Book Review: Two Dogs and a Parrot

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by S. Rufus

Two Dogs and a Parrot
What Our Animal Friends Can Teach Us About Life
By Joan Chittister

Why do we love pets? Because, through them, we “cling to nature in a world made of glass and steel that has divided us from it,” maintains the author of this deceptively simple set of lessons that our animal companions can teach us about living in this crowded world.

A Benedictine nun whose previous books include The Friendship of Women, The Monastery of the Heart, and The Gift of Years, Joan Chittister learned from the bold, brash, Best in Show–beautiful Irish setter Danny that we should embrace our talents, that empathy and sympathy are not synonymous, and that “enjoyment itself is a discipline.” Tentative, traumatized golden retriever Duffy taught Chittister the power of presence, acceptance, tolerance, and of seeing “beauty break out of every living thing”—a practice that can make us “suddenly realize that the beauty we have found is now in us, too.” And a sleek, smart, “Step up!”–squawking parrot named Lady—who gladly chose an ostensibly worthless toilet-paper roll over fancy, pricey toys—proved herself to be a feathered professor of pleasure, adventure, and respect.

Each chapter starts with a candidly rendered scene involving one of these three animals—Duffy’s fascination with an automatic door, for instance; Lady befriending a shy child—then concludes with spiritual insights that shimmer with radiant clarity on the page. If they make you gasp in recognition, nod or laugh or even cry, don’t say you weren’t warned. And if your pets see that happening to you, they’ll never tell. 

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