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Dogs and Underdogs: Finding Happiness at Both Ends of the Leash (2015)

by Elizabeth Abbott

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1121,751,168 (3.5)1
Happiness and redemption can be found at both ends of the leash, in all kinds of places Elizabeth Abbott had always been an animal lover, sharing her life with all kinds of dogs in need. But when worlds collided and her beloved dog Tommy was left behind in Haiti, a new journey began--one that would take her to some very surprising places and ultimately teach her some essential truths about the power of hope and redemption. From the soulless concrete corridors of an American prison to the halls of a Canadian hospital to life among the ruins in post-war Serbia, Abbott meets people whose lives are changed forever by a wagging tail and a pair of soulful eyes--and dogs who find a new lease on life with devoted human companions. Throughout Dogs and Underdogs, Abbott shares her own incredible and often amusing stories of rescuing dogs in need of shelter, friendship, and love: devoted Tommy, the inspiration who began it all; irrepressible Bonzi, the beagle who charmed his way into prisoners' hearts; sweet Alice, the little mama who survived a puppy mill to be "mothered" by other dogs; and many more. With wit and passion, Abbott digs down into the deepest roots of the human-animal bond, showing us that together people and dogs can find hope and happiness.… (more)
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I received an ARC through Goodreads.
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Wow, just wow! Such an inspirational memoir. The unwavering devotion and unconditional love of a beloved pet inspires countless people to go above and beyond, sometimes moving mountains to do what it takes to save and protect their beloved pets.

Getting a chance to read about the horrors and neglect that the dogs that Elizabeth has encountered, it's hard not to get emotional, especially when you read about the dogs' happy endings after a harsh start to life. There are a lot of amazing people out there, who's tireless efforts (rescuing every animal they can from being slaughtered or put down for being unadoptable), for deserves huge recognition for everything they have done and what they have sacrificed.

Every pet (cat, dog, doesn't matter) deserves a second, third and countless chances at happiness. After all, they don't let their past or disabilities get them down once they find their forever home or chance at redemption. Just like Bonzi, Pochi, and so many others to name.

Reading this book was heart-warming and heart wrenching, and it has certainly opened my eyes to the greater world of adopting and volunteering. At the end of the day, it makes me want to hug my dog even closer and savour every moment we have. ( )
  Dream24 | Jan 6, 2016 |
I received this book as a First Reads via Goodreads in exchange for a complete unbiased review.

This started off as a heartwarming memoir of life of a woman and the dogs she lost. The author explained how as a child she wished for dog, but her parents wouldn't allow it. Once an adult Abbott had plenty of dogs, some more special that others, and she explored the life as a dog owner/parent (which ever you prefer). It is because of this memoir style beginning I give this book a three star: the writing is phenomenal, the stories tug the heart strings and the dogs come to life on the page. How many of us have had dogs that have impressed upon our hearts for the rest of our lives because of their bravery, uncompromising love and loyalty?

Unfortunately the book doesn't continue in that direction. I have had extremely negative experiences with rescue organizations in the area that Abbott describes. When I was younger and my then long term partner and I wanted to get our first family dog. The rescues pointed out insulting things such as: lower than desired income, not married, living in an apartment, me being a full-time student. Many passages in this book lit me with fury: the children of the possible adopters who were horrified when the dog had diarrhea on the deck (they're children!), the distaste for a lower income man who could not afford to retrieve both of his dogs from the pound and chose only one, and the glorification of all rescue efforts. The world is much more complex than this short book realizes.

Rescues are a wonderful idea, filled with people who love animals to attempt to find them a home with a suitable family. Unfortunately, my own experiences have made me bitter to the rescues in my area which in turn made reading this book less enjoyable. The dogs my now ex-boyfriend purchased because we were considered unsuitable for pet ownership are beautiful, lively Border-Aussies who are loved and spoiled by their one owner. My dogs are my children, my family, regardless of whether I am married, have high income or how angry they make me (because they do!).

However, regardless of the content regarding rescues, the memoir of a woman who went from her first dog to finding meaning in life by helping other creatures is one that I enjoyed. I thank Elizabeth for sharing her own personal stories of her dogs, immortalizing them as I wish I could do for my own. I also enjoyed learning about the Serbian street dogs and the efforts in their own home countries.

This is a book that will appeal to dog lovers, rescue believers, memoir enthusiasts, those who just like a good cry (Tommy! What a sad story!) and those of us who like pretty pictures to put names to the human and furry faces featured in the stories. ( )
  trigstarom | Sep 19, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one's soul remains unawakened.

Anatole France
Dedication
To my brother, Steve Abbott, for a lifetime of
friendship and shared animal loving

To all the dogs (and cats) I've loved, who are the
reason this book could be written. They have filled
my heart and expanded it to include all animals.

And to Bonzi, Petey, and Poppy, and Snoopy
and Chanel, who bless my life today.

And to the rescue community, those tireless women
and men who save, nurture, transport, and find
homes for needy animals, giving them that second
chance that makes all the difference in the world.
First words
If someone had told me thirty-five years ago that a dog would alter the course of my life forever, I would have shaken my head and laughed.
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Happiness and redemption can be found at both ends of the leash, in all kinds of places Elizabeth Abbott had always been an animal lover, sharing her life with all kinds of dogs in need. But when worlds collided and her beloved dog Tommy was left behind in Haiti, a new journey began--one that would take her to some very surprising places and ultimately teach her some essential truths about the power of hope and redemption. From the soulless concrete corridors of an American prison to the halls of a Canadian hospital to life among the ruins in post-war Serbia, Abbott meets people whose lives are changed forever by a wagging tail and a pair of soulful eyes--and dogs who find a new lease on life with devoted human companions. Throughout Dogs and Underdogs, Abbott shares her own incredible and often amusing stories of rescuing dogs in need of shelter, friendship, and love: devoted Tommy, the inspiration who began it all; irrepressible Bonzi, the beagle who charmed his way into prisoners' hearts; sweet Alice, the little mama who survived a puppy mill to be "mothered" by other dogs; and many more. With wit and passion, Abbott digs down into the deepest roots of the human-animal bond, showing us that together people and dogs can find hope and happiness.

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