Book Review: Forever Paws by Christine Davis

Cover of book forever paws
"Forever Paws" by Christine Davis, from the author's website.

For anyone who’s felt the empty, aching void left in their heart by the loss of a beloved animal companion that no tears or words can seem to fill, Christine Davis’s beautifully-illustrated gift book, Forever Paws, will tenderly help to fill and heal it with loving and beautiful thoughts and images.

The comforting rich turquoise book cover and the calming violet end papers lead into a colorful world of starry backgrounds and pastoral pictures where polka-dot dogs and stripedy cats along with whimsical horses, bunnies, mice and birds all proudly display their glowing, magical paws, hooves, feet and claws as they wait in the hereafter for their human companions to join them.

And those human companions, with the impressions of those paws prominently impressed on their hearts, watch and wait and wander until their time comes to leave their tired old bodies and, led by the light of those Forever Paws, find their way to the bridge in the stars to meet again and spend eternity with all the animal companions whose paws have touched their hearts.

This story and its detailed illustrations as well as Christine’s other illustrated books are not simply the fanciful imaginings of an animal lover but the real stories of her own experiences with animals she has loved and lost turned into art. Years ago Christine’s forever dog, Martha, inspired her first illustrated book For Every Dog an Angel and launched an unexpected career in creating illustrated story books, and from there the cats and dogs who have shared her life inspired a series of similarly lovely and deeply touching gift books: For Every Cat an Angel, Old Dog & the Christmas Wish and The Shelter Dog.

page from forever paws
"Many Paw Prints" from "Forever Paws", provided by the author.

“Remember what you are feeling, there’s another book to be written.”

Years ago Christine’s forever dog Jake found a litter of abandoned kittens under the deck, and Christine took them in, bottle-fed them and raised and kept all four. At the end of 2010 one of those cats, Dickens, was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer so advanced Christine had to let him go just hours after the diagnosis, then she discovered Dickens’ sister, her forever cat Pippin, also had cancer and lost her just a few months after Dickens.

Losing two cats that close together can leave an animal lover of any depth reeling and complicate grieving—how can you do justice to two loving souls who’ve shared your life, at the same time? And then consider the relationship of the four siblings, now parted, the depth of saving their lives, bottle-feeding and raising them to happy healthy cats, and even the long-ago bond with Jake, who had found them. A tender heart might never mend.

In a note from the author in the beginning of the book, Christine remarks that although she thought she’d “said everything I was meant to say about loss in my books…”, someone mentioned she’d never written a book about coping with the loss of an animal companion. After the loss of Dickens and Pippen, her “world fell apart”, and she heard the words, “Remember what you are feeling—there’s another book to be written.”

black cat reading forever paws
Mewsette studies all the animals drinking from the "River of Tears".

Forever Paws is that book, “a loving gift from my precious feline friends…”, Christine’s own exploration of her grief turned into the universal story of our relationship with our animal companions: we meet, our lives lovingly intertwine, and though they must leave they take a little piece of our hearts with them and leave their pawprints in its place, then enjoy a peaceful and happy existence with other beloved animal companions, drinking from the river of tears and dancing among the stars until we go to join them. And even though they are not physically with us, they are always available to us, watching over us. Oh, that Purgatory could be so sweet.

I like books, and despite the fact that more often than not I enjoy audiobooks to save my eyesight for my art and illustration, I still like to hold a book, illustrated or straight text, read from its pages and let it carry me off through my imagination to another world. I can take a book off into the woods and not worry about devices or batteries or jostling the thing while I’m climbing down a steep path to my favorite reading spot along the trail. A book is always ready for me.

two black cats reading forever paws
Mewsette comforts Jelly Bean as they remember Peaches.

When I lost Peaches in October 2010, Christine sent me a gift copy of For Every Cat an Angel, and while I’d been corresponding with her and studying her style on her website and blog, I finally had a chance to study one of her books. What a pleasure to see not only her illustrations combined with her story and to experience the story as she intended us to see it, but also to admire the details of the book itself, the quality dust jacket and its sturdy bound cover, the book’s size and shape, just right for carrying along for comfort and holding to study each page and enjoy its message without being overwhelmed with details of content and images.

Christine published Forever Paws in late 2011 and sent me a review copy and a note that told me she’d taken the liberty of hiding the names of some special animal companions in the artwork, and had placed a bookmark in the page where I’d find Peaches’ name. I’m so proud that Peaches is forever remembered in this book that will touch the hearts of so many.

Christine also didn’t know that this book had reached me at an auspicious time for another reason. I wanted to immediately share this book with everyone, but I also knew the extent of Cookie’s illness and every time I sat down to begin my review I could not focus and knew I’d have to wait. Cookie’s paws have been burnished in my heart for years, and now she waits for me and I can think of her among the stars and the green grass with the other loving animal companions in Forever Paws.

illustration from forever paws
"At the River" from "Forever Paws", provided by the author.

About Christine’s career as an artist and writer

Because I love to study the work of other artists and discuss style and technique I’ve been planning a profile of Christine for my feature Creating With Cats. As a follow-up to this book review I’ve published that article, another story of someone who had didn’t start out as an artist but ended up that way, inspired by her cats and other animals in her life.

Please read more about Forever Paws on Christine’s website, Lighthearted Press and also take some time to read about her other books and the special gifts she offers for those grieving the loss of an animal companion.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.

Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Forever Paws by Christine Davis

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  • February 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm
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    Bernadette, thank you so much for your beautiful words about my book, Forever Paws. Pippen and Dickens are purring from above – the book was, they reminded me, their idea!The page where I wrote Peaches’ name includes the words “the heart of an animal lover can hold many paw prints.” No one knows that better than you! It’s an honor to see my work through the eyes of such a gifted writer and artist – thank you, again.

    Reply
    • February 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm
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      Chris, it was my pleasure to share your book–and the page Peaches’ name is on was not lost one me, though I wondered if you knew how many cats I’d lost when you placed it there. I can’t thank you enough.

      Reply
  • February 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm
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    This is such a special book. And I love that Peaches is in there – I’ll have to find her in my copy! I love the photos of your kids reading.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm
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      Ingrid, here’s a hint–take a close look at one of the pages Mewsette and JB are looking at; I really didn’t pose them for this, it was their idea! Chris was very sweet to do that, and I will always remember Cookie in this as well since it came at the time when we really knew we weren’t going to turn things around.

      Reply

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