Unique Nonprofit Shares the Healing Power of the Paw by Shannon Kopp

With Adopt a Shelter Dog Month just underway, a unique nonprofit organization, SoulPaws Recovery Project, was thrilled to share it’s message about the healing power of the paw in PEOPLE Magazine! 

Logo Courtesy of Shannon Kopp

SoulPaws utilizes rescue dogs and therapy animals (dogs, puppies, miniature horses, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, and more) to help women overcome food and body issues. The nonprofit provides free online and in-person animal-assisted therapy workshops—designed to combat the shame and secrecy so inherent in eating disorders. Live workshops are held monthly by trained facilitators, who are licensed therapists, social workers, or marriage and family therapist interns. Journaling, meditation, sharing on recovery oriented topics, and one-on-one time with the animals are a part of each workshop experience.

Studies show that time spent with animals not only improves our physical health, but our mental and emotional well-being. “The lack of judgment, lack of expectations, nonverbal interaction, sensory engagement through touch, evident behavior of the animal, and restorative/fun experience are elements that have made the human-animal interaction qualitatively different from human interactions,” says SoulPaws Executive Board Member, Dr. Patricia Flaherty Fischette, Ph.D.

soulpaws participant and therapy dog. Photo Courtesy of Shannon Kopp

SoulPaws Founder, Shannon Kopp, shared with PEOPLE: “Eating disorders are often described as a disease of disconnection. The goal of SoulPaws is to not only help the participants connect with animals and each other, but to experience freedom from their eating disorder and a reunion with their true, authentic selves.”
In late November, SoulPaws will be teaming up with Recovery Warriors to offer their biggest online animal-assisted therapy workshop yet at the FoodBodyLove Rally.
To learn more about SoulPaws, visit www.soulpawsrecovery.org.

Soulpaws therapy dog photo courtesy of Shannon Kopp

About SoulPaws: SoulPaws, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, offers unique and evidence-based animal-assisted therapy experiences designed for people impacted by mental health issues. With every workshop, SoulPaws aims to decrease shame, increase compassion, and inspire courage. Offered in-person and online, our workshops are led by SoulPaws trained facilitators. SoulPaws utilizes a variety of therapy animals, including dogs, miniature horses, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, and more. In simply being themselves, SoulPaws therapy animals serve as guides to compassion, mindfulness, and emotional vulnerability.

Book Review:Babette’s Pack by Kathryn Walter

Novel illustrates how lap dogs could actually save lives

From the publisher: According to HelpGuide.org pets can positively affect their owner’s mood, depression, blood pressure and overall health.

babette's pack

Aiming to raise awareness of this type of therapy, author Kathryn Walter shares a fictional story based on true medical cases in “Babette’s Pack.” Following the spunky Shih Tzu Babette after she is saved from animal abuse, this heartwarming tale illustrates how a family can become a pack.”

“Meet Babette. A beloved family dog who is part guardian angel and part amazing psychic who guides her “pack” (family) through the pitfalls of life with courage and self-sacrifice. This book is one whose time has come as Babette demonstrates newly proven canine abilities like predicting earthquakes, forecasting seizures, heralding low blood sugar levels, and diagnosing breast cancer. Babette joins the ranks of therapy/service dogs who serve their humans as seizure response dogs, dogs who are trained to monitor blood sugar levels and those that calm anxiety to promote wellness and healing. While these remarkable abilities are now well documented, Babette goes a step or two further and is possessed of some almost magical powers. Barbette’s Pack puts committed marriage, mother hood, therapy dogs, and patriotism back on the map. It is a true family book that is hilarious, scary, and inspirational –dedicated to dog lovers everywhere.” 

For the vast majority of this book the above is true. I was engrossed by the stories (albeit fictional), of Babette’s remarkable skills.  Author Kathryn Walter was inspired to write this book from her time spent as a physician’s assistant and as an RN.

Babette is delightful, a charmer, the book overall is engrossing, (I read it in one evening). I found it to be deeply touching, informative, with strong messages pertaining to family, marriage and spirituality.


I am not one that will give a book away at all in a review, as a result, writing this one is tough for me.

When I reached the Chapter XV,  I honestly felt as if I was reading an entirely different book than I had been reading the prior 14 chapters. It troubled me  and upset me so much that I could barely sleep. It was as if the book took a sharp turn, and one that I didn’t enjoy.

I believe it was Walter’s intent to shock, and she did. Some might view that has a highly successful ending, for me? Not so much.

As I said, I don’t want to ruin it for you, you may have a totally different opinion, I suggest you purchase the book and decide for yourself.  It is available on xlibris, amazon and B&N.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Kathryn Walter holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration, a bachelor’s degree in nursing and is a certified physician assistant. Over the past 25 years Kathryn was the director of a university student health center, has practiced family medicine as a licensed physician assistant, and is now practicing pediatric medicine for a primary school district. She currently lives in Chino Hills, CA with her beloved husband, daughter and her two adorable Shih Tzu dogs, Esmeralda and the star of the book, Babette.

In full disclosure, I was not compensated for this review. I was sent a copy of Babette’s Pack in exchange for an honest review.


Winner! Lola Goes To Work:A Nine-to-Five Therapy Dog by Marcia Goldman

Thanks so much to all who entered my give-away!   Mom and I loved reading your comments about who would be the lucky recipient of this book!

lola goes to work

Mom and I entered all the entries on to www.random.org and we have our winner(s)!!!

The lucky winners are:






Christine, please email your complete mailing address to my Mom at:

cgittleman at mi dot rr dot com


Barks and licks and love,


Book Review and Give-Away:Lola Goes to Work: A Nine-to-Five Therapy Dog- by Marcia Goldman

lola goes to work

“The BEST things DO come in SMALL packages” is what first came to mind when I first laid eyes on the incredible photos of Lola, the five-pound Yorkshire Terrier star of the adorable book for children, Lola Goes to Work:A Nine-to-Five Therapy Dog by Marcia Goldman.

