Weekends with Daisy

Weekends with Daisy

4.5 4
by Sharron Kahn Luttrell

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Currently in development with CBS Films, this is the emotional and uplifting memoir of a woman who became a volunteer trainer for Daisy, a sweet yellow Lab puppy, and her unique relationship with the inmate who is Daisy’s partner in the Prison PUP program.

When Sharron Luttrell, a journalist still deeply mourning the loss of her family dog, found


Currently in development with CBS Films, this is the emotional and uplifting memoir of a woman who became a volunteer trainer for Daisy, a sweet yellow Lab puppy, and her unique relationship with the inmate who is Daisy’s partner in the Prison PUP program.

When Sharron Luttrell, a journalist still deeply mourning the loss of her family dog, found out about a weekend puppy raiser program for a service dog organization, she knew it was just she needed to help her move on. It seemed ideal; pick up a puppy on Friday, return it on Sunday night, get a new puppy each year. No strings attached. Well, it turns out that there were strings – and they tugged at her every Sunday evening when she had to return “her dog” to prison.

This memoir chronicles Sharron’s year co-parenting Daisy, a sweet lab puppy, with Keith, a convicted felon serving a decades-long sentence. As Sharron and Keith develop a rapport based on their brief weekend handovers (an exchange she describes as "divorced parents handing over the kids"), she begins to speculate about what the quiet, gentle Keith could have done to wind up in medium-security prison. When, through an accident of fate, Sharron finally discovers the crime Keith actually committed, she is shaken to her foundation. How can she continue to work with him, knowing what she does? But can she dismiss her personal experience with him, which has been nothing but kind?

Ultimately, she looks to Daisy to pull her through—she must “think like a dog” and react in the present, not the past. Mindful of how much Daisy has taught her in a short time, Sharron can also see how much this special dog has helped Keith learn empathy, remorse, and to face the consequences of his actions. As the two of them work tirelessly to ensure that Daisy passes her final test and fulfills her destiny by becoming a service dog, Sharron tests the limits of her own strength, compassion, and capacity for love.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
After she volunteered as a weekend puppy raiser for the Prison PUP program, Luttrell found herself deeply attached to both Daisy, the yellow lab pup she was tending, and Keith, the inmate training Daisy as a service dog. A CBS Films adaptation is in the works; with a 75,000-copy first printing.
Publishers Weekly
Having lost her longtime pet dog, Massachusetts journalist Luttrell volunteers to help train service dogs on the weekends; the rest of the week, the animals are taught by inmates as part of the Prison PUP program. She hits the jackpot with the second dog assigned to her—Daisy, an affable yellow Labrador puppy. Even as Luttrell struggles to follow the program’s guidelines and not simply play with Daisy, the connection she and her family form with the dog creates a complicated tension. On the one hand, keeping Daisy would be a dream come true, but that could only happen if Daisy flunked out of the National Education for Assistance Dog Services program. That failure would not only tear at Luttrell, but would be devastating to Keith, the inmate responsible for Daisy on weekdays. This moving warts-and-all narrative explores themes of redemption, as Luttrell struggles to reconcile the Keith she knows through the dog-training program and the man responsible for the crime that landed him behind bars for decades. The author’s empathy is impressive given her own troubled past; she relates those struggles, as well as her rocky relationship with her teenage daughter, with candor that will win over readers generally left cold by animal books. (Sept.)
Mail Online
“Daisy not only helped Luttrell focus and learn how to diffuse tensions with her teenage children, the adorable yellow Labrador also helped her see how dogs can transform the lives of the inmates who train them and the people they go on to serve.”
Kirkus Reviews
Former journalist Luttrell had yet to find a replacement for a much-loved dog when a chance encounter with a service dog–in-training in a local supermarket changed her life. The author describes how she mourned the loss of her dog and anxiously anticipated empty-nest syndrome as her two children approached college age. The young man leading the dog was a weekend volunteer with the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, an organization that places puppies in prisons. Specially selected inmates raise the dogs and train them for a wide range of tasks: turning on lights, pushing elevator buttons, alerting the hearing impaired to alarms, acting as a companion to autistic children and more. During the week, the dogs share a cell with their handlers, but on weekends, they are housed with volunteers who introduce them to more challenging, chaotic environments such as shopping malls and city streets. Luttrell relates her decision to embark on the program with support from her husband and children. Daisy was introduced into the family, and, over the next 16 months, morphed from an adorable Lab puppy who feared loud noises to a trained companion for an autistic young man. At first half hoping that the lovable puppy would fail to make the grade and remain with her, Luttrell gradually became committed to her success. The author explains that learning to anticipate and respond to Daisy's signals helped her become "a better, more patient mother," and her desire to see Daisy succeed helped her deal with her separation anxiety. Each weekend, the author would pick up and then return Daisy to the prison, and she and her inmate training partner would share experiences. Her growing realization of the importance of the program in the prisoner's life provides another thread to the narrative. A deceptively simple but powerful account of family bonds, friendship and the special relationship we share with dogs.

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Meet the Author

Sharron Kahn Luttrell is a former newspaper reporter for a mid-sized daily in Massachusetts. She now works as a freelance writer. Her articles and columns have appeared in publications including The Boston Globe and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. She continues to volunteer for NEADS as a weekend puppy raiser, and will donate a portion of the proceeds from Weekends with Daisy to NEADS.

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Weekends with Daisy 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lovely, heartwarming story. My sweet Chloe dog and I have begun to work on our sit/stay commands with regularity?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to everyone. Excellently written By Sharron Luttrell. I felt I was along for the ride each weekend she drove to the prison to pick up Daisy from the inmate who was training Daisy during the week. I couldn't wait to read the next chapter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ima in book im real david!