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The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead

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“Relish the day. If you’re not in awe, you’re just not paying attention.”

She hadn’t even been in the crowded pound a week, but she’d already developed a nickname, “Knucklehead.” As a puppy she destroyed property and precious clothes; as an adult she injured her owner, ruined romances… and changed the world-views of those around her.

Have you ever watched an animal and wondered how it thinks, how it sees the world, how it views you? And have you ever wondered what wisdom you might learn if you could see things as that animal does?

This unique book is many things: an amusing and moving memoir about a memorable dog, a poetic ode to a human-animal connection, and a serious philosophical, psychological, and spiritual inquiry into the lessons a man gleaned from the simple-minded brilliance of a teacher, a lover, a liver of life to the fullest… a Knucklehead.

There has never before been a book like "The Teachings of Shirelle." Take a walk with this pooch, and you might never look at life, love, or yourself the same again.

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First published November 17, 2015

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About the author

Douglas Green

2 books17 followers
Douglas Green is a psychotherapist working in private practice in Los Angeles, specializing in helping kids and teens build lives they can be proud of.

Doug grew up in Kansas City, and has lived in Connecticut and Australia. For over twenty years, he worked in the entertainment world, as a writer, director, producer, editor, actor, assistant director, even truck driver. Plays he wrote and directed have won multiple awards, and he has numerous shorts, ads, and music videos, to his name. In 2000, he released the feature film The Hiding Place, starring Kim Hunter and Timothy Bottoms – a searing look at the effects of Dementia on a family – which has been shown around the world and written up in journals as diverse as Variety and Playboy.

As a writer, Doug has had articles published in the psychological journals Progress, The Therapist, and Connections. He also created, writes, and manages the website www.AskShirelle.com, which gives advice - not from his viewpoint, but from that of a hyperactive, over-eager mutt.

Speaking of whom, the concepts behind the website stem from his upcoming book The Teachings of Shirelle – Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead, set for release in November, 2015.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,366 reviews9,432 followers
February 23, 2016
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

This book just broke my heart. It's such a touching and funny story of a man and the dog he rescued as a pup right before she was doomed to be put down.

The story of their lives together is filled with fun, anger, love and many.. what the.. moments.

Shirelle was so funny and sweet and crazy all in one. She learns like they all do how to do things the right way and how to do what she wants. She was a great companion in therapy just by knowing what each patient needed from her. She was another brilliant soul and did nothing but give undying love to her person just like all wonderful doggers do.

This story is also sad, it just about killed me what she had to go through. It brought back sad, crying memories of what my own dog and son Dakota went through, but not as long and not as bad as Shirelle. Shirelle was a fighter until she couldn't fight any more.

I love how the author wrote out the different things he learned through Shirelle, to use in the real world.

God bless all of the wonderful dogs and any other animals in all of our lives that love us unconditionally. We are all given a privilege if we are allowed to love all of these wonderful animals.

Fin

*I would like to thank NETGALLEY and SMITH PUBLICITY for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review.*

Profile Image for Linda.
516 reviews49 followers
September 22, 2015
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
...and I'm glad I did, because if you're a dog lover, which I am, it's a goody. Doug, the author, was blessed to have the love of his life, his dog Shirelle, share his life with him for over a decade -- what a lucky man. She was a handful at times, but also a constant source of joy and enlightenment to him. This book could've been subtitled, "Zen and the Art of Learning to Fully Live Life, as Taught by Your Pet." Less a straightforward story about Shirelle, and more about how Doug's life was changed by Shirelle's sharing it with him, it is told chronologically, but there are many side stories to illustrate his points. It was as if Shirelle was his life coach in many ways. The reader will laugh, cry, smile frequently, and most of all wish for a pet like this sweet and feisty pound pup, unless you already are fortunate enough to have one -- in which case, looking into its eyes from now on might take on a whole new depth of meaning for you. Well done.
Profile Image for Aoife.
1,245 reviews530 followers
September 30, 2019
I received this book from the author/publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

But she was what all truly loved dogs are: She was, to someone, the best thing ever

This is a sweet memoir about a dog called Shirelle and all the lovely lessons she taught her human companion during her life.

