arrived and then Mac took the lead and decided how to create that final paw print taking the decision out of the hands of anyone else but himself. Read his story and then read excerpts from the author’s blog so that you can learn about the Labrador retriever who could never retrieve, the dog that loved people, accepted you for you, endured five leg surgeries, had a love of life and a trust for life and living and would forever warm the hearts of readers forever as the author has kept Mac alive in his novels. Lucky to have Mac for 14 years and memories forever. Written in the first person narrative and told from the heart Paw Prints In My Heart will touch yours when you read it.
Let’s Give this book: FIVE GOLDEN PAW PRINTS: ONE FOR BONNIE, DAPPER, OZZIE, MAC and for all those dogs out there that are loved by families like Andrews.
Fran Lewis: reviewer