A good friend of mine, who died several years ago from diabetes-related complications, once said to me, "Show me a dog lover, and I'll show you a good person." I'm sure there are many exceptions to this adage, but the principle it expresses couldn't be more applicable to my close friend Mark Levin, whose new book, "Rescuing Sprite," makes poignantly clear.
Mark was about to write a completely different book when the death of his dog, Sprite, turned his world upside down. Mark was devastated by Sprite's death and was forced to switch gears.
He said, "You'll probably think I'm crazy, but I feel compelled to write a book about Sprite now and need to put the other book on hold."
At first, I was stunned because I believed his other book needed to be written. I also couldn't imagine how he could fill a book's worth of pages with stories about a dog -- no matter how much I shared his love for canines.
It didn't take more than a few conversations with Mark to realize how important it was that he write this book, and I became immediately enthusiastic about the project. Given the depth and range of Mark's feelings and his immense popularity with his radio audience, I knew the book would be a huge success. Little did I know at the time just how powerful it would be.
The book is deeply moving on a number of levels and will enrich the lives of all who read it. Every dog lover in the world should have a copy of it. That said, I must tell you that the book is about so much more than one man's loving relationship with his dogs. Don't get me wrong. It's the best pet book I've ever read. But its themes are transcendent.
It is a primarily a love story between man and dog, but also between husband and wife, parents and children, family and neighbors, dog owners and caregivers, people and their communities, and dogs and other dogs in the family. It contains more life lessons in each chapter than any handful of similar books.
As you prepare to read it, understand that it will tap into your deepest emotions, stir your soul and provoke thoughtful reflection about the things -- and beings -- that matter most.
It is a story about joy and suffering, enrichment and loss, bewilderment and thanksgiving and selfless love. It is about affection, loyalty, empathy, companionship, intense reflection, self-doubt, tormenting guilt and finding peace with life's most difficult and agonizing experiences and decisions.