Very few human relationships are as free of sorrow, self-interest, and conflicts as the relationship we establish with our pets, especially dogs. “Happiness is a warm puppy”. How not to agree with Charles Schultz, the creator of the iconic human-like beagle, Snoopy? A good dog can be the most decent leaving creature you’ll ever meet in this world, an unblemished little soul that with his unbridled exuberance and joyful intelligence will remind you of what the world should be like: a place of wonder and innocence with so much to enjoy, from the simple act of chasing a ball to the primal instinct to cherish and protect our loved ones.
Think of a beagle, for instance: he doesn’t get to weigh more than thirty pounds and won’t live longer than fifteen years. Just a little creature in size and lifespan, but larger-than-life in all the other things that matter. Friendly, trusting, people-pleasing , his breed is highly sought-after by the research industry. There is no room for hate and vanity in his world. In the face of cruelty and suffering, a beagle will be capable of a graceful acceptance that is not common among humans, except for kids. He will love you with unconditional tenderness and self-giving honesty. No ulterior motives. No mind-games. Some of us will gladly take a shredded rug and scratched furniture any day of our lives if that is the price to pay for the companionship we receive from a puppy. With that joy, alas, comes the painful awareness that our life-journey with a furry friend is going to be a short-lived one.
Having already lost two beagles, and with her life in a state of disarray, nothing was more further from Teresa Rhyne‘s mind than getting a new dog. But when a shelter called to let her know about a beagle ready for adoption, she couldn’t help falling in love again: “My heart may have hardened in many places, but the spot for dogs remained soft.”
The arrival of Seamus in her life marked the beginning of a much needed personal reinvention – new dog, new boyfriend, new home, and even a new job. This new picture-perfect life, though, had a few curveballs in store for the Californian attorney. Almost simultaneously, Teresa and Seamus were diagnosed with cancer. Their shared journey to recovery was recorded by Teresa Rhyne in a memoir (The Dog Lived And So Will I, Sourcebooks, 2012) that instantly climbed to the top of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling lists. At once poignant, uplifting, and hilarious, Teresa’s heartwarming story reminds us that dogs are among the most powerful healers and that they can teach us how to live with grace and humor, even in the midst of the most unforgiving trials: “We rescue dogs and bring them into our lives…and often they rescue us in return.”
Theresa and her vivacious beagle survived cancer once, but Seamus had yet to see the end of his hurdles. In her new memoir, The Dogs Were Rescued And So Was I (Sourcebooks, October 7, 2014), the dog-loving, pessimist-turned-reluctant-optimist lawyer chronicles the massive lifestyle shift she embarked on after her dog was once again diagnosed with a malignant tumor. Devastated by the news, Teresa decided to embrace a more animal-friendly approach and healthier eating habits not only for her beagle, but also for the sake of her entire family. As she searched for a more compassionate way of life through veganism and plant-based diets, Rhyne found out that Seamus was not the only dog in need of help: when she encountered two other beagles in distress, including one rescued from animal testing, she turned her life upside down in order to save them. Opening her eyes to animal cruelty (use of animal testing in cosmetics and production of cleaning supplies) was for Rhyne the best medicine of all.
Sales of the print edition of The Dogs Were Rescued And So Was I through October 31 will result in a donation to the Beagle Freedom Project, a mission aiming to rescue beagles used in animal experimentation and research laboratories. A service of Animal Rescue, Media & Education, the Beagle Freedom Project was founded in 2010 by animal rights attorney and international speaker Shannon Keith. Her organization works directly with universities and other research facilities to remove and transport beagles from labs to loving homes, giving them a chance at freedom through temporary care or adoption.
Teresa Rhyne is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a cancer survivor, a lawyer, an animal lover, a vegan, and a motivational speaker. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer eleven months after opening her own law office, she realized she was prepared for the challenge: her beagle had walked her through it three years earlier when he was diagnosed with cancer and given less than a year to live. Everything she needed to know to survive adversity, she learned from her beagle. Visit her website for more details about her books and appearances.