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Home » Book Review » Sit, Stay, Heal: What Dogs Can Teach Us About Living Well

Sit, Stay, Heal: What Dogs Can Teach Us About Living Well

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Sit, Stay, Heal

by Dr. Renee Alsarraf

Dr. Alsarraf is a veterinary oncologist. Her training and profession put her in the odd position of knowing way more than most people about cancer in both animals and people. Even as she works with cancer patients and their pet parents every day, she is shocked when she is diagnosed with what she calls “the C word.”

Dr. Alsarraf’s story is quite properly told in the first person. She shares the struggles of some of her patients and compares them with her own battles. Because animals live in a present mindset, they don’t have a fear of the tomorrows of cancer. They have fewer side effects from treatments. For example, they don’t lose their fur. There are many similarities, however, in the unknown outcomes of treatments and the unpredictability of cancer.

I thought this might be a very dark book, but it isn’t. It is inspiring to watch Dr. Alsarraf and her team of assistants work diligently and with care and respect as they treat their patients. Dr. Alsarraf takes time to explain everything to the pet’s human parents and to answer their questions. She never hurries them or makes them feel guilty about their decisions assuring them that there are no right or wrong answers in treatment choice.

There is another situation in this dedicated vet’s life that doubles the emotional impact, but to share it would be a spoiler. I found tears streaming down my face and had to wait a day to finish the book. Sit, Stay, Heal is very well written. The Introduction sets up the reader to journey with the author through her personal battle and shares her philosophies about cancer, pets, and fighting back. Each of the ten chapters that follow focuses on the story of a pet patient, the pet’s family, and her interaction with them all the while enduring her own health struggles. Sit, Stay, Heal is a heart felt book with more smiles than tears for a dog owner.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Memoir, Nonfiction

Publication: October 18, 2022—Harper One

Memorable Lines:

All cats and dogs live in the moment, carefree. They do not waste the present, worried about what might happen in the future. Or how much longer they have to live.

Before the C word, I’d always thought that life was so under my control, and yet the disease has helped me realize that I was never in control of the really big things, or even the medium things.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a loved one. Through good days and bad, our pets provide such unconditional love, support, and companionship. They’re with us for fun times, and also are there to snuggle with when the outside world seems too harsh.


  1. Carla says:

    Excellent review, Linda. I can imagine that this book would have its ups and downs. I have added it to my shelf and will try and find a copy. It is definitely an emotional topic, both sick pets as well as her own cancer story.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Cozynookbks says:

    Excellent review of this one, Linda. I’m not sure if I could handle reading it. I’m very emotional, and I love animals and hate suffering, so if it made you pause for a day I might not be able to take it. It does sound like a very good book though. Thx for telling us about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      It is a hard one, Laurie. My book club is reading All Creatures Great and Small at the same time I was reading Sit, Stay, Heal. I was glad to have Herriot’s book as a positive interruption to the reading of the other. I told the other ladies who are all animal lovers about the book. In sharing with them I recommended the book as a good one that they probably would not want to read.🙃

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gretchen says:

    Sounds like a fascinating read, Linda! What a great perspective the author must have. I have no doubt it would be emotional. The second quote you shared is so true, but sometimes it takes something big to help us realize this truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      Yes, that truth reminds me of a book I read years ago by Judith Viorst–Imperfect Control. I think the title says it all. We like to think we are in control, but we really don’t see the bigger picture that God does.


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