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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

GUEST POST: Author Carmen Leal on ‘The Lifesaving Power of Dogs’


“I Chose You” author Carmen Leal.

By Carmen Real

Author of I Chose You, Imperfectly Perfect Rescue Dogs and Their Humans.

Winner of our first-ever Pawsome Book Award.

Take it away, Carmen:


On June 18, 2015, an inattentive driver in a large SUV slammed into our small Subaru leaving me with a concussion and moderate frontal and temporal traumatic brain injury. As cliched as it is, everything changed in an instant. I went from loving my job as a concierge in Hawaii creating dream vacations for guests to dreading having to deal with people because of the never-ending level ten migraines.

Two Outcomes

I saw two outcomes and neither was good; I’d be fired because I could no longer effectively do my job, or I’d kill myself. When I wasn’t working, I was online researching how much of each medication I should take to kill myself. Because I earned more than my husband and I could no longer work a commission job, we decided to move to a place where I did not have to work for a while. Or ever. If I could not live where I wanted to live, I might as well move to where I had a son.

The Move

In retrospect, moving from sunny Hawaii to gloomy Wisconsin in March probably was not the best choice, but that is what we did in 2017. My doctor had suggested getting a dog to help me in the healing process. He said the dog would change everything. Not only was I not a dog person, but I could not fathom taking care of one when I could barely take care of myself.


By October of that year I knew something had to change and so we went to the only rescue shelter open one Saturday morning. We came home with Coconut, the dog who saved my life.

Ten Ways a Dog Can Change Your Life for the Better

My story is dramatic and one I wish had never happened. The good news is that you don’t need to have a near-death experience to benefit from the lifesaving power of a dog. Here are ten ways a dog can change your life for the better.

  • Dogs make us feel needed.  
  • Dogs reduce loneliness.
  • Dogs remind us to play and have fun.
  • Dogs force us outside increasing vitamin D exposure which improves our mood.
  • Regular dog walking improves our fitness levels.
  • Dogs are people magnets and allow us to meet new people in our community.
  • Petting a dog lowers blood pressure which could lower your chance of cardiovascular disease.
  • Dogs reduce stress. They know how to simply be there for us when we are struggling with something,   
  • Dogs tend to live in the moment. They help us become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present.

The dog who saved my life embodies this quote by actor Robert Wagner:

“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.”

I guess that’s the real number one lifesaving power of a dog.


Oh yeah.

8 thoughts on “GUEST POST: Author Carmen Leal on ‘The Lifesaving Power of Dogs’

  1. I need to get a dog! My husband always said I could have a dog once I settle down, but that is never going to happen! So I want my dog now! All of these postings ring so true!!

  2. I was always that never gonna get a dog person.. I had reasons, and I didn’t hate dogs by any means, I was just not at a place where getting a dog made sense. I am sorry that it took a car wreck and brain damage to knock me to my senses about getting a dog. He saved me in so many ways and I can’t imagine life without him. Thank you featuring me and Coconut. I always hope that my words will reach non-dog people and get them thinking about dogs in a different way. There are so many dogs who need love, but they have so much love to give us.

    • If your terrific book inspires just one person to adopt a rescue dog into a loving and responsible, it’s a big success in our book!

      There are so many dogs in need of good homes. C’mon people! Step up to the plate! Owning a dog is a big responsibility. But the love and loyalty you get in return is endless. And priceless. So c’mon again!🐾

  3. I love your honesty in this post Carmen. It takes so much bravery to be so candid.

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