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SIT, STAY, HEAL by Renee Alsarraf


What Dogs Can Teach Us About Living Well

by Renee Alsarraf

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-063-21522-1
Publisher: HarperOne

A veterinary oncologist explores how caring for cancer-stricken animals helped illuminate her own private war with metastatic cancer.

“People always ask me, ‘How can you do what you do?’ They think cancer in animals is too sad to be a full-time job,” writes Alsarraf. “They are surprised to hear me say I experience much more happiness than sadness….I try to give pet parents realistic hope, another summer or perhaps a few years of good quality time. It is an emotionally draining profession, yet it fills me right back up.” One of the author’s stories involves Daisy, a happy-go-lucky, treat-seeking cocker spaniel with lymphoma. Daisy, who went on to live into old age, reiterated the lesson that pets diagnosed with life-threatening disease could still live happily and that humans were the ones who immersed themselves in self-defeating worry about the what ifs they could not control. As she observed Daisy’s devoted family, which also includes an adopted special needs daughter who is unable to speak or eat by mouth, Alsarraf also realized that concerns like losing her hair from chemotherapy were trivial by comparison. Among the more poignant accounts is that of the author’s own dog, Newton, a “mentally challenged” boxer who “provides unconditional love for me and my family.” Regardless of the toll that cancer treatments took on Alsarraf’s body, Newton loved her without judgment. The unexpected—and devastating—discovery that Newton had lymphoma unexpectedly brought her into even closer contact with the mortality she had been fighting against. Rather than impose her desire to beat cancer on Newton’s situation, the author opted to make her dog’s remaining days comfortable rather than increase his time through treatments that might bring him even greater pain. In this wise, often moving narrative, Alsarraf offers useful insight into the meaning of health, wellness, and good living through uplifting stories of animal and human healing.

A warmly candid book for dog lovers and anyone affected by cancer.