Sit Stay Heal!
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About the Book
Rowdy, reckless Seamus is the last dog you'd find in a training field. Instead of obediently retrieving, he stubbornly follows his heart, wherever it may lead.
Mel Miskimen's heart is heavy. Her mom, the family rock, the provider of apple pies and stubborn fan of Brett Favre, just died. Even more, her curmudgeon of a father isn't really coping. How can Mel reconnect with an old man more interested in field dog training than discussing his feelings?
Enter Seamus. The hapless black lab throws their grief into joyful disarray. Mel encourages her dad to mold Seamus into a champion retriever.. But as the seasons change, and memories follow, Mel realizes she must face her own fears, and that the road to Seamus's field trials might just heal them all.
At turns hilarious and heart breaking, Sit Stay Heal will touch the souls of dog lovers everything, and speak to anyone seeking a way to connect with those they've lost.
From the Author
My parents had known each other since they were 12, went to high school together, got engaged then married when they were just 21. They had known each other for close to 70 years, and when my mother unexpectedly died, my father was lost. He needed a project to help him wade through the muddy waters of grief. I needed something to keep me afloat. Enter my 7 year old underachieving labrador, Seamus.
Dad was a hunter. An expert when it came to training retrievers to fetch felled fowl. My dog, however was good at getting the newspaper, balancing a biscuit on his nose and keeping me warm on the sofa. Could my father help me train Seamus to be a ‘real’ dog? Over the year after my mother died, he and I (and dog) took to the muddy fields every Wednesday morning. I learned the finer points of being in command, something I wasn’t really keen on, and underneath my father’s gruff and rough outer layer, was a soft and chewy center.
We needed a goal. Something to aim for. I don’t hunt . . . so . . . what then? Vindication for an embarrassing appearance at a Fastest Retriever Contest Seamus and I entered when he was a yearling and I was . . . inept? Yes! I had brought shame upon the family when Seamus and I were kicked out of a competition. He went rogue. I went comic relief. The sting of that moment lingered. I wanted a do-over, no . . . I needed a do-over. With the help of my father (fluent in retriever) Seamus and I entered the contest. The outcome? Well, you have to read the book!
Writing it was difficult – all those feelings of sadness came bubbling back to the surface just when I thought I was done with grieving. I miss my mother. Not the frail, wasting-away version of her, but the funny, quirky her. We are getting used to the new normal – life without mother. Life with a better behaved dog. Life with a father who never called me on the phone just to chat and now calls me and talks for 12 minutes!
About the reader:
We all grieve. There are parts of the process that are absurd and funny, so when I wrote about my experience, I had to include those parts, like . . . when the funeral director showed up to collect my mother’s body and he had 2 black eyes and an ‘x’ shaped bandage in the middle of his forehead. You’d have know my mother to understand why that was funny. She would always describe people like this: “You remember Alice? She has that hump?” or “Frank . . . he’s the one with the weird ear.” I could just hear her, “. . . and the funeral director had TWO BLACK EYES!”
Humor is a coping mechanism. It’s how I get through life. Read this book and laugh, and weep. It’s the human condition.
Her book, Sit. Stay. Heal: How An Underachieving Labrador Won Our Hearts and Brought Us Together, (Sourcebooks 2016) is available at Boswell Books, select Target stores, Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobel.com. It was called a ‘must read,’ by Modern Dog magazine. The book will be featured on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter a Day program in May of 2017.
She lives in Milwaukee with her husband Mark and dog Seamus in their 130 year old, drafty, empty nest they have been in the process of restoring for over 33 years. Of course, she’s writing a book about it. You can find her website: www.melmiskimen.com and follow her on Twitter: @mmiskimen.