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Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me…

Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion

by Jon Katz

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In this heartfelt, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz tells the story of his beloved rescue donkey, Simon, and the wondrous ways that animals make us wiser and kinder people.

My Thoughts:

I usually don't read books like this but my mother read it and assured me the ending would be okay and Simon would be happy. Mom was right...it is indeed a marvelous work of nonfiction. A chronicle of merged existence and self discovery showing that broken pieces coming together can mend holes and hearts. From the first wrenching paragraph through recovery, familiarization, cohabitation, loss, gain, and healing this story while short in size makes your heart swell. This goes beyond showing us the impact one animal can have on it's owner, and instead shows how all animals, both hearty and frail can create a web that captures all who come near. This is a very touching story of a badly neglected donkey that is in need of saving. The story of Simon's journey and the relationship he built with the author are worth the read. Anyone who loves animals will understand the bonds that are formed in the book. Simon's story is on Youtube. For those that might care to see how he has progressed the site is www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdDY6bcdow ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Having already read another of Jon Katz' books ("The Second-chance Dog") and being a regular reader of his blog, I knew, pretty much, that I would appreciate this book.

Katz is not a sappy sweet author as far as his works go, but is practical, informative, and just a little bit mystic about his subjects. "Saving Simon" was no exception, and the author's journalism background showed in his writing as well.

I liked how the author's thoughts on compassion was explored, and it made me contemplate some on how I (and all of us) define compassion, and apply it in our own lives.

Note: if you don't handle death and animal cruelty well, you might not like reading this work. It is not graphic or gratuitous about sensitive issues, but some might not be comfortable with Jon Katz' practical thoughts on animals' suffering. ( )
  fuzzi | Dec 21, 2014 |
Although, or perhaps because, I am an animal lover, I often avoid books, especially nonfiction, centering on animals. They are too hard to read, and too often, I just don't “get” some of the author's attitudes.

However, I gave in to temptation and read this book about saving Simon, a donkey left to die.

Of course, the rescue part was so hard to read – the horrible conditions from which Simon was rescued. But I expected that. What I did not expect, but perhaps should have because of past reading experiences, were the attitudes and voice of the author.

For me, I loved that Simon was rescued and that he was given a good life. But the author, especially in the last half of the book where he wrote more about compassion, became a little too sanctimonious for my tastes, a little too preachy.

Okay, he took care of a rescued donkey, Great! But on multiple occasions, he and his wife “often” took back to a neighbor their dog that would chew through its tether while it was tethered outside, 24x7, rain, snow. Couldn't this compassionate person find a better solution, since he claims to care about the well-bring of animals, than taking it back to the owner to be tied up again? (By the way, I wish authors, professional writers, would learn the difference between “bring” and “take.”)

He denigrates animals rescuers who have denigrated him on his blog because of some of his actions. He doesn't understand why these people seem more judgmental, less compassionate of humans than of animals. He doesn't seem to understand that humans have CHOICE that the animals in their care do not.

If someone is responsible for an animal, but puts it to suffer and die out of sight just so they don't have to look at it while it is dying, dang right I am going to judge that person. That person had a choice; the animal did not. The one who eventually did the right thing was a child.

The author was responsible for a blind pony being shocked by an electrical fence he turned on, and yet his rage goes towards the animal that attacked the pony, the animal that was just being an animal and protecting what he considered his.

“I was furious. I felt nothing but rage for [the animal]....”

“Sometimes, he thought, I am ashamed to be a human.”

Yeah, me too.

He knows how many dogs need to be adopted, how many languish or die in shelters, yet he has an excuse for buying from a breeder. Really?

While many will probably love this book, it upset me more than it pleased me, and I'm going back to avoiding most animal books.

I was given a copy of this book for review. ( )
1 vote TooBusyReading | Dec 9, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345531191, Hardcover)

In this heartfelt, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz tells the story of his beloved rescue donkey, Simon, and the wondrous ways that animals make us wiser and kinder people.
In the spring of 2011, Jon Katz received a phone call that would challenge every idea he ever had about mercy and compassion. An animal control officer had found a neglected donkey on a farm in upstate New York, and she hoped that Jon and his wife, Maria, would be willing to adopt him. Jon wasn’t planning to add another animal to his home on Bedlam Farm, certainly not a very sick donkey. But the moment he saw the wrenching sight of Simon, he felt a powerful connection. Simon touched something very deep inside of him. Jon and Maria decided to take him in.
Simon’s recovery was far from easy. Weak and malnourished, he needed near constant care, but Jon was determined to help him heal. As Simon’s health improved, Jon would feed him by hand, read to him, take him on walks, even confide in him like an old and trusted friend. Then, miraculously, as if in reciprocation, Simon began to reveal to Jon the true meaning of compassion, the ways in which it can transform our lives and inspire us to take great risks.
This radically different perspective on kindness and empathy led Jon to a troubled border collie from Ireland in need of a home, a blind pony who had lived outside in a pasture for fifteen years, and a new farm for him and Maria. In the great tradition of heroes—from Don Quixote to Shrek—who faced the world in the company of their donkeys, Jon came to understand compassion and mercy in a new light, learning to open up “not just to Simon, not just to animals, but to the human experience. To love, to risk, to friendship.”
With grace, warmth, and keen emotional insight, Saving Simon plumbs the depths of the bonds we form with our animals, and the rewards of “living a more compassionate, considered, and meaningful life.”
Praise for Jon Katz
“With wisdom and grace, Katz unlocks the canine soul and the complicated wonders that lie within and offers powerful insights to anyone who has ever struggled with, and loved, a troubled animal.”—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me
“Katz’s world—of animals and humans and their combined generosity of spirit—is a place you’re glad you’ve been.”The Boston Globe
“From Toto to Marley, our canine friends are a sure bet in the literary biz. But no one seems to speak their language like Jon Katz.”San Antonio Express-News
“Katz proves himself a Thoreau for modern times as he ponders the relationships between man and animals, humanity and nature.”Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“I toss a lifetime award of three liver snaps to Jon Katz.”—Maureen Corrigan, National Public Radio’s Fresh Air

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:51 -0400)

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