Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

‘I Chose You’ Wins Prestigious Award


I Chose You

Imperfectly Perfect Rescue Dogs and Their Humans

By Carmen Leal

Publisher: Wag Away Publishing, 2022

Pages: 264 pages

Genre: Non-fiction/Inspirational

Via: Blog Tour

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“I know these dogs!” saith Kimber the Magnificent. “They’re my BFFs!”

Her Momness: “Okay, Kimmi. But everyone’s your BFF.”

Kimber: “So?”

So…. You’ve heard of the Pulitzer Prize? The Newbery Medal? The Nobel Prize? Small potatoes, bub. They’re nothing next to the Official Mom-Tested, Kimber-Approved Pawsome Book Award.

The Pawsome Book Award

“What’s a Pawsome Book Award?” you ask. Good question. It’s like sunshine on a cloudy day. Birthdays. The first day of summer vacation. Christmas morning. BFFs. All rolled into one.

Reserved for the top one percent (that’s 1% for those in the back) of all books read, the Pawsome Award is our highest honor.

I Chose You is the first-ever recipient of this prestigious award. Here’s why:

First things first

One reason we loved this book is due to a sweet furry face you all know and love. Yes. Kimber is a rescue dog. We got Kimber from the local rescue folks when she was ten weeks old. Had a meet-up/intro at a local park. Deb, the rescue lady, said, “Would you like to hold her?”

‘Simply Irresistible!’

Who Can Resist That?!

Are you kidding me? (Her Momness). A ten week old puppy? Well. Who can resist that? One of us turned to mush. In a nano-second. And that’s basically how the smartest member of the family joined us. (Mom: Don’t tell Kimber I said that, okay? She’ll never let me forget.)

So when we were contacted for a blog tour of I Chose You, we barked at the chance!

One of my baby pictures.


I Chose You is an anthology of stories about rescue dogs and their humans. It’s funny and frolicsome. Teary and triumphant. Full of power and pathos and paws. Lots and lots of paws.

Author Carmen Leal interweaves her own story into the anthology. She explains how she was one of those “never want a dog” types (who are these people??!!). But then she adopted Coconut as an emotional support dog after a traumatic brain injury. And life has never been the same. (You know how dogs do that, right?) Explains Leal: 

“I made all kinds of mistakes… But the one thing that has never been a mistake was getting not just a dog, but this exact dog. This dog really does complete me. The pieces of me that needed healing are slowly doing just that.”

What? (My stuffed buddy, Mr. Skunk. Sort of.)

So I Chose You is sunshine on a cloudy day. It’s the kind of book you want to savor slowly and re-read over and over. Its stories are effervescent. Transcendent. Marinated in hope and grace and joy. Open any chapter and fur-clad angels on four paws will wing their way into your heart. Like:

  • A three-legged beam of “morning sunshine” named Addae.
  • Duke, the lab who serves as the eyes for his canine mom, Daisy. She’s blind. Duke is her “seeing eye dog.”
  • A senior mini Eskimo dog named Herbie the Love Bug (I am not making this up. Honest.)
  • Brownie and a lifetime of memories. Kindly pass the tissue.
  • A darling chihuahua aptly named Heavenly Joy.
  • How a realtor named Eva helped a homeless single mom not only find housing, but also place her where she could bring her “high maintenance” pit bull, Noah.
  • A “diva” shih tzu named Ike.
  • Mimi, the rescue dog who returned the favor.
  • Ember, the golden retriever who helps her autistic human.
  • An elderly mixed breed dog named Boxer who calms and comforts nursing home residents.

I know. I’m AWESOME!


Besides a glittering galaxy of rescue dog stories, I Chose You includes tons of practical advice and educational tips. Like the whys and hows of rescue organizations and how you can help. How not all dogs at a shelter are there due to neglect or abuse. Sometimes dogs from loving homes wind up in a shelter because they’ve somehow become separated from their humans. They’re found and taken to a shelter. So. All together now: Get. Your. Dog. Micro-chipped. (Can you hear us in the back?)

“Remember, whatever they do, they love you. And you love them during the good, the bad, and the priceless. When it comes to dogs, we do it all for love.”  – Carmen Leal

Also why birdseed can be a major canine health hazard. (Hi, Coconut.)

‘Ya comin, or what?’


There are so many great chapters in this radiant, winsome read. Select stand-outs include entitled “The Mud That Wasn’t Mud.’ Been there. Done that. (Or pretty darn close.) Also Before They Were Yours. And Diagnosed by a Dog. Dogs know. They just know. So Pay. Attention.

By the way, don’t ever, ever say something totally brainless to Mom like, “It’s just a dog.” BIG. MISTAKE. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you, okay? – Kimber.)

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.” – Bruce Cameron

‘You gonna eat that?’

A Word From Mom

This book rescued me. Without going into all the details and sending you straight to Snoozeville, let’s just say that it arrived at a time that was a really hard time. It came on the heels of a traumatic experience involving a loved one. 9-1-1. Ambulance. Fifteen hours in the E.R. (We’re good now. Thanks for asking.) But it was pretty darn hair-raising. Exhausting. Depleting. 

I needed a boost. Badly. 

That boost came from I Chose You. And a sweet furry face we all know and love.

So again. We can’t even put into words how much we loved this book (not that we’re biased or anything). You will, too. So… Pawsome Award!

Our Rating: 5.0+


Think about it, okay?


4 thoughts on “‘I Chose You’ Wins Prestigious Award

  1. I guess sometimes blog comments don’t register. On Tuesday I got my first review from the blog tour and I have to tell you I was and continue to be blown away! Thank you so much.

    Usually a review talks in general terms and, while it’s lovely to get 5 star review, they are typically short and to the point. But, oh my goodness, this review was a delight to read and the details made me feel like I was reading my book again.

    I love the way she detailed some of her favorite stories and how they made both her and Kimber feel. And what a cute doggy! Kimber is gorgeous.

    I love being the first recipient of the PawSome Book Award. I blasted that news to my followers and there was a ton of joy and then more forwards. It’s such a honor to get this award. I know there are a ton of books out there, cause who doesn’t want to write a book about dogs, and so to be singled out really made my weej.

    This has been a year of knee replacements (my husband) an April snow of 16″, a broken dishwasher, and an expensive trip to the vet. So this award and reading your enthusiastic and really fun words made such a difference to me and you will never know how it helped me get through this week.

    I love your writing style and the fact that you love dogs and share your dog with us.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Carmen Leal

    • Our pleasure. Glad you enjoyed the award. Keep up the good work. Kimber says hello to Coconut, as one rescue dog to another! 🐾

  2. What a wonderful award you’ve given to a charming book! Between your post and the book itself, I’m more sure than ever I need to be chosen by a rescue dog too. Thank you so much for taking part in the tour!

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