Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle

4.5 103
by Brian Dennis, Mary Nethery, Kirby Larson

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Nubs, an Iraqi dog of war, never had a home or a person of his own. He was the leader of a pack of wild dogs living off the land and barely surviving. But Nubs's life changed when he met Marine Major Brian Dennis. The two formed a fast friendship, made stronger by Dennis's willingness to share his meals, offer a warm place to sleep, and give Nubs the kind of care and


Nubs, an Iraqi dog of war, never had a home or a person of his own. He was the leader of a pack of wild dogs living off the land and barely surviving. But Nubs's life changed when he met Marine Major Brian Dennis. The two formed a fast friendship, made stronger by Dennis's willingness to share his meals, offer a warm place to sleep, and give Nubs the kind of care and attention he had never received before. Nubs became part of Dennis's human "pack" until duty required the Marines to relocate a full 70 miles away--without him. Nubs had no way of knowing that Marines were not allowed to have pets.

So began an incredible journey that would take Nubs through a freezing desert, filled with danger to find his friend and would lead Dennis on a mission that would touch the hearts of people all over the world.

Nubs and Dennis will remind readers that friendship has the power to cross deserts, continents, and even species.

Editorial Reviews

Nubs was a homeless mutt, a mongrel victim of the Iraqi war and the leader of a pack of wild dogs scavenging garbage heaps for survival. That dicey life changed with his first encounter with Marine Major Brian Dennis. Soldier and canine quickly formed a strong bond, giving Nubs not only much-needed food and shelter but also affection. That respite ended when duty called and Major Dennis was assigned to a post 70 miles away and ordered to leave without Nubs. This is story of how Nubs countermanded that order and reunited with his kind protector. An inspiring gift for anyone who believes in the power of a dog's love.
Publishers Weekly
Larson and Nethery, who collaborated on Two Bobbies, team up with Dennis to tell the moving story of the Marine major’s friendship with a wild dog he befriended at a border fort in Iraq. Dennis named the dog Nubs because his “ears had been cut off to make him a dog of war” (a statement never explained). Though Nubs futilely attempts to follow Dennis when he departs the fort, the two grow closer on subsequent visits, until the dog (now wounded) treks 70 miles through the snow to find Dennis. When the major is ordered to “get rid of the dog, or else,” he raises money to have Nubs transported to his San Diego hometown, where human and dog eventually reunite. Some spreads feel cluttered with narrative passages, e-mail sidebars, and multiple images; the photographs, gleaned from several sources, are of varying quality and resolution (understandable given the circumstances under which most were taken). But these do not diminish the emotional impact of the saga, which should appeal to fans of Owen and Mzee and other stories of animals that triumph against the odds. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Kris Sauer
This story is one to warm your heart! Marine Major Brian Dennis is leading a Border Transition Team platoon to a fort in the desert of western Iraq in late 2007 when an earless dog befriends him. Since the team is there to help train Iraqi soldiers across the area, they soon pack up and move on. Nubs, the name given the dog by Major Dennis, chased after the Humvees with his pack but soon lost the soldiers in the desert. Months later, Dennis's team returns and Nubs is there to greet him. This time, upon the unit's departure, Nubs is determined not to be left behind. Despite an injury that left him weak, and in spite of the winter weather and rough terrain, Nubs tracks Dennis seventy miles from Iraq to the Jordanian border. Although the Marines are not allowed to have pets, Dennis and his team take in this amazing dog and give him a home at Command Outpost. Word soon reaches Dennis's superiors and he is given an order to get rid of the dog within four days. What ensues is yet another amazing odyssey as Dennis solicits family and friends, raising enough money to send Nubs home to San Diego, California. Actual photographs of Nubs and Dennis in Iraq help tell the tale, along with snippets of Dennis's emails back home. In a time of war, this book tells a story of hope, of how an act of kindness is never forgotten. A great read-aloud, this could easily supplement classroom discussion of current events, or help a class with personal connections discuss and find hope in the continuing events occurring in Iraq. Reviewer: Kris Sauer
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—A true story of a feral dog from Iraq that found a home in the United States. In October 2007, Border Transition Team 3/5/2 arrived at the border of Iraq and Syria. The team members were greeted by a pack of wild dogs, whose leader became known as "Nubs" because of his docked ears. He developed a bond with Dennis, and as the troops would come and go over the course of several weeks, they were always greeted by the dogs. Nubs exhibited signs of malnutrition and abuse yet he continued to seek food and companionship from the Marines, often trying to follow them when they'd leave. In December 2007, when they relocated to the Jordanian border, 70 miles away, he embarked on a treacherous journey across the desert and, two days later, walked into the camp. Because Marine regulations prohibit the keeping of pets in a war zone, Major Dennis and his men collected donations and arranged to send Nubs to the United States. He was eventually reunited with the dog in 2008. The narrative, which sometimes lacks clarity, includes a substantial amount of original documentation—photos taken by members of the 3/5/2, emails from Dennis to his friends in San Diego, and copies of the State Department "passport" allowing Nubs to travel. This is a feel-good entry in the current trend of inspirational true animal stories.—Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Major Dennis discovered Nubs, a mongrel with hacked-off ears, at a border fort in Iraq while serving there in the Marine Corps. Although he visited the fort infrequently and stayed only a few days at a time, Dennis and the feral dog bonded as the soldier shared his food and bed with the loyal animal. Often they even stood guard duty together. One winter day, when the Marines traveled 70 miles north across the frigid desert to headquarters, Nubs followed, arriving there, thin and footsore, two days later. Determined not to leave him behind again, the Marines adopted him, and eventually Dennis raised the money to have Nubs shipped back to America. Few will not be moved by the concluding photograph. Told in brief text augmented by Dennis's facsimile e-mails and illustrated with clear color photos, this story presents a view of the Iraq war that makes it accessible to very young gradeschoolers, a welcome addition to collections serving that audience and especially useful for children of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Informational picture book. 5-12)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Hachette Digital, Inc.
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44 MB
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Age Range:
3 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Brian Dennis is the major in the Marines. He and Nubs live in San Diego.

