Heartfelt and Humorous – A Book to Share

untitledTitle: Tricks My Dog Taught Me: About Life, Love, and God

Author: Phil Callaway

Publishing House/Publication Date: Harvest House/2015

Genres: Christian Living; Humor; Inspirational Non-Fiction; Animal Anecdotes

Number of Pages: 208

You should read this book if… You love to discover new ways of finding messages from God in ordinary, everyday occurrences. Although a dog in your life is not necessary to finding truth and insight from this book, your enjoyment while reading it will be multiplied tenfold if a dog of any size, breed, or color has ever been a part of your life!

Theme and Message: Interestingly, this seemingly lighthearted book contains themes on multiple layers. On the top, of course, are the significant lessons we can learn by observing the love-oriented attitudes of our canine companions. Going a littler deeper, though, we realize that God has placed countless circumstances in our lives each and every day that can teach us about the truly valuable elements of life. With the tales of one special little dog as the context, Phil Callaway teaches us that secrets are just waiting to be discovered, and mysteries are just waiting to be unlocked – and each one reveals the omniscience of God in the commonplace of life.

Writing Style and Voice: Phil Callaway is an extremely gifted writer. In many instances, he is able to blend humor, despair, and inspiration into one short anecdote, causing readers to become fully engaged every time. Additionally, Phil is not afraid to share very personal thoughts and emotions, to introspect in ways that show vulnerability and imperfection, and to help his readers heal by looking inside themselves. Through his stories of everyday experiences, it is easily apparent that humor and insight can be found just about anywhere.

Structure and Organization: Each short chapter within the book is a distinct and separate anecdote, complete with plot, backstory, and mini-moral. In a roundabout way, however, the chapters do build on each other and move sequentially through the life of little Mojo and her family, meaning that the book is best read in the usual way – from beginning to end.   One more special feature of the book is the unique and usually humorous title of each chapter, named after the ‘trick’ or life lesson in focus.

Questionable Content: Very little could be considered offensive in this delightful little book. Apart from the occasional comment that would have been better left out, for the most part this book excels at fun but thought-provoking material that is both honest and honorable.

Conclusion: If you enjoy stories that will tug at your heartstrings, whisper priceless bits of wisdom on every page, and regularly cause you to laugh out loud while sharing favorite sections with as many people as are willing to listen, I can assure you… this is the book for you! And if you happen to love dogs, well, I’m really not sure what more I can say. Except, what are you waiting for? Drive to your nearest bookstore and find a copy of this book without delay!

This book was provided courtesy of Harvest House Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.


To learn more about Phil Callaway and his humorous, inspirational writing and speaking, please visit his website here.

Check out this awesome clip from 100 Huntley Street with guest Phil Callaway, as he discusses his newest book…  Tricks My Dog Taught Me!


Also, be sure to read this delightful interview published on the Harvest House blog as Phil answers a few questions about his book…

How a Dog Transformed a Family: An Interview with Phil Callaway

Posted on May 21, 2015   Topic : Inspirational/Devotional, Men’s Christian Living,
We teach dogs to fetch and roll over…but dogs can teach us some even greater tricks for life. Discover what one little dog named Mojo taught her family in this fun and insightful interview with bestselling author Phil Callaway. (You’ll also learn what Phil thinks about whether or not dogs go to heaven!)

* * *

You say Tricks My Dog Taught Me is the story of how a dog changed a family. How?

Phil Callaway: An old preacher said, “If you want to learn more about God, get a dog.” So we did.

Mojo cost us $300 (or $100 per brain cell). She’s been worth every penny. Our family was a mess when she came along. This dog was better than a dozen psychiatrists. And cheaper.

What did she teach you?

Phil: To attack each day with expectancy. That there’s a time to go ahead and howl. To laugh. I have yet to meet a couple whose marriage is in trouble who say, “We just laugh too much together.” When my parents finally entered a nursing home and we brought the dog to visit, the joy level in that place went through the roof.

You say your dog taught you about God. Can you explain that idea?

Phil: This little critter is about 10 pounds. My friend has an 80-pound dog. When he brought that monster by our house, our dog literally stood between me and this huge dog and wouldn’t let it near me. A dog is the only animal that will give its life to save a member of another species.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.” At the heart of the gospel is the God who would rather die than live without us. I’ve seen this reflected in my dog.

What is the most common question people ask you about dogs?

Phil: “Do dogs go to heaven?” Even older people ask this. My daughter Rachael once asked me this. I’m no theologian, but I said, “Why not? God can raise up trees and grass—why not my dog?”

A child asked this of Billy Graham. He said, “If it would make her any happier, then her dog will be there.” I agree.

The Bible tells us that animals will be part of the new heaven and new earth. Will they include the exact same dogs we knew and loved? I don’t know. But God isn’t about to deprive us of what he delighted us with on earth. God loves us and is preparing a place for us that will be out of this world.

Your dog is 15. Is she still teaching you?

Phil: Oh yeah. An old dog teaches us that you’re never too old to sniff out new possibilities. That you can grow old without growing ugly.

When we leave our house and head north for a walk she lags behind, but the moment we turn around something happens. She tugs at the leash, picks up speed, longing for home. That’s been a huge lesson for me amid all the difficult circumstances of life, to simply have a longing for home.

When this dog arrived I was nursing bitterness, depression, fear, and worry. Tricks My Dog Taught Me is the story of how God used a little dog to change a family in remarkable ways.

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