This was a sweet book and while I don't think I got all the life lessons the author probably wanted me to from the text, I did just enjoy reading about a man who really, really loved his dog and who was his dog's world in return. The relationship between Shirelle and Douglas bordered more on life partner more so than parent/child the way you see in other dog/owner relationships and I like how much of a treasured yet respected companion Shirelle was in Douglas's life.

There were parts of this book that definitely bordered on tangents for me, and I did find myself wanting to skim through these parts before we got back to Shirelle and what she was doing at the time. I will say as well, I didn't really like how Douglas talked about the women in his life - I understand why he chose not to mention any of them by name but the way he used 'she' or 'her' rubbed me up the wrong way and I definitely would have preferred pseudonyms.

I did connect a good bit at the end of this book as Shirelle got older and little ailments began to affect her a bit more. As the owner of two aging dogs (16 and 11), I definitely understand the terrifying dilemma right now of a dog owner who isn't sure of when to draw the line between helping a dog and being selfish because I always need them around. Probably a part I'd recommend keeping some tissues beside you.
Profile Image for Mens Rea.
168 reviews33 followers
December 12, 2015
I don't generally like memoirs or autobiography-like books so I tend to avoid them. But this one was about the lessons a dog can teach us so I was very willing to read it.

When I first started reading it, I quickly became annoyed by the ignorance the author was showing towards dog behaviour and dog training. I stopped reading it and continued the next day. Then I realised, during this short break that I took from the book, that I was reading it all wrong!

I was paying way too much attention to what is proper training and not to what the story was about. I was using, as Shirelle tought me later, my brain to read this book while I should have been using my heart. Why does it matter if Shirelle was not the best behaving dog on the planet? Why does it matter that she most of the times was annoying? What matters is that this dog was the perfect companion for this author. And he was so amazed by what Shirelle had to teach him that he wanted to share the teachings of Shirelle with us.

I especially appreciated the honesty of the author in this memoir. He is not ashamed to share some very personal moments of failure and he remained sincere throughout the story. This is not a fictional story; there is no perfect bittersweet ending. But I do appreciate the imperfections because life is not perfect.

Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the true love and companionship that Green expressed to us, the readers, about his dog. It makes me very happy when people get to experience this level of connection with another animal and are not ashamed to share it with others. Green is not afraid to explain that Shirelle was one of the most important things in his life.

You see, here's the bitter fact about dogs. We can trust them in ways we can't trust other people, because we know they can't lie. And they love and trust us equally, because they don't understand that we can.


I liked the philosophies that the author was sharing throughout the book, even if I didn't agree with all of them. You can't always agree with everything after all. But some quotes are very powerful. Even if you want, you can't lie to dogs. Dogs are instinctual and they have a really powerful instinct. They see right through us, they know how we feel even when we don't.

How would it feel to be passionate about everything? To, instead of sighing, "I haven't accomplished anything today," exult, "There's so much I want to do!"


Living in the moment! A very big lesson.
I didn't expect to like this memoir so much. If you like dogs or if you are thinking about getting a dog or if you have a dog that is a knucklehead (like most of them are) read this book. Even if you start reading The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead with your brain like I did, Shirelle will definitely show you how to continue with your heart.
Profile Image for Miranda.
434 reviews88 followers
February 16, 2017
I received a copy via netgalley.

I'm going to admit I'm a sucker for a dog story. I love going to the park and talking to other dog owners about there dogs, I especially loved working at a vet clinic and hearing all these various stories from other good to bad and sometimes sad. My heart will always belong to paws. I thought this to be a many emotion level book, the writing might've needed a bit more focus so it wasn't so scattered brained at times but other then that I took it for just as it was a man talking about his lovely dog. Easily a 3.5 star read, it's a nice light read.
Profile Image for Angela.
199 reviews1 follower
October 18, 2015
I received a copy for review.

