Book reviews: Dogs work their magic in two books from Ebury Press
Meet a remarkable dog with the power to heal a broken life, and get expert advice on choosing your perfect puppy in two beautiful new books from Ebury Press.
A Dog Like Lloyd by Jacqueline Sheehan
Roxanne Pellegrino has lost the thing that was most important to her… her beloved 42-year-old husband Bob.
So where do you go from here, how do you cope with death of the person you love most in the world and ‘the terror of being left behind’?
US author and essayist Jacqueline Sheehan is no stranger to death… her father died suddenly when she was nine years old and after studying grief during her degree in psychology, she knows just how far off centre a bereavement can blow us.
‘Death,’ she tells her readers, ‘is a major character’ in this book, but that does not mean this extraordinary novel of love, loss, mourning and recovery is simply a bleak and depressing account of a devastating death and its repercussions.
Because the other leading player in Roxanne’s journey from mourning to acceptance is a dog – a big, beautiful black Labrador to be precise – the canine catalyst for self-discovery, new beginnings and the healing of a broken life.
Roxanne Pellegrino’s world collapses when her husband Bob, a vet, dies from a massive heart attack at their home in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. The day had started so unconsciously, so automatically, and now it had ‘torn apart and left her bleeding.’
The only way she feels she can deal with her all-consuming grief is to run away from her life. So she leaves her home, her career as a psychologist and her friends, and heads off for Peaks Island, a tiny speck off the coast of Maine.
She takes a job as an animal control warden, moves into a rundown cottage and reinvents her past so it does not include the tragedy of Bob’s death. But despite Roxanne’s best efforts to cut herself off from her emotions and people in general, she finds herself drawn to her quirky neighbours.
And then Roxanne finds Lloyd, a stray dog, a large black Labrador retriever who has an arrow is his shoulder and clearly has been woefully mistreated. She thinks of just fostering him but he gives her the ‘the look’ and it’s ‘a powerful, mind-altering drug that makes you think you have been personally locked into a soul contract.’
And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded dog. And as both slowly start to heal, Roxanne begins to deal with her grief, unravel the mystery of Lloyd’s previous life and owner, and discover that happiness can be found in unexpected places...
One of the inspirations for this ultimately uplifting story, Sheehan reveals, was the power of dogs to teach humans lessons about ‘loyalty, forgiveness, and the pure joy of revelling in the moment.’
And Lloyd, a symbol of hope and regeneration when life is torn apart, cannot fail to win hearts… but this is a dog who has his own back story to tell, the tale of a troubled owner and an unfolding catalogue of mental illness and abuse.
Together, Roxanne and Lloyd tackle their grief and their losses and learn how to heal themselves whilst Roxanne unravels the mystery of Lloyd’s life with his first owner, and puts her energies into solving problems and forging friendships with her new neighbours.
Inspirational, entertaining, heartwarming, and with elements of mystery and danger, this is a compelling read for both dog lovers and adventure lovers.
(Ebury, paperback, Â£6.99)
Choosing the Perfect Puppy by Pippa Mattinson
Somewhere out there is the dog of your dreams, says Pippa Mattinson… and she’s probably the best person to help you find your new best friend!
There are over 200 breeds of dogs to choose so deciding which puppy would be right for you is a difficult choice if you are a novice dog owner or looking for a new breed of dog for your family.
Mattinson, already the author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, has won a loyal following with her clear, concise, well-researched and widely praised books and is in touch with over 500,000 dog owners every month through her websites www.thelabradorsite.com and www.thehappypuppysite,com.
And now she is offering her expert advice on everything you need to know if you’re thinking of getting a puppy in a super, glossy book which comes packed with tips, facts, figures and expert advice.
Choosing the Perfect Puppy is the definitive guide… readers learn how to compare pedigree with mixed breeds, find at-a-glance information on the most popular dog breeds in the world, discover the best places to start searching and get help on choosing the right puppy from a litter.
Mattinson’s wise and warm book reminds us just how different things will be when a new puppy arrives. Even the smallest and least demanding of dogs will disrupt your life in ways you could never have imagined.
But even though so much will change, Mattinson assures her readers that those changes should be for the better… and this is much more likely if your puppy is a good match for your family and your lifestyle, both in terms of the dog’s personality and the physical impact on your home.
Not every type of dog is suited to every type of family, and it is always important to remember, she warns, that there are good times and bad times to get a puppy. Always be sure that right here, and right now, is a good time to bring a puppy into your life.
The first few weeks and months are vital if a puppy is to grow into a well-adjusted, healthy and likeable adult dog, and always be aware that life with that adult dog will also be very different to the life you have now.
Mattinson offers plenty of helpful advice on the financial costs of raising a puppy, exercising your dog, the hours in a day when a dog ‘burrows into your heart’ and the emotional cost and demands on your time.
Be aware that some dogs take great pleasure in digging so your garden could end up more like ‘a lunar landscape’ than a pretty place, and indoors dogs, like babies, come with their own paraphernalia such as hair and mess.
If you have never owned a dog before, Mattinson advises, borrow a friend’s for a few days and discover how you feel about its presence, the walks and the care it needs. ‘If more people did this,’ she declares, ‘I am convinced that there would be far fewer dogs in shelters.’
And if you are confident that you are ready for what lies ahead with a puppy in your life, then it’s time to pick up this invaluable book and find that dog of your dreams!
(Ebury, paperback, Â£12.99)