GG’s Journey: From Lost to Loved
Cheryl Lyn Phillips
We all know the commercial; it’s become a cliche. Sarah McLachlan music comes on the television and you immediately hit mute or turn the channel hoping to dodge the grim images of abused and homeless animals. You end up flicking back to the channel only to still encounter McLachlan’s soul crushing public service announcement. Furious, you click away again or sit there and stew in your juices. This is the moment you realize you’re a bad person, that you’re angry with a sentimental PSA trying to simply get you to give to an organization that attempts to ameliorate cruelty.
We’re all terrible people. And we often take out our terribleness on the creatures that can do the least to defend themselves, dogs and cats. Those who work in animal rescue have a hard enough time trying to find, save, bring back to health, and place homeless animals that having to deal with others’ arrogant of guilt doesn’t really register. Nor should it.
This is why reading GG’s Journey by Cheryl Lyn Phillips matters, it is a story that doesn’t shy away from harsh reality but is more concerned with showing just how easy it can be to break out of the cycle of cruelty so many animals endure. Told from the point of view of a homeless dog, GG’s Journey, is meant to be sentimental but more than that to get readers to act.
Maryland, later Gorgeous Girl or GG for short, is a homeless dog on the streets of Detroit, Michigan. In a way, Phillips makes GG’s return to health a story about the city itself:
The city of Detroit was changing. The neighborhood where I lived used to be full of families with children playing and pets chattering as you walked by, but now there was a thundering silence. People were moving out of the city to live in newer homes in the suburbs. Eventually, so many people left that there were thousands of abandoned homes resulting in increased crime and poverty for the people who remained. The houses on Maryland Street were no different than others on so many streets throughout Detroit.
Maryland is rescued as the story recounts the 31 weeks of her life as she goes from shelter to foster care to a home. Ultimately becoming a bit of a show dog for the success of animal rescue. As a ‘pit bull,’ Maryland confronts and overcomes subtle and visceral human bias with the help of her human caregivers. There is a scene early on in the novel where Maryland is dehydrated, starving lying in the shade of a tree looking out at passersby. She sees a woman and decides to make one last push to survive, “Please don’t be afraid of me, I thought. Please don’t look away…” The woman doesn’t and so begins Maryland’s new life.
Phillips decided to write her novel “to bring awareness to the plight of pit bulls and all abandoned, homeless, neglected, and abused animals.” It is a noble cause but more importantly, Phillips is able to present us with a story that though emotive isn’t sappy or cliche. GG’s Journey is an excellent story for animal educators to use, for young readers and adults to experience so to understand that animals aren’t things, disposable and unfeeling.
Animal rescue matters, it’s more than mere bleeding heart posturing because it’s one of the ways we demonstrate our humanity. So the least we can do is endure a commercial, donate, or read an uplifting, long short story. Phillips’ GG’s Journey sends 15% of its net proceeds to animal rescue to end animal homelessness, euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets, exploitation, inhumane treatment, and animal cruelty. It is a novella that raises awareness, raises funds, and raises spirits.
Cheryl L.M. Phillips has held the positions of Vice President, Masco Corporation Foundation and Director Global Purchasing for Masco Corporation, a Fortune 250 Corporation with annual sales in excess of $8.1 billion. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in business from Madonna University and received her MBA from Eastern Michigan University.
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