“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
So. It’s the month of luuuurv again, and who better demonstrates unconditional, loyal love than our furry four-legged friends?
Everyone who’s ever loved a dog knows what a unique blessing they are. But in the following four TRUE stories, you’ll meet dogs who take that up a notch:
“I needed a companion who had no judgment, with whom I had no history, who would make it known that I was loved, who would never, ever hurt me.” — Dog Medicine
Dog Medicine is Julie Barton’s memoir of the ticking time bomb golden retriever puppy that saved her life.
After graduating from college and going through several abusive and disastrous relationships (including a seriously dysfunctional, Julie sank into a horrific depression so severe that her parents had to take her home with them and even physically carry her outdoors sometimes in order for her to get some sun.
It wasn’t until Julie got a puppy she named Bunker that her life and mental health slowly started to improve. She got herself together and moved in with friends who loved having Bunker around. But Julie was still being haunted by her past and her own bad decision-making, and then she discovered that Bunker had something majorly wrong with him…
This memoir resonated with me from the moment I read it. I suppose it’s because in some ways, I’m a little like Julie, although, of course, the details are all different. But even if you have nothing in common with her, this book is a heartwarming story of the healing power of loving and being loved by a dog. If you like dog memoirs but haven’t yet read this one, put it on your list 🙂
Rescuing Penny Jane by Amy Sutherland
“Random events, coincidences, can suddenly make you realize you need a dog” — Rescuing Penny Jane
Rescuing Penny Jane is the story of one dog shelter volunteer and the various furry adoptees she meets.
In this book, author Amy Sutherland describes her experiences as a dog-walker for a local kennel, how she and the other kennel volunteers worked with abused and damaged dogs, plus the stories of the different dogs she and her family has raised, including the eponymous Penny Jane, a troubled rescue dog with so many issues, she nearly wrecked Sutherland’s marriage.
Sutherland intersperses her story with nonfiction factoids about everything shelter-dog: How the no-kill movement began, how many dogs are in the shelter system, and other dog-related laws, statistics, and interesting tidbits.
(To be honest, I was far more interested in the stories and the profiles of Sutherland’s dogs than I was interested in the nonfiction sections, but those who are more research-minded may find those bits interesting).
But in the end, this is a book about a human (several humans) who loved and love injured dogs and how their care and sacrifices for their furry friends enriched their lives and made them better people.
Rescue Road by Peter Zheutlin
“No one’s job is any more important than anyone else’s. It takes a hundred people playing their roles to save a dog…That’s why I thank each adopter for saving a life.” — Rescue Road
Until I read Rescue Road, I had no idea that there were massive organizations like the one Zheutlin shadowed, dedicated to transporting dogs cross country so that they could have a chance at life.
In this book, journalist Peter Zheutlin tags along with a dog transport crew specialising in driving stray dogs from south to north, in search of better lives and homes. He tells the stories of several dogs who join him on the journey — dogs who were abused, neglected, but ultimately rescued — and the stories of the people who did the rescuing and the adopting.
I read this book at a time when I was looking for a dog to rescue, and although I don’t live in the South or the East, it was sobering and inspiring to read about the network of caring people who donate so much time and money and effort to give unwanted dogs a chance for a better life.
Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan
“When he lay beside me with his dog-breath sighs, it was if he was saying, Give me your sadness. I will take it, as much as you need. If it kills us both, so be it. I am here.” — Until Tuesday
Until Tuesday is a fascinating memoir about a soldier suffering from PTSD and the trained companion dog, named Tuesday, who changed his life. Montalvan tells his own and Tuesday’s stories in alternating chapters, going all the way back to Tuesday’s puppyhood, and Montalvan’s own pre-war days.
Montalvan really did his homework on service and therapy dogs. Even though he wasn’t there for Tuesday’s early life, he describes the golden retriever’s early years almost as if he was. I must confess, I focused on the dog’s history and skipped/skimmed Montalvan’s own story.
I was fascinated by how much thought and effort and time and training it takes to train a dog who can help a veteran, the things the dogs have to go through, the skills they have to learn…if you’ve ever wondered what life is like behind the scenes with a service dog, this book is for you 🙂