Traditionally, therapy dogs are larger dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, (yes, little dogs are therapy dogs too, but they aren’t as common as larger therapy dogs),  but Lola dreamed of helping others. She was determined to prove to the naysayers that she wasn’t  “too small” to become a therapy dog, so off to school she went!

Children can follow Lola’s journey of becoming a therapy dog, through brilliant and simply endearing photos.  They will also learn through the barks words of Lola herself, that even if you are small, you can still accomplish BIG things with patience, confidence and a lot of hard work! They will also learn about the joy that comes back  to them by showing kindness and compassion to others.

Lola Goes to Work is ideal for teachers and parents. There is a Teacher Page in the back which lists discussion topics such as:

Focus Wordswhere children are encouraged to discuss the meaning of words: Happy, Kind, Work, Friends.

There are questions that can teachers and parents can ask their children such as:

What does Lola do to make the people she visits feel better?

What could you do to make somebody who was sad feel better?

There are also Activities such as:

drawing a picture of work that a child wants to do when he/she grows up

Lola Goes to Work is “small” (a super-fast picture-book read), but don’t let the size deter you from purchasing this gem. Remember that often, “the best things come in small packages.”

Marcia and Lola, photo courtesy of Marcia Goldman

Marcia and Lola, photo courtesy of Marcia Goldman

ABOUT LOLA: Lola is a five-pound Yorkshire Terrier who lives in California with her adoring owners. She is a proud certified therapy dog who makes weekly visits to elder care centers, bookstores, and classrooms.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marcia Goldman has her Masters Degree in Special Education and has spent the last 25 years focusing on providing therapeutic-based programs for children with autism and their families.


The publisher has generously offered one of our readers living in the U.S. or Canada (unfortunately due to shipping costs, the publisher cannot include our International readers and we are sorry!) the chance to win this darling book  (a $16.99 value)

TO ENTER: you must be 18 or over. Just leave a comment telling me who will be enjoying this book!

The give-away is open now and will close on Wednesday, October 23rd at 5pm. The winner will be selected by www.random.org and announced on Thursday, October 24th.

Good Luck!


I was sent a copy of Lola Goes to Work A Nine-To-Five Therapy Dog to review and give my honest opinion. I was not compensated for this review.




Book Review: “Dogs Of Courage” by Lisa Rogak

I was honored to be given the opportunity to review Dogs Of Courage by Lisa Rogak.

Dogs of Courage is “the heroism and heart of working dogs around the world.”

Prior to reading this information packed book I was under the mistaken assumption that only certain breeds with certain “jobs” could be considered to be “dogs of courage.” I never suspected that a Chihuahua, or for that matter a Sheltie, would be a dog that could ever  earn the title of  Dogs Of Courage.  That mistaken thought reveals the cat lover in me, and shows just how much learning that I need to do to truly better  understand DOGS. Of course I LOVE dogs but I do admit that I am far less well versed about all things dog, than I am about all things CAT.

Photo Courtesy of macmillan

Photo Courtesy of macmillan

I never realized until reading  Dogs Of Courage, that EVERY dog has the potential of being a “dog of courage” regardless of their breed, size or particular talent.

From Dogs Of Courage: While we smile (and cry) when we hear stories on the news about courageous dogs, we rarely learn “Why dogs go out of their way to help us.” and “how do they get that way? How are dogs able to perform tasks and work in tandem with the humans who are their partners?” Dogs of Courage answers those questions and many more.

What Is a Dog of Courage?

It could be your next door neighbor’s dog, it could be a dog that works with police or fire, a dog trained as a therapy dog in a nursing home or hospital, a dog that works in a prison, even a movie star dog such as Lassie.  A “dog of courage” can have any one of a number of jobs that you will delight in reading about in full detail in this marvelous book.

Did you know?

  • That the smallest police dog in the world is an 8 lb Chihuahua named Midge who hails from Geauga County, Ohio?  Midge has appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets.
  • That many arson investigators and insurance companies think that Labrador retrievers are the best dogs for arson work?
  • That Newfoundlands are considered to be the best breed for water work?
  • That a Collie named “Kira” works as a psychiatric service dog?

Being from Michigan, I was particularly intrigued reading about a Golden Retriever named Landon who was brought into a family to help their 10-year-old autistic son, David.  Landon was acquired from Paws with a Cause, a nonprofit organization in Wayland, Michigan that trains assistance dogs to help people with disabilities. Landon ended up helping David with his communication skills and enabled him to open up more. Landon also helped David be better able to fall asleep at night just by being by his side.

I urge you to buy this wonderful book. If you are an educator, this would be a marvelous book to use as a learning tool in the classroom to teach students about how important dogs are in our lives, not just as our trusted and playful companions, but to enable students to learn about  the many jobs that a dog may have and how important they are in helping us to better function in our  daily existence.

From the publisher St.Martin’s Press: Dogs of Courage reveals the heartwarming and awe-inspiring stories of these hard-working dogs, from the training they receive to the ways we honor their sacrifices and reward their years of service.  Dogs Of Courage is an incredible story of the vital role that dogs play as working heroes, it is a must-read for animal-lovers everywhere.

About the Author:

Lisa Rogak is the author of The Dogs Of War: The Courage, Love and Loyalty of Military Working Dogs, the Edgar-and Anthony-nominated Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King, A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein,  and And Nothing But the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert. She is also editor of the New York Times-bestselling Barack Obama in His Own Words.

ISBN: 1-250-02176-6