Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Dog Named Slugger - Leigh Brill

A Dog Named Slugger
Leigh Brill
Bell Bridge Books
Copyright: 2010

The amazon.com product description:
The true life story of a dog who changed everything for one woman. For the first time in my life, I didn't need to pretend, I didn't need to be tough: I only needed to be honest. "I have cerebral palsy. I walk funny and my balance is bad. I fall a lot. My hands shake, too. That means I'm not so good at carrying things. And if I drop stuff, sometimes it's hard to just bend down and get it." I waited anxiously for the interviewer's response. She smiled. "It sounds like a service dog could be great for you." So began Leigh Brill's journey toward independence and confidence, all thanks to a trained companion dog named Slugger. The struggling college student and the Labrador with a "a coat like sunshine" and a tail that never stopped wagging became an instant team. Together, they transformed a challenge into a triumph. Together, they inspired and educated everyone they met. Now, Leigh honors her friend with the story of their life, together.
 A Dog Named Slugger was sent to me for review purposes. Right off the top, I'll admit that I'm a sucker for animal stories, which is why I accepted it in the first place. This isn't the first book I've read about service dogs either. There's one I read years ago that I'm currently trying to find the title to. But, based on that, I knew I'd be interested in this one.

The book tells of the author's college years up to the present as she makes her way in life with cerebral palsy, as she discovers the help that a service dog could provide. At the same time it's the story of a remarkable dog's life and the changes he makes in her life. That dog was a golden lab called Slugger. From the simple things he was trained to do: helping her balance, picking up dropped items to more incredible and spontaneous ones like helping others around her and fending off a burglar.

Unfortunately dogs' lives are so much shorter than ours. At the end of the book I was sitting there with tears running down my face. At the same time, I'd known that was how it was going to be - most animal stories of this sort end that way, and I was glad I'd read the book. Now I'm recommending it, and recommending it strongly.

Everyone knows about guide dogs for the blind, but other types of service dogs are still less well recognized and I hope that Slugger will help to change that. This book is certainly well suited for readers from twelve to a hundred and twelve.

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