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Book Review: Dobie the Canine Saint – A Spiritual Love Story by Dr. Paul Greenbaum

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When Paul Greenbaum goes to Vermont to meet his friend Tom for a camping trip in August of 1985, he has no idea that a week later he’ll be driving home with Vicious, a very disturbed Doberman/Rottweiler puppy, in the back seat. In Dobie the Canine Saint – A Spiritual Love Story, Greenbaum tells about the fourteen years he and Vicious (soon renamed Dobie) spend together.

Greenbaum and Dobie see each other through a potentially deadly mountain hike, a move across the country, Greenbaum’s marriage, Dobie’s near-death experiences and more. Throughout that time their love and commitment to each other grow so that when Dobie dies in December of 1999, Greenbaum is convinced Dobie was really a saint sent to him by the Great Spirit according to the Great Plan.

Greenbaum’s writing style is smooth and easy to read (the 138-page book can be read in a few hours). His sensitivity, compassion and ability to gain insights from life experiences make the telling more than simply a rehashing of events. He sees nature and its wild places with an artist’s eye and describes them with a poet’s pen.

The book is slim and pleasingly designed. Block paragraphs on matte cream-colored stock with lots of white space invite the eye. Interspersed throughout are photographs of Dobie, and though some are not the greatest quality, they help us get the picture.

There is a significant spiritual aspect to this book. In the prologue, Greenbaum introduces us to an inner spiritual teacher who acts as his personal guide. This guide appears often and gives him advice and interpretation about what is happening between Dobie and himself. At one point he describes Dobie as having an expanded consciousness, working off her karma and creating a new purpose for herself as well.

The spiritual worldview that comes through is New Age (spirit guides, a “special master who cares for all animals,” karma, and reincarnation). Because I don’t personally subscribe to or endorse this belief system, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the book. I will say, though, that the things Greenbaum learns about unconditional and sacrificial love and their importance in all our relationships are echoed by most creeds.

All in all, Dobie the Canine Saint is a beautifully told story of the love between a man and a dog. The description of the bond between these two will resonate with dog lovers of all ages everywhere.

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About Violet Nesdoly