The Shirelle stories are cute and show how much he truly loves his dog. The rest seems detached and more like filler than anything else. He lost me quite a bit when he started talking about taking Shirelle for acupuncture.

Read it for Shirelle, skip all the extra.
Profile Image for Piepie | The Napping Bibliophile.
1,876 reviews139 followers
December 30, 2015
Thank you to netgalley for this arc!

The cover is beautiful, of the author's dog, Shirelle, who he fondly calls various names such as "my little girl"; "my angel"; and, of course, "Knucklehead." Very rarely do you come across a man who loves his dog as much as Doug loved Shirelle. It is an amazing tribute to a well-loved mutt.

Shirelle's story is magical and mystical. You'll see what I mean when you read it. She comes across as being a brat, but she is such a lover. She understood things that human wording could not form. Again, you'll see what I mean when you read this book. The relationship between this man and this dog is just precious, and it's wonderful to be on the outside looking in as you see their life together.

I could have done without all the philosophy and dream bits, and the writing is not stellar, but still, the author is to be admired for the loving home that he made for Shirelle. She sounds like one heck of a companion.

**crossposted to netgalley**
Profile Image for Lozzi Counsell.
Author 8 books26 followers
October 26, 2015
I don't even know where to start - I feel like there is a big Shirelle shaped hole in my heart. I knew how the story was going to end from the very first turn of the page, but it is still a shock when it happens. I loved the list of 'teachings' from Shirelle and photographs at the end of the book - summed it all up. I would say that the book needs more focus on the life of Shirelle, as although I loved hearing about the authors life, some of it isn't totally relevant to the growth of Shirelle.
3 reviews
February 21, 2020
Douglas Green's book is beautiful and heartfelt, a loving story about man and his best friend. There are nuggets of wisdom throughout, and also a lot of humor and warmth. We can learn so much for our canine companions, and this book shows us how true this is.

After I finished, I gave my own two dogs an extra big hug and a nice, long pampering.

Profile Image for Apex157x.
126 reviews3 followers
January 20, 2016
My review: I received this as an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

To be frank, this book took a little bit of effort to get into, I had to stop and go some, leave it then go back to it, it didn't suck me into it like some have, but it was more engaging as it went on, like a movie that start slow then you gradually get into it as it gets more interesting. A bit flowery sometimes, the author definitely wears his heart on his sleeve as it were, but then later on, you start rooting for Shirelle in a way you wouldn't have expected, you begin to care and you identify with the writer, or at least anyone that has made an emotional connection with their pet at any time in their life. Then when it gets to the point where he is bringing Shirelle to his workplace and she is helping hurting people, I have a soft spot for those with mental and emotional problems that are hurting and suffering, and Shirelle's ability to connect and help those in his office and ultimately help them heal some, made me take notice of this book more than any other part, and was the reward for staying with the book to this point. There was definitely a spiritual and a human connection at that point that put the rest of the book into perspective. I debated on 3 vs. 4 stars, I started the book at about 2.5 stars, then by the end I was trending higher. Not quite a 4, I reserve those for the very best ones, but unfortunately there isn't a 3.5, so I went with a 3. I would recommend this book, wasn't connecting at first, but hit a home run at the end, and that made a lot of difference! I would also read more by this author if he so chooses to write any more. Kudos and job well done.
63 reviews
November 7, 2015
We all need a friend or mentor to find ourselves in this confusing world. When the time arrives to look inside ourselves to see who we are after we leave home, it is not always easy to decide if our compass is correct, or what we desire in a chosen mate. The general crowd about us never takes the time to obtain a intricate view into this dilemma. They jump into relationships along with their "baggage", life becomes turbulent, and they never gain essential knowledge to travel a better road.
I initially saw the author as a person a little bit too taken with the dog. Upon after finishing the narrative, I decided that we all experience difficulties in this life. Any way we can survive is viable
The author, famous in his own way, connects with his dog, Shirelle. He traces her entry into his life, her positive and negative traits along the journey, and as dogs can be, she always loved him unconditionally. In life, we all should be so lucky to discover a mate with that component. At times the author observes they way he treats Shirelle,;not always at his best, but that is the way with all relationships. The lessons learned from Shirelle allows the author to see himself and to see the way ahead more clearly.

