Gail Gilmore

My work is mostly inspired by questions of the heart and spirit - the kinds of questions with answers both mercurial and elusive. I'm fascinated by the connections between animals and humans; the concept of destiny; the manifestations of faith; the complexities of forgiveness; and the examination of random points along the messy spectrum of what it is to be human.

I studied psychology as an undergraduate at Wheaton College (Massachusetts), and human development as a graduate student at Boston University and Harvard University. My love for and interest in dogs began when I was very young and far from home, and continues to be nurtured through my  volunteer work with Missing Dogs Massachusetts.


Does saving a life always mean preserving it, or does it sometimes mean letting go? When Gail Gilmore’s beloved dog Chispa is diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, her first instinct is to fight for Chispa’s life; to do everything possible to bring the symptoms of this neurologically debilitating condition under control.


But treatments fail, and Chispa’s symptoms worsen. Faced with many emotionally complicated questions and difficult ethical decisions, Gail repeatedly visits the one place where she believes she might find the spiritual guidance and wisdom needed to make the best choice for Chispa—a tiny, extraordinary church in St. Johnsbury, Vermont called the Dog Chapel. Within the simple beauty of the chapel, its walls deeply layered with overlapping photographs and anonymous notes from thousands of previous visitors to dogs loved and lost, Gail seeks and eventually finds both answers and peace in the wise and loving words of the unknown people she comes to consider her tribe.

A story of unconditional love and devotion, Dog Church is also a story of finding comfort in faith and the ways in which the emotional threads of love and grief can bind complete strangers together for brief moments in time in ways that are ultimately life-changing.

Rainbow Awards Runner Up 2017 Best Lesbian Book

Rainbow Awards Finalist 2017 Best LGBT Non Fiction & Biography/Memoir

"Touching the cord that runs between events that shape us and our relationships with dogs and infused with a sense of marvel at the true and boundless love that they bestow upon us, Dog Church explores the profound sense of loss with which we must contend when a dog passes and the solace to be found in the joy of recalling a relationship which has made us the better for it."  

- Larry Levin, New York Times bestselling author of Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love

"Written with astounding grace and tenderness, Gail Gilmore's Dog Church is a powerful meditation on what it means to be saved by a dog, and what it takes to return that gift in the most trying of times. A beautiful testament to the sacred, healing, and transformational bond between human and canine, Dog Church invites us to find peace in heartbreak and faith in the hereafter, and to look within at our own endless capacity for devotion and love."

- Rita Zoey Chin, author, Let the Tornado Come




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