Q&A with Jennifer Skiff, Author of "The Divinity of Dogs"Published November 14, 2012
Author and animal advocate Jennifer Skiff is a director of Pilots N Paws in the U.S. and a trustee of the Dogs’ Refuge Home in Australia. Her second book, The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man’s Best Friend (Simon & Shuster, October 23, 2012), is now available. The book is a collection of transformational stories about spiritual experiences between people and pooches.
I'm a dog worshiper. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Buddy, came to me at a very low point. He was a four-pound, four-legged, happy pill—a hairy little son—and the catalyst to my metamorphosis. I was thrilled when Skiff graciously agreed to a one-on-one interview. We had the chance to chat about her new book, miracles, life with dogs, and everything in between.
What inspired you to write The Divinity of Dogs?
I’ve had a dog at every moment of my life. I know the divinity of dogs. I know they bring joy, comfort, love, and forgiveness at all times.
Is this a sequel to your first book, God Stories?
No, that book was sparked by the universal nagging questions people have. Like “Why am I here? Is there more? Does God exist?” I collected stories from people about their most extraordinary experiences and found that a lot of people wrote about their epiphanies—their “Ah ha” moments—with dogs. That told me I wasn’t alone in my thinking and inspired me to ask people about their true-life miracles with dogs.
What types of miracles?
One story is about a man who was in his bedroom about to commit to suicide. His dog came rushing into the room and grabbed his arm, ferociously yanking him toward the front door. The man realized it could be awhile before anybody found his body, or Emma, his Rottweiler. ‘Well, she deserves one last walk,’ he thought and took her outside. She wouldn’t let him go back inside. The dog led him on a three-hour journey during which he realized Emma loved and needed him. He abandoned his decision to kill himself. He chose life.
Wow. That is a touching story. Can you give another example?
There’s a story of a woman whose Chihuahua kept nudging her breast. It was a new behavior and the dog kept doing it to the point where it started to hurt. She went to the doctor for a physical exam. Her doctor couldn’t find anything. But, when she went for a mammogram it turned out she had breast cancer. The cancer was caught at an early and treatable stage.
Who do you see as the audience for your book?
I have over 10,000 Facebook followers on the book’s page, [and] 18 to 25-year olds are my biggest audience.
Why do you think that is?
Did you know that 80 million people in the U.S. have dogs? I’m hoping that this book will serve as an advocate for dogs and their divinity. For those people who sit on the fence and say a dog is just a dog—people that keep them outside on a chain or in a crate—I’m hoping this will help them realize that if they bring their dogs into their inner circle they will see themselves the way their dogs see them. If they do, their trials in life won’t be as difficult.
What did you mean when you said advocate for dogs and their divinity?
I’m an advocate. Don’t chain those dogs. This is a good way to educate people. To say, “You have a gift and it’s outside on that chain. Bring it into your fold and I promise your life will get better.”
Can you talk about one of your miracle stories?
I’ve had two dogs for the past 16 years. Within 24 hours of finishing this book one of my dogs passed away. Two weeks later the other one died. The dogs had stayed with me while I wrote this book. When it was finished they knew it was okay to let go. It’s been a bittersweet ending to finishing the book. A year and a half has passed now. The book just launched and it’s getting an incredible response. At this moment in my life my passion and my work have collided and it’s a beautiful thing.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The Divinity of Dogs Facebook page is very active. I’m going to use the audience there to advocate for animal sterilization and legislation. The sad truth is there aren’t enough homes for animals. I just coined a phrase: “Sneuter.” Men hate the word neuter, so I made it a happier word, trying to make it sound more positive. It is the right thing to do.
Jennifer Skiff has just released the CD: The Divinity of Dogs: Music to Calm Dogs and the People Who Love Them. And, get this! Susan Rockefeller, wife of philanthropist David Rockefeller, Jr., was so impressed with Skiff that she designed a "Divinity Charm." The jewelry piece has four sides. Two sides say “Dog” and the other two say “God.”