A wonderful story for all pet lovers, and a grand read for anyone else willing to listen and think about lives surrounding us.
Profile Image for Kristal Stidham.
692 reviews7 followers
March 15, 2016
Another homage to an "exceptional" pet, by some random person? Yes... and, Not Hardly.

I'll admit, I'm quick to pick up a book like this when I want some inspiration with a side of tear-jerker. As a cat-person, the stories of Dewey and Homer stand out as worthy best-sellers in the genre -- but this one is even better than those because Green does a great job of describing Shirelle's personality. I think it's because he foregoes the day-to-day stuff and gives anecdotal snippets (including poems, which are by nature sentimental) to highlight what was special and/or instructional about their relationship. He's also simply a good writer, crafting a narrative in a way that keeps you turning the page.

I recommend this book to everyone, not just animal lovers. The "lessons" are universal: struggling with personal worthiness, shame, self-doubt. If you don't have those problems yourself, you need to be aware that friends and family members might need a boost. I think it would be hard to close this book without feeling that your time was well-spent.

** I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley.com, in exchange for an honest review.**
Profile Image for Ruby.
606 reviews47 followers
November 17, 2015
If you love dogs, this book will deliver a story that will have you shake your head in recognition, laugh at the relationship between the two, and cry as they go through their lows. Shirelle is a dog that has problems from the beginning. She is slated to be destroyed when the author finds her and from there begins a relationship that will impact not only Mr. Green's life, but also many others around him.

I was blown away at how fun and wonderful this story was. Shirelle reminded me of a dog I once has so it was even more personal to me than I would have once thought. I cried and laughed at the stories and the lessons she taught him. I received the ebook first and then was blessed by the publisher with the physical copy. If you are incline to purchase this book, buy the physical copy. The colored photos inside will make the book come alive even more and really make you connect with the characters.

Bring a tissue and wag a tail, this is a book that will definitely make you think.
383 reviews3 followers
November 13, 2015
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review, my thanks to Cavalleria and Smith Publicity for this opportunity.
Really enjoyed this story of the life and wisdom of Shirelle. Although the language is a little big"flowery" for me at times, I think this novel will speak to many who share their lives with big hearted , maddening, canine friends. The author's view of Shirelle' s responses, especially her joyful impulsive behaviour is accurate and helpful, especially when thinking about similar experiences of one's own. The final section of the book is a reminder of the pain of loss and the real importance to seize the day!
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,029 reviews259 followers
November 29, 2015
REVIEW: THE TEACHINGS OF SHIRELLE by Douglas Green

I, literally, read every dog book I can. Among these I have certain personal favorites. THE TEACHINGS OF SHIRELLE has become one. Not only do adorable dogs [I know, redundancy] populate this wonderful memoir plus spiritual legacy, but author Douglas Green clearly resonates as I do with the canine species. No dog lover or human-owned-by-dog should miss out on the wonderful THE TEACHINGS OF SHIRELLE.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,095 reviews15 followers
November 19, 2015
What a loving story between a man & his dog. Do we ever stop to think about the lessons our dog can teach us. Do we realize why the dog in your life does some of the things he or she does? This is the love story of one man and one very special dog who meet at the pound. Just a really beautiful story.
Profile Image for Tricia Douglas.
1,188 reviews46 followers
January 4, 2016
Douglas Green has written a story about himself, a story about a dog, but most importantly, a story about how to live life. I never knew how important friends, family, AND PETS were until I read this enlightening book. Loved the story and I came away with some wonderful lessons. This is a book I found under the Christmas tree from my daughter. Best thing I have ever received!!!
Profile Image for Eileen Hall.
1,074 reviews
December 23, 2015
All I can say about this wonderful story is that I want a dog just like Shirelle!
She can teach all of us many things!
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publishers Smith Publicity, Cavalleria via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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