Review: Charlie Bear (Book)

Title: Charlie Bear: What a Headstrong Rescue Dog Taught Me About Life, Love, and Second Chances

Author: B.J. Taylor

Publisher: Inspiring Voices (A Service of Guideposts), Bloomington, IN

DogTipper Review: Award-winning author B.J. Taylor presents the true story of Charlie Bear, a scruffy rescue dog who worked his way into Taylor’s family and into her heart. Taylor is a well-known contributor to Guideposts magazine and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and other publications.

Taylor and husband Roger had recently lost both of their cats, Diamond and Red, and were considering adopting another dog to keep their longtime companion, Rex, a golden Lab, company. Roger especially was affected by the death of their cats and suggested adopting a small dog, “maybe a Yorkie.” But, when they start searching for available rescues, the couple found themselves attracted to another shelter dog.

Charlie Bear was larger than a Yorkie, but had a cute face and was listed as a Shih Tzu/Terrier mix. Investigating further, they were warned that Charlie had quite a few behavioral issues, a result of being sadly neglected during his puppyhood. In fact, they were told, Charlie might well be unadoptable. He guards his food, throws tantrums and compulsively chases his tail when agitated, they were told. However, the couple decides to take a chance on the little guy anyway, hoping that their experience with shelter animals and the calming presence of Rex will be an antidote to Charlie’s behavioral problems.

What follows is an honest, heartwarming, often heart wrenching account of the couple’s experience in adopting this headstrong dog and the valuable lessons they learned along the way. Their determination to give Charlie Bear (“this young troublemaker”) a chance to develop his potential is a tribute to their unending devotion to him and their other pets, both past and present, as well as to shelter dogs everywhere. In her acknowledgements, the author says that:

“I didn’t go looking for this story. It found me. Charlie Bear plunged into my life in a big way and his was a story begging to be told… My life has been enriched in multiple ways by the adoption of Charlie Bear.”

Taylor is a talented writer and while we may be familiar with the story’s arc (problem dog finds his forever home, struggles with inner demons and eventually triumphs over them), her evocative prose elevates the narrative and personalizes it wonderfully. We found Charlie Bear to be an emotional page-turner and raced through it, eager to follow the story and to ponder the heartfelt insights the couple shares with readers.

Charlie weighs in with a few chapters himself, reminding us that he faced challenges of his own and demonstrating his evolving maturity. Eventually, he begins to gain perspective. Grateful for the love he receives from his “peeps,” Charlie finds the realization that love is a two-way street:

“Therapy. Training. Patience. Love. Those are the remedies…and there’s also a big one I forgot. Time…”

“I’m thankful for the second chances I’ve been given in my two short years of life. If I could go back, I’d change some of the things I’ve done, but I can’t go back. I can only go forward.

So, I’m moving into the future one day at a time… We’ve got time. And we have more second chances.”

Recommended to pet parents everywhere, Charlie Bear will have you hooked from the first chapter to the last. Thank you, B.J., Roger, Rex and Charlie Bear for sharing your enlightening, inspiring story.

Price: $9.99 – $15.99; available from

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Disclosure: We received a review copy of Charlie Bear: What a Headstrong Rescue Dog Taught Me About Life, Love, and Second Chances; we were not paid for our review and all opinions are entirely our own.

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Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the award-winning authors of over 30 pet and travel books as well as the founders and publishers of CatTipper and DogTipper.