Monday, March 20, 2017

Loyal by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, 2017

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on National Geographic 
This treasury features heartwarming photographs and touching stories of dedicated working dogs who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and proven themselves as true heroes.
This special collection of dog stories and photographs features four-legged heroes who have worked side by side with soldiers, searched the wreckage of natural and man-made disasters, changed families' lives through emotional support, and administered aid around the world and at home in the United States. Heart-warming photographs and touching anecdotes bring to life thirty-eight caring canines who have served the people who mean the most to them, from a German Shepherd who leads a blind man on his marathon training mission to a belly rub-loving Sheltie who supports at-risk youth in the classroom. For anyone who has experienced the extraordinary affection of a dog, 
Loyal is a lasting celebration of the joys of canine companionship.
(160 pages)

I love my dog to pieces, but she is so useless.

That's my main takeaway from Loyal. All of these dogs are so loyal, heroic, and dedicated; they spend the best years of their lives entirely devoted to doing their job and improving lives for the humans around them. In the meanwhile, my boxer Daisy has lived a life of luxury surrounded by fluffy pillows and caresses from humans who homeschool and therefore never leave her alone for more than a few hours at a stretch. Don't get me wrong, Daisy is an amazing dog–she never barks, never growls, never steals from the table, and devotes her life to loving us unconditionally–but she's never provided nearly the level of service that some of these dogs have. I actually think she would have made an amazing therapy dog if we'd ever taken the time to go through the training and testing, but it's too late for my old fur-baby now.

But seriously, the stories in here are just incredible. There are dogs that find trapped victims after earthquakes, docs that monitor their human companions and warn them before they start to have a seizure, dogs that spend their days comforting soldiers with horrible PTSD . . . the list goes on and on. The book packs a lot of stories into its 160-word format, each one taking anywhere from a single two-page spread to about four of them to tell its tale. There are gorgeous pictures of each dog, including several different pictures of the ones whose stories take up more pages, and for many of them there's also an insert that gives some basic information about the personality traits of their breed.

It's a very attractive book, too–rectangular, hard-back, with glossy pages. It would make a great coffee table book, or even more perfect for a vet's office waiting room. The short stories are just the right size for a dog lover to flip through and read one or two while they're waiting to take their own dog in for a check-up.

The big emphasis throughout the book is on dogs who nobody wanted, who were on the shelter list to be put down, who were instead rescued and turned into heroes for the community. I think this is amazing, and it's "show, don't tell" approach to pushing shelter dogs would I'm sure be very convincing for anyone who's on the fence about where to get their next dog. My favorite rehabilitation stories, though, were the ones about the prison programs some counties run: they adopt dogs off of the kill lists at shelters and have the prison inmates train them into model house pets and even service dogs. That's such an amazing way to provide a second chance for the dogs as well as a sense of purpose and inspiration for the inmates, isn't it? I think all prisons should have a program like that!

Basically, this book is exactly what it promises to be: a heartwarming book about dogs whose love for humans makes the world a better place. If you think that sounds like what you're looking for, then I definitely recommend it!

Disclaimer: This is an Amazon affiliate link, and I received a complimentary copy of this novel for the purpose of participating in a TLC Book Tour.


  1. I have a soft spot for those unwanted dogs we find at the shelters! I love that so many of them find not just good, but great homes. The prison program sounds really awesome, and a win/win/win.

    Thank you for being on the tour!

    1. Yes, it's always so heartwarming to hear stories of shelter dogs getting a second chance at life! And thank you, Trish, for enabling me to read such a wonderful book!


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