For awhile now, you've been thinking about the pitter-patter of little feet.
You've wondered what it would be like to have a baby in the house again. Those big, round eyes. That cute little nose. Tiny little ears and sharp chewing teeth, with the softest baby fur and a tail that's always happy to see you. Yep, it's time to adopt a new dog, for sure.
But a puppy? Maybe, maybe not. After reading "Tea and Dog Biscuits" by Barrie Hawkins, you might consider the pitter-patter of slightly larger feet.
Barrie Hawkins loved his wife Dorothy and, nearing their wedding anniversary, he couldn't imagine life without her -- especially as she was wheeled into surgery. Calmly sensing his fears, Dorothy gave him a distraction: when she was well and back home at their cottage in sleepy Little Wilberry, England, they would foster unwanted German shepherds.
Years ago, the Hawkinses had a German shepherd. Elsa was a once-in-a-lifetime dog whose intelligence and devotion made the Hawkinses into lifetime fans. When she died at age 14, they were naturally distraught. What better idea was there than to devote themselves to caring for castoff relatives of their beloved Elsa?
Word spread quickly -- so quickly that Dorothy was barely out of surgery when Barrie got a phone call. A homeless man could no longer care for his pup, and the dog was in need of a foster home. Could the Hawkinses take Monty as soon as possible?
Shortly after Monty arrived, Pearl, the companion of a terminally ill woman, joined the household. Then Claude came, followed by brother-and-sister refugees, Wilma and Rob. Sam and the Lion-Maned Dog took up residence after that; then Friend, who was abused; and Millie, The World's Smallest German Shepherd.
Thirteen dogs found shelter with the Hawkins family and friends that first year, and all were welcomed.
But rescuing dogs also comes with a flip side: foster "parents" are temporary and must re-home their charges to a new, secure family. The Hawkinses learned to ask the right questions to find the right home for each dog, and while it was easy for Barrie to see some dogs leave, that wasn't always the case. How many times could a man say goodbye to his best friend?
After gazing at this book for a minute, it might be tempting to buy it just so you can own that adorable cover. Fortunately, if you do, you'll also have a darn good book to read along with it.
With gentle British humor, a James-Herriot-type setting and a whole cast of eccentric neighbors and friends, Hawkins tells a true story of love, caring, and learning that what's best for someone else sometimes hurts like the dickens.
For all that, and because it's such a sweet tale, I enjoyed this book.
Short on pages but long on heartwarming, this book won't take you long to read but you'll enjoy every minute. "Tea and Dog Biscuits" is a charmer, a tearjerker and funny to boot, and dog lovers will lap it up.
"Tea and Dog Biscuits," by Barrie Hawkins, copyright 2010: Chicago Review Press, is 255 pages and sells for $14.95.
Contact book reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer at www.bookwormsez.com.