US Review of Books for Giving Paws

by Martha L. Thompson
Koehler Books
“What I did not anticipate were all the other challenges that came with having a four-footed assistant by my side.”

After her father’s death in a car crash, Martha sinks into a dark period of depression and self-doubt that reignites the “childhood demon” of her anorexia nervosa. As she battles these conditions, she recognizes the healing power of her dogs and animals, thus motivating herself to improve physically and mentally. She abandons her acting career and studies and volunteers at a zoo that leads to a new career. Then a doctor suggests getting a service dog to help her manage difficulties with her illnesses, a surprising idea for Martha.

Shortly after the loss of two of her dogs, a black and tan miniature Dachshund-Chihuahua named Henry comes into Martha’s life. Though Henry proves a worthy candidate as a service dog, becoming the first approved service dog for employees at the zoo, Martha is mired by confusion and incidental attraction to Henry that becomes intrusive. As she works to improve her health, Martha finds kinship and inspiration in unlikely places, and with Henry by her side, she faces obstacles that only motivate her to take another step toward new chapters of her life.

Though some disabilities are not outwardly visible, like blindness or paralysis, Martha’s disability is real, and she gracefully shares her story in this memoir. She delves into the months of training with Henry, the complex medical issues, her hidden shame, and the uninvited criticisms expressed by others. But Martha is a strong, kindred spirit who doesn’t allow herself to get beaten down, despite the negative voices in her head. She researches and advocates to overcome stumbling blocks, forming powerful connections within the community and discovering more about herself along the way. Hers is a beautiful story, and animal lovers, the disabled, and anyone else will no doubt celebrate it and be made better because of it.

12 thoughts on “US Review of Books for Giving Paws

  1. Hi Martha,

    Thanks for the US Review! Are you pleased with it? Could tell it was written by a man! Where does this appear? How are you feeling? It is cold and grey here…sorry to see winter setting in. Hope all is well…..I love you, mom

    Sent from my iPad


    • I was not too familiar with US Review of Books, but they sent an email saying “The review will appear on the website indefinitely in the review archive under the appropriate category. It will also be printed in our next monthly(December), newsletter and appear in the “recent reviews” section during that month. Our publication is updated and the newsletter is sent on the first of each month.”

      Today Henry had his monthly chemo check-up and blood tests, and he is okay to continue. Most of the time he’s himself, but occasionally has a bad day where he is not hungry and walks in a strange way that suggests he’s hurting. Right now he’s happy to be home from the vet.
      I’m okay too. Don is in PA, so I miss him, but my animals are good company.

  2. This review just enforces what I have always known about you, Martha, that you are a strong and resilient person who faces all her demons and takes them on head on. Now more people will not only know what you have gone through but that there is always family and friends who will support those who need a encouraging word to help them through the tough times. And some of the best friends to have are of the animal kind who never passes judgment but rather are there when you need it. Congrats!!

  3. Just read the review. You know, Martha, your book has the potential for either a made-for-TV movie or a big screen one. You deserve all the best that will come from Giving Paws. How is Henry… would love to see him. And how is Dan? Job situation settled? The best, the best, the best, Ann >

    • Hi Ann. Henry had his monthly chemo check-up today. His blood is still ok. He has bad and good days, mostly good. Thank you for reading the review. I was pleased.
      Don will work through May for STATS, then they are moving to Chicago. We’re staying here, where it’s warm! I’m hoping he can find something to do that uses his skills and energy. We’ll see what happens. He”s not worried about it one way or the other. so I shouldn’t be, right?

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