I start almost every morning with a walk down my dirt road with Belle and Max. Their joie de vivre is palpable. Contagious.
I'm addicted to these walks, to watching my "puppies" greet each new day with passion and energy and optimism.
Max and Belle were both strays who wandered up to strange houses with a dog's pure faith they would be helped. At the time each of them entered our lives, I didn't think I wanted any more dogs. Too expensive, too constraining of our time, too much heartbreak when they die.
Now I give thanks every morning and several times during the day - well, anytime I look into those big brown eyes - that God brought these little black and brown angels into our lives. He knew just what we needed.
He always does. And Max and Belle remind me of that every day.
When I was young, the sight of a stray dog broke my heart. Molded by stories like "Black Beauty", "Old Yeller" and "Call of the Wild", where animals struggle to find a good home, I dreamed that when I grew up, I'd own a ranch where I could take in every stray I found.
Well, I grew up. The cost for housing, food and medical issues alone for that dream to come true snapped me back to reality. It didn't help that I'm allergic to animals. I'd need a fortune just to buy all that Benadryl.
So you can see why I jumped at the chance to review ("read for free") Julie Klam's book Love at First Bark, for the BlogHer Book Club, especially when the subtitle read "How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself".
I know how true that statement is, that dogs can help you save yourself...
Max came along just when my oldest headed off to college and the other two were close on his heels. Did you know that a goofy German Shepherd-Great Dane puppy is very similar to a 4-year-old? Max became my perpetual 4-year-old and eagerly accepted all the baby talk and (s)mothering attention my human kids had outgrown, making my transition to Empty Nest so much easier.
Belle came along just in time to save Max, who was despondent after our old dog Charly's death. She revived the "puppy" in him. (Saving Max = saving me. Thank you, Belle!)
However, except for the first chapter where Julie describes how helping an abandoned pit bull essentially saved her marriage, the rest of the book just relates different dog rescues. It's a good book, peppered with Julie's humor, but it didn't grab me the way I thought it would. It felt passive and inconsistent, sort of rushed.
What keeps it a "good" book in my opinion, and why I believe it's worth reading, is the well-deserved recognition it gives to unsung heroes around the country who are essentially living my dream of helping stray dogs, either through rescues or by adoption or foster care.
Before reading this, I didn't have a clue there were so many organizations (all understaffed and underfunded, of course) and individuals who go miles out of their way to help. Hearing the lengths they go to just to rescue one dog is inspiring. Kudos to Julie and all of the others who do this regularly, who think nothing of adding an incontinent dog to their already large collection of pooches or run through a swamp and duck under a train to help a stray with a jar stuck on its head.
So if you want information about dog rescues or rescuers, I recommend it. But if you're hoping for heartwarming, life-changing stories that send you scrambling for a box of tissue, look somewhere else... after you read the first chapter about Morris the Pit Bull, that is.
Full Disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.