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Everyone Deserves A Second “Chance” – a book review One Good Dog

Big dogs like Donny are often the last to be adopted.

A book review by volunteer Charlene Proto

It is unfortunately a frequent occurrence that a person or an animal might give an initially poor impression and be forever labeled in one’s mind as “aggressive”, “unsociable”, “incapable of normal interaction.” This negative label may not even be a direct consequence of their actions but of the actions of others who are “like” them. Such is the case with the much maligned Pit Bull breed. What could be a loving, caring pet is often shunned by prospective adoptive parents who have heard horror stories of dog fights and unprovoked attacks on humans by the breed. We give felons a second chance but hapless animals that are often the target of cruel and unscrupulous humans are considered less worthy. Pit Bulls, along with Chihuahuas, are the least adoptable dogs at Heaven Can Wait Society and all other animal rescues. Everyone, canine or human, deserves an opportunity to be their best self once in their life.

Susan Wilson has written a heart-warming novel, One Good Dog, about a situation involving two such needy souls deserving of second chances: one canine and one human. Initially the story focus is on the human, a steely, driven, extremely successful executive. He, his spoiled, selfish daughter and his totally materialistic, social-climbing wife live a life full of luxury but barren of humanity. There is little room in their lives for anything other than getting and possessing. The relationships between the three family members are shallow and loveless. The main character Adam March really never took a moment to examine any of the negatives in his life, being so preoccupied with reaching the next rung on the corporate ladder.

Like Pit bulls, German shepherds such as Buffy can be stereotyped as aggressive.

Of course there has to be a dog in the story but he doesn’t appear until after Adam has experienced a monumental “reversal of fortune”. When Chance, a less than beautiful, dog-fight veteran pit mix, enters the story he does not create an instant transformation or open Adam’s eyes to all he has been missing in life. On the other hand Adam does not create instant love for humans in Chance either. That would be too predictable. The two cross each other’s paths but instant mutual affection does not occur. Both man and dog have been beaten, literally & figuratively, by life. They do not trust; they do not love; they do not care.

Occasional chapters are told in the dog’s voice and are particularly poignant. The conditions the fighting dogs are kept in and the treatment they receive is heart-breaking. There are some humorous passages as Chance on his occasional escapes to freedom carouses in the city just being a dog. As expected the hapless man and the used-up dog do find each other but the path to that union is long, complex and fraught with obstacles. To tell more of their journey would be to spoil a wonderful story.

It would be beyond difficult to read this authentic tale and be able to look away the next time a Pit Bull catches your eye at the shelter. Try and you will hear “Chance’s” voice in your head. Always consider adoption first and never forget “Everyone deserves a second chance”.

Look at this beautiful face. Like the dogs above Jack is looking for his second chance.

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