Kirby Larson is the acclaimed author of the 2007 Newbery Honor book, Hattie Big Sky. Her most recent title is Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival, co-written with Mary Nethery. Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington.

Mary Nethery is the author of many picture books, including Hannah and Jack, Mary Veronica's Egg, andOrange Cat Goes to Market.Mary lives in Eureka, California.

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Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
nanaynijamie More than 1 year ago
Sgt. Brian Dennis' mom summed it up great... "I think Brian is Nub's guardian angle and Nub is his". A touching story on how a dog trekked more than 70 miles in 2 days, battling freezing temperatures, so he could reunite with his new found friend. Marine rules state you cannot have pets so Sgt. Dennis fronted a crusade to have his dog flown home to California. A once wild dog roaming the deserts in Iraq is now able to live the good life with his best friend. Highly recommended, fantastic pictures and includes several outtakes from Sgt. Dennis personal diary highlighting this wonderful story.
Lucilletln More than 1 year ago
Wonderful true story about a dog in Iraq and how loyal he was to his American military master--walking miles to follow his adopted master "home." I bought this book for my 8 year next door neighbor and also for my 28 year old daughter for Christmas and age was no object. Perfect read for any age. Also, it became a read out loud feel good story @ Christmas dinner table. My advice --buy it!
LegalBeagle More than 1 year ago
Every so often a true story comes along that stops you in your tracks because it is that incredible! Nubs The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery is one of these stories. When Nubs, a painfully thin stray and abused Iraqi dog whose ears had been severed, befriended Major Brian Dennis in an Iraqi dessert outpost both lives (dog and human) changed. Nubs earned his name because Major Dennis noted, "his ears look like little 'nubs.'" Nubs and Major Dennis formed an instant bond with shared MRE's (Meals-Ready- to-Eat); and belly rubs. However, the pair had to separate frequently as Major Dennis was assigned to other forts and Marines were not allowed have pets. Each time Major Dennis left the Iraqi outpost Nubs tried to follow the Marine convey, but couldn't keep up. And each time Major Dennis returned to the outpost he looked for Nubs. Unfortunately, the conditions were quite harsh and Nubs suffered injuries and lost weight, but he always perked up when Major Dennis returned. After the final time Major Dennis left the outpost, Nubs was determined to follow him. And follow him he did - over seventy miles of adverse conditions, until two days later he found Major Dennis. It was both a miracle that he survived the journey and a miracle that he found Major Dennis. But the biggest miracle of all was that the "dog of war chose to become a dog of peace." Deeply moved by Nubs' devotion Major Dennis decided to ship Nubs to San Diego and keep him. This is where Major Dennis's devotion to Nubs came through as he overcame financial and logistical obstacles to ship him to the United States. Today Nubs and Major Dennis live a busy life filled with walks, hikes and swimming at the dog beach. The story of Nubs is a heartwarming and beautifully photographed children's book that both young and old will love! I know I did! (This review is based on a borrowed library book.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a such duch cute little story and heart worming you must read such such a cute little story
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Here is a true story that will make you smile, warm your heart, and again remind you of the indefatigable power of love. Yes, even in war love overcomes. Today he is known by thousands but not too long ago a scraggly, skinny mutt barely survived on the desert. "His ears had been cut off to make him a dog of war." He was the leader off a pack of wild dogs, and had no name. And then one day a trio of military vehicles carrying Major Brian Dennis and his ten marines arrived at the desert fort. The other dogs, hoping for food, scrambled to meet the soldiers but one dog, the one without ears went to Dennis who bent down to meet him. Somehow, for whatever reason, the man and the dog bonded. Dennis called the dog Nubs because that's what was left of his ears looked like, and that evening they shared a meal - spaghetti, Cajun beans, and rice plus a strawberry Pop-Tart for dessert. That might not be canine cuisine but it was undoubtedly the best meal Nubs had ever eaten. When it was Dennis's turn for guard duty that night Nubs stayed right beside him. But the next day the soldiers left. Nubs chased them for more than a mile but couldn't begin to catch up. Once again Nubs was alone, fighting to not only keep his place in the pack but foraging for food, and trying to stay warm in the winter's intense cold. Weeks later the three vehicles carried the soldiers back to the fort and Brian and Nubs were reunited. But again they left and upon returning found Nubs weak with a severe wound in his side. The men doctored the dog as best they could. Finally Dennis and his men left one more time heading for the Command Outpost on the Jordanian border. It would seem that Dennis and Nubs had said their final goodbyes. Readers of all ages will be touched by the story of Nubs who while a small, scruffy mutt had the heart of a lion. - Gail Cooke
