The Book

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Can a dog “save” a person? This one did.

The upcoming e-book “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog” tells the heartwarming story of how a remarkable rescue dog changed a first-time dog “parent’s” life in profound ways. It is also the story of how this man and his “miracle” dog helped each other to begin healing from their severe individual traumas, and forge a spiritual partnership that just entered its tenth year.

The story is told by Jon Sutz, a multimedia designer, writer and creative consultant. In deep grief after 9/11 and a string of recent personal tragedies – which, together, triggered partially-hidden memories of childhood traumas – Jon decided to begin searching for the “right” first dog for him. In early 2002 Shayna and her twin sister were separated from their parents as babies, and trapped in a storm drain for three days before rescuers found them.

After a three-month search, Jon found Shayna at an SPCA in March 2002, and adopted her – even though she didn’t look at all like what he (thought he) was looking for. He recalls, “I finally felt the connection I had been waiting and praying for.”

Shayna at 12 weeks, 4/7/02

Like many other first-time dog “parents,” Jon had little idea of what lay in store for him – particularly in the context of raising an extraordinarily-intelligent Border CollieSiberian Husky mix like Shayna. Their difficulties were dramatically intensified when Jon was in an accident shortly after adopting Shayna that left him with a partially-disabling neuromuscular disorder, chronic pain and fatigue, and the ability to work on only an intermittent, part-time basis. He rapidly went from living in relative comfort to bankruptcy, and struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

Jon describes how, by becoming a first-time “dog dad,” especially under such trying circumstances, he discovered strengths and virtues in himself that he didn’t know he possessed. “I wasn’t cut out to be a ‘dad’ of any kind – or so I thought,” he reflects. “But I discovered that by learning to become an effective ‘dad’ to an extremely-intelligent, emotionally-sensitive creature who happens to speak another language, I began to grow, and mature. And by fulfilling the commitments I made to her – to love her, help her to thrive, and protect and provide for her – I felt my soul beginning to heal, and starting to unshackle itself from the pain, shame and humiliation that defined my childhood.”

Along with its companion website, which is filled with pictures and videos, this e-book tells the story of how, through training and nurturing Shayna’s amazing brainpower, she developed an array of remarkable skills, including:

  • Memorizing the names of more than 30 toys, being able to retrieve and put them in assigned receptacles, by name, and even using pictorial flash cards.
  • Understanding the concept of numbers – specifically, the ability to retrieve and put away one or two tennis balls at a time, depending on the command.

Here is an early video of Shayna, when she was six months old, doing her “frisbee skiing”:

This e-book is also:

  • A cautionary tale of what can happen when two emotionally-troubled people get married for convenience, then have children.
  • A testament to the lifelong impact that severe childhood traumas can have on the victim, if they are not addressed and resolved soon after they are experienced.
  • A fascinating accounting of the good that can happen when one listens to his/her inner “voice,” or conscience.
  • A moving depiction of the healing power that the “right” first dog can have on a troubled individual’s life.
  • A touching tribute to Shayna, Jon’s “miracle dog,” whom he credits with helping to keep him motivated and optimistic during some of the darkest periods of his life.

Ultimately, Jon hopes that his e-book will help inspire others who’ve thought about adopting a dog – especially those who are struggling to overcome recent or distant traumas, and are apprehensive about such a responsibility – to take the plunge. “There are no guarantees,” says Jon. “But if you approach the adoption process with honesty, care and patience, you may end up with your own ‘miracle dog,’ who changes your life. The only way to know is to try.”

The story concludes with twelve of the crucially-important “life lessons” that Jon has learned during the first ten years of his journey, regarding everything from time management and conscious living, to strategies for effective dog “parenting.” And as a special bonus, Shayna also adds (through “woof-recognition technology!”) four things that she wants current and aspiring dog “parents” to be aware of, to truly honor and nurture their canine relationships.

Read the Introduction to “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog” here.

Read a sample “life lesson” here.

To learn more about the book, email jonsutz (at) yahoo (dot) com, or call (434) 825-8428.



Note: This document can be downloaded as a one-page PDF here.