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This heartwarming story is about eight-year-old Jimmy Longwood, who has fallen in love with a Golden Retriever puppy. When his parents explain that their condo does not allow pets, Jimmy is heartbroken. While skiing in Aspen the entire family is killed in an avalanche. Jimmy goes to heaven and meets an angel who decides to send Jimmy back to earth as the very Golden Retriever he’d wanted for his own and to learn the one lesson all human beings must learn…unconditional love.
The day after Christmas Jimmy was roused early, taken out the front door to potty in the bushes and then given breakfast, all before daylight.
What’s up with these people? Don’t they sleep in? What’s the rush?
“Here you go, Beau. Yum. Doesn’t this smell good?” Robin asked placing a dish of canned dog food in front of him.
Jimmy sniffed the food and jumped back.
They don’t expect me to eat this stuff do they? How about a rasher of that bacon? Or maybe a smidgeon of that hot cinnamon bun?
Jimmy quickly skitted over to the kitchen table where the family was sitting down to breakfast. He licked his mouth.
“Look, Mommy! I think Beau wants some bacon.”
“Oh, Robin, the breeder said not to give a puppy table scraps. It’s bad for them. It could make him throw up.”
Throw up? Throw up? Is she kidding? That barf material in the bowl will make me throw up!
Robin sat down at the table holding his puppy in his lap. “But I can tell he doesn’t like that food. He wouldn’t even sniff it and he should be hungry by now. After all he didn’t eat a bite yesterday.”
Daphne came down the stairs with her rolling suitcase and entered the kitchen. It was obvious to Jimmy that she was going back to New York and very soon. Just thinking about New York Reminded Jimmy of his parents. As his mother’s face flashed across his puppy mind, he felt a pang in his heart. I miss you, Mom.
“He was just getting used to his surroundings, Robin,” Daphne said pouring a cup of coffee and sitting at the table.
Hal nodded. “I agree with you though, Robin. Beau should be hungry by now. You can give him a half a piece of bacon. If he vomits, you clean it up.”
“Hal! I just told Robin not to feed him.”
“Becky, this way they’ll both learn a valuable lesson.”
Robin broke a piece of bacon in half. As hungry as he was, Jimmy remembered his mother, Melanie, telling him that table manners were a most important asset for a child. I need to play this cool. Jimmy sniffed the bacon first.
“What’s he doing? Seeing if it’s poisoned?” Hal laughed.
Jimmy gently took the bacon and chewed it.
“Manners?” Robin’s mother gasped. “Why, I can’t believe I’m seeing what I’m seeing.”
Daphne put her coffee cup down. “He’s a real New Yorker. Through and through,” she smiled smugly.
“Now put him down on the floor, Robin and see if he keeps it down,” Robin’s father said.
“Okay.” Robin gently placed Jimmy on the floor.
Wow! That was great. I bet I can con them out of some sweet roll, too.
Jimmy sat on his back paws quietly huffing, never taking his eyes from the food on the table. Yet never backing away either.
As they ate, all eyes were on Beau.
“See, Mom, he’s not sick at all.”
“I understand, Robin, but you need your nourishment, too. We have a big day today.”
Suddenly, Robin’s shoulders slumped. He lost interest in eating and in watching Beau’s performance.
“I don’t want any more chemotherapy,” Robin said lowly.
“But, Robin. It will save your life. You have to go,” Hal said.
Chemotherapy? Oh, so that’s why he’s bald. Oh, Robin, I was afraid you were that sick. I thought…well, I don’t know what I thought.
Instantly, Jimmy scooted over to Robin’s chair and put his paws on the top of the chair. He whined until Robin picked him up and put him in his lap. Jimmy licked Robin’s hand, hoping the gesture would give him comfort.
“Did you see that, Mommy? It was as if Beau understood what we were saying.”
“It’s not the words he understands, Robin. It’s our voices. All our voices become concerned and sad when we talk about the cancer.”
Robin petted Beau.
Jimmy shook his head. I understood the words, Robin! I’m not like other dogs. I’m a kid caught in a puppy’s suit, that’s all. I’m here because they wouldn’t let me die yet.
“Look, he’s saying ‘no’,” Robin said excitedly. “I really think he understands me.”
Jimmy leapt up and licked Robin’s face.
“You see that! He does understand words.”
“Robin, there’s no such thing as a dog understanding human language other than a few command words.”
Daphne held up her finger. “That’s not exactly true, Becky. Mr. Lenza, the man who sold me Beau, said that Goldens understand 750 words nearly as much as a German Shepherd who only know twenty more.”
“Yes,” Hal sighed, “ well, that may be true. But that doesn’t mean they understand them all strung together in sentences and paragraphs.”
“Well, Beau does. He’s just smarter than the average Golden is all.” Robin picked him up and held him close so that he could peer into the puppy’s eyes.
“Hal, I saw on the Pet Psychic program on the Animal Channel
that…” Daphne began.
Hal held up his hand. “Please, Daphne, I don’t need any of your metaphysical mumbo jumbo. Not today.”
“Sorry. It’s Christmas. I promised Becky I’d spare you.”
Robin looked at Beau. “I can see it in his soul, Daddy. Beau is special.” He hugged his pet. “You’ll see.”
We all have that go-to author that no matter what they write it will be good. Ms. Lanigan is that writer for me. I choose this book because it had no romance in it and I was intrigued. Plus, it featured a dog and child. I’m a sucker for both. What really caught me by surprise was how much I needed this book right now.
I read this book over the Thanksgiving holiday and it gave me a perspective that I needed and shared with my son. She reminded me that unconditional love is given, not earned. And not just from our pets either. We tend to just think we can not have unconditional love with our family or friends; that it is just reserved for our pets. Ms. Lanigan proves that you can. Can we not like something that they have done? Sure. But to unlove someone? I don’t think that’s possible.
Beau/Jimmy is a trip. He provides us with the humor, insight and perspective throughout the book. His parents are the typical overworked and don’t have a lot of time to spare for Jimmy and it showed. Jimmy/Beau’s angel is good, too. He provides Jimmy the guiding hand that is needed.
Overall, I loved this book. I think everyone should read it and discuss it with their family, friends, church group, etc. Ms. Lanigan could re-write the phone book and I would read it. Seriously. She is that good.
About the Author
Catherine Lanigan is the international bestselling and award-winning author of over forty-five published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile. Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into over twenty-four languages. Lanigan was tasked by the NotMYkid foundation to pen a collection of compelling and informative true stories of teen addicts. Ms. Lanigan’s SHORES OF INDIAN LAKE series for HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING includes LOVE SHADOWS, HEART’S DESIRE , A FINE YEAR FOR LOVE, KATIA’S PROMISE, FEAR OF FALLING, SOPHIE’S PATH, PROTECTING THE SINGLE MOM, FAMILY OF HIS OWN, HIS BABY DILEMMA, RESCUED BY THE FIREFIGHTER and MY RACING HEART (2019).
Ms. Lanigan is a frequent speaker at literary functions and book conventions as well as inspiring audiences with her real stories of angelic intervention from her Angel Tales series of books. She is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence and abuse and was honored by The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Washington, D.C. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs including “Coast to Coast” and on television interview and talk show programs as well as blogs, podcasts and online radio interview programs. She writes a monthly blog for Heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.com.
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