Jbbrjo More than 1 year ago
As grandparents we thought this was a wonderful story. We heard about it on a late night talk show. We sent it to our grandchildren for mommy to share the story with them. I guess she thought it was not appropriate (about nubs ears) so they did not share any of it. This is really too bad! Now we wish we had the book back...we loved it, and would have found a way to tell the story without mentioning the ears. The part about how far this canine travelled to find his 'master' is incredible. This is one of our favorite stories and hope to share it when the grandchildren are older. It touched our hearts, and caused us to tear up. We need more books like this in our society.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book for children and adults. This is a heart warming story about a dog and a Marine that found each other in Iraq. When separated Nubs (the dog) traveled 70 miles to be with his new best friend. The story continues with the tribulations to get Nubs back to the U,S. Nubs is now home in San Diego with his buddy for life. A must read for children of 3 years and up if they love animals. The book also provides lessons in compassion and companionship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book,I bought seven copies for Christmas gifts and all seven loved it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very sad but, a heart touching story i loved this story:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely wonderful story which brought tears to my eyes as I read this book to my middle school students. Not very often can you find a nonfiction picture book that captivates middle school boys and girls! Often use picture books as read alouds to prompt writing or use as mini-lessons for teaching story elements, etc. This book touched all who heard this tale of commitment and true compassion between a marine and the dog who adopted him! Use of actual photos intrigued and created heartfelt "Ahhhs". Thanks for sharing your story, Brian Dennis and Nubs! Something so touching from a war torn land! Some proceeds for ASPCA-quite honorable! But what else would you expect from a Marine!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I saw the story on a late night talk show I had to get the book. I got this for my grandchildren. I am teaching my youngest grandson 16 months old the value of owning a pet and I have 3 dogs that he enjoys and this story was the best and I am so glad that Nubs has a forever home.
LadybugLibrarianCA More than 1 year ago
As an elementary school librarian, I read this to all classes, grades 3-6. They all loved it. The fact that it is a true story thrilled all of us. We learned much about the conditions that soldiers face in the Middle East. Congratulations on a book that held our interest and a story with an inspiring theme: a dog of war becomes a dog of peace when touched by kindness!!!
jbm More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and think it belongs in our family library!
gjo50 More than 1 year ago
Nubs was a wild dog in Iraq that found Major Brian Dennis, and found a life long friend. After Nubs followed Dennis 70 miles to another post, Dennis began making moves to keep him. When military rules prevented Dennis from keeping him on base, Dennis began the process to bring him to the States. Now, Nubs lives with Dennis in California.   This is a great, heart-tugging story. Everyone will love reading about this determined, loyal dog that makes an incredible journey. This book is in my elementary school library, and every time a student returns it, they declare it a wonderful story. The reading level is probably higher second grade, but the story is easily understood by all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book ia a must buy. I remember reading it when i was much younger it is so touching. I love it so u must buy it
CourtneyBoulware More than 1 year ago
Amazing! Such unconditional love! Anyone who has ever had a pet, or thought of getting one, will fall in love with this story! I recommend this book for all ages!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Turtle cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze freindship nubs. My dog eats nubs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it :) :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DawnFinBlackMtnNC More than 1 year ago
I bought this for my 13-year-old son not realizing it was a short story; however, he LOVED the book and especially the photos included with the minimal text. While I feel this is only a little more than a "picture book" for young readers, it did have enough story to it to keep my 13-year-old engaged; and moved. We would buy other stories about Nubs!
kat808gryl More than 1 year ago
Amazing story n very touching. My 7year old came home frm school one day saying how much she just loved this story that her teacher read to the class in honor of Veteran's Day so I just had to get it for her as a Christmas gift. She was absolutely thrilled n has read it over n over several times already. Definitely would recommend this for others to read :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lov it but made me a little.sad ::( :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago