Monday, September 24, 2012

Heartwarming Animal Stories Review - "Love at First Bark"

For the ninth book in the Heartwarming Animal Stories 2012 Reading Challenge, I chose Love at First Bark by Julie Klam.

This short book (only 173 pages) includes a trio of stories about rescuing dogs. The blurb about the book on the inner cover sounded interesting when I read it at the library:

"Klam chronicles her adventures in finding a home for the world's sweetest pit bull, fostering a photogenic special-needs terrier, and diving under a train to save an injured stray in New Orleans.  

"Along the way, she finds that helping dogs in their fight to survive puts our own problems in perspective, and shows that caring for others, be they canine or human, can sometimes be the best way to care for ourselves.  

"A hilarious and moving testament to the book for anyone whole life has been changed - for the better - by an animal."

Out of the three stories, the one about the pit bull was my favorite one. The author was able to find a foster home for the pit bull after she and her husband found it on a city street tied to a post. Apparently it had been there for hours. Someone had tied and left the dog there.

When they found the pit bull, they noticed that it had cigarette burns on its paws. They speculated that perhaps someone took the dog away from its owner with the hope that someone else would find it and give the dog a new - and better - home.

The second story was about a terrier named Clementine. This story seemed to focus too much on fecally-incontinent dogs and cleaning up after them (both the foster dog as well as the author's own dogs). This, by far, is not what I consider inspiring reading.

The last story - where the author "dives under a train to save an injured stray" - was (in my opinion) more a ploy to get people to read the book than what actually happened. The train car wasn't hooked up to an engine so it wasn't moving at the time nor was it going to go anywhere. Further, no one in the rescue party was able to get the feral dog whose nose/mouth was stuck in a mayonnaise jar.

One thing I did learn in the last story was that black labs or lab mixes are euthanized at a much higher rate at pounds and shelters than lighter-color dogs. I know that happens with cats, but didn't realize it happens with dogs as well.

For a book that is supposed to be "hilarious" I didn't laugh once while reading it. The author's sense of humor and mine certainly are not the same. I found sections of the book to be banal and overly-dramatic; and found myself skimming over a few parts.

I had hoped that the dogs' stories would be more insightful and draw that comparison between their difficult lives and the triviality of some of our problems. However, that didn't happen at the level I expected.

Other books I have read this year that focus on the true stories of animals and/or their human companions have been much more interesting and inspiring. Unfortunately, Love at First Bark isn't one of those books.

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