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How a Dog Transformed a Family: An Interview with Phil Callaway
We teach dogs to fetch and roll over…but dogs can teach us some even greater tricks for life. Discover what one little dog named Mojo taught her family in this fun and insightful interview with bestselling author Phil Callaway. (You’ll also learn what Phil thinks about whether or not dogs go to heaven!)
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You say Tricks My Dog Taught Me is the story of how a dog changed a family. How?
Phil Callaway: An old preacher said, “If you want to learn more about God, get a dog.” So we did.
Mojo cost us $300 (or $100 per brain cell). She’s been worth every penny. Our family was a mess when she came along. This dog was better than a dozen psychiatrists. And cheaper.
What did she teach you?
Phil: To attack each day with expectancy. That there’s a time to go ahead and howl. To laugh. I have yet to meet a couple whose marriage is in trouble who say, “We just laugh too much together.” When my parents finally entered a nursing home and we brought the dog to visit, the joy level in that place went through the roof.
You say your dog taught you about God. Can you explain that idea?
Phil: This little critter is about 10 pounds. My friend has an 80-pound dog. When he brought that monster by our house, our dog literally stood between me and this huge dog and wouldn’t let it near me. A dog is the only animal that will give its life to save a member of another species.
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.” At the heart of the gospel is the God who would rather die than live without us. I’ve seen this reflected in my dog.
What is the most common question people ask you about dogs?
Phil: "Do dogs go to heaven?" Even older people ask this. My daughter Rachael once asked me this. I’m no theologian, but I said, “Why not? God can raise up trees and grass—why not my dog?”
A child asked this of Billy Graham. He said, “If it would make her any happier, then her dog will be there.” I agree.
The Bible tells us that animals will be part of the new heaven and new earth. Will they include the exact same dogs we knew and loved? I don’t know. But God isn’t about to deprive us of what he delighted us with on earth. God loves us and is preparing a place for us that will be out of this world.
Your dog is 15. Is she still teaching you?
Phil: Oh yeah. An old dog teaches us that you’re never too old to sniff out new possibilities. That you can grow old without growing ugly.
When we leave our house and head north for a walk she lags behind, but the moment we turn around something happens. She tugs at the leash, picks up speed, longing for home. That’s been a huge lesson for me amid all the difficult circumstances of life, to simply have a longing for home.
When this dog arrived I was nursing bitterness, depression, fear, and worry. Tricks My Dog Taught Me is the story of how God used a little dog to change a family in remarkable ways.