Sunday, December 10, 2017


Title:  Rescued: What Second-Chance Dogs Teach Us About Living with Purpose, Loving with Abandon, and Finding Joy in the Little Things
Author:  Peter Zheutlin
Publication Information:  TarcherPerigee. 2017. 256 pages.
ISBN:  0143131176 / 978-0143131175

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "In the early fall of 2012, after he's been with us nearly four months, our rescue dog Albie and I walked the pin-needle-covered trails of what was fast becoming our special place:  Elm Bank along the Charles River, a forested preserve outside Boston."

Favorite Quote:  "The particulars might vary, but to a person we each felt a deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in being sble to provide love, affection, and a warm place to sleep for a beautiful living creature that, as the famous line in 'Amazing Grace' goes, had once been lost but now was found - a creature that was once abandoned or abused, or had never known a home or human kindness, or that might otherwise have been dispatched from this world without a second thought within the cold concrete walls of a shelter. Now these dogs were free to run through fields or jump into ponds or sit by fires and have their heads gently stroked by someone who loved them."

Rescued is a book by a "dog person" for others who are "dog people." The book is about a love affair with dogs, but not just any dogs. These are rescue dogs, those that have been abandoned, lost, and many times abused. They are in need of loving homes.

Pragmatically, the book provides information on rescue organization and the sad reality of kill shelters. However, information is not at the heart of this book. It is not necessarily an informative call to action, but rather an acknowledgement of those who already understand and are willing participants in this rescue mission. It seeks to inspire by example not necessarily by facts or statistics.

This book is a set of lessons, centered around the joy of rescuing a dog in need and the fact that at times it is unclear who rescues who - human or dog. This book is about the unconditional love that can be found through a pet, particularly one that may not have know love before. The chapter titles pick up on a common phrase or life thought and put it in the context of a dog owner:

  • Settings the world right, one dog at a time
  • Home is where the dog is
  • Life isn't always a beach ... but sometimes it is
  • Dogs will be dogs
  • Walk a mile in their paws

This gives the book a cutsie feel that may not have been the intended effect. Life lessons abound, by all means, but setting them in the midst of cliches seems to draw the power away from the lessons.

To convey its message, the book weaves together a number of stories of owners and the dogs they rescue. The anchor is the author himself and his dogs. However, the book moves back and forth through different scenarios. As such, the emotion of these rescues and the bond that develops between owner and dog becomes a little more distant. The book does not settle into any one story to convey the depth of that emotion.

Interestingly, the book is about the joy and necessity of rescuing these animal. It is about how animals become a part of the family. "But all of this made me realize that dogs, like children, have their challenges and some children, and some dogs, are easier than others ... And just as we don't surrender our children when things veer off course or become challenging, the commitment to a dog, especially one that had to beat long odds just to make it home, ought to run just as deep." At the same time, it is also about a realistic approach. "Allowing our dogs to be dogs means reminding ourselves sometimes that, as much as we love and adore them, and as much as we want to protect them, they are, for better or worse, not children."

The stories in the book are as heartwarming as those eyes on the cover as it spreads its important message of care.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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