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Discover the astonishing lessons rescue dogs can teach us about life, love, and ourselves
As seen on BuzzFeed’s "Best Books Gift Guide"
In the follow-up to his New York Times bestseller Rescue Road, acclaimed journalist Peter Zheutlin offers a heartwarming and often humorous new look into the world of rescue dogs. Sharing lessons from his own experiences adopting Labs with large personalities as well as stories and advice from dozens of families and rescue advocates, Zheutlin reveals the surprising and inspiring life lessons rescue dogs can teach us, such as:
- How to “walk a mile in a dog’s paws” to get a brand-new perspective
- Living with a dog is not one continuous Hallmark moment—but it’s never dull!
- Why having a dog helps you see your faults and quirks in a new light, even if you can’t “shed” them completely
- How to set the world right, one dog at a time
For anyone who loves, lives with, or has ever wanted a dog, this charming book shows how the dogs whose lives we save can change ours for the better too.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
PETER ZHEUTLIN is a freelance journalist and bestselling author, whose work appears regularly in national publications, including The Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor. Zheutlin has also written for The LA Times, Parade Magazine, AARP Magazine and numerous other national newspapers and magazines. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway, as well as one other book. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, author Judith Gelman and two rescued Labradors.
Read an Excerpt
Setting the World Right, One Dog at a Time
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man. —MARK TWAIN
It didn’t take long for us to have our first Albie crisis; three days after he first arrived in our home, to be exact. We’d left Albie home with our two sons, and Danny, home for the summer between his junior and senior years at Tulane University, inadvertently left the back door open. Within moments Albie was gone. Danny was beside himself with panic and when we arrived home about twenty minutes later he was out scouring the neighborhood and Noah was manning the home front. We were stunned. This sweet, precious dog we’d agreed to love and care for was missing. Just three days and we’d already failed him miserably.
Fortunately, the day Albie arrived in our home Danny insisted on using his own money to buy Albie an identification tag engraved with his name and our phone number. Within minutes of our arriving home, the phone rang. It was a woman who lived near the neighborhood elementary school, about a quarter mile away.
“I think we have your dog,” she told Judy. “He’s so sweet. My kids love him and want to keep him!”
Our relief was immeasurable, not least for Danny, who felt so responsible. The very next day we enclosed what had, until then, been only a partially fenced backyard. Clearly, after just three days, Albie had not yet come to identify us, and our home, as his own. That would come in due time, but meanwhile we couldn’t help but start speculating about his past.
When a dog with a mysterious past comes into your home—and for the vast majority of rescue dogs their past is a mystery—it’s natural to start making lots of assumptions. You observe a behavior and assume it’s connected to something in that past. If the dog is skittish around men, for example, it’s easy to assume the dog had some bad experience with a man, or men, in the past. If the dog fears sticks, it’s easy to assume the dog was once beaten with one. But these assumptions may be way off the mark.
In those first few days, we were making all kinds of inferences about Albie’s past. Judy and Noah surmised he’d never ridden in a car before. When they picked him up at the shelter he seemed to have no idea how to get into the car. And he wouldn’t sit once inside, though that could just have been the excitement of being released from the shelter and into the hands of strangers. He seemed well mannered in the house, so we assumed he’d had a human family before.
But no amount of gentle coaxing at night would get him to climb the stairs and sleep in the bedroom. Instead, he slept underneath the coffee table in the living room and for the first few nights I slept on the sofa next to him. Maybe being under the table was like a little den to him; he seemed to feel safe there and, indeed, he still likes lying underneath tables and beds. We surmised that whatever house he’d lived in before, it didn’t have stairs. But, really, we had no idea.
What was clear, however, was that the short, thirty-second video on which we’d based the momentous decision to adopt Albie did not lie. He was gentle and quiet (would the quiet part ever change!), and maybe we were projecting, but he seemed grateful, as if he somehow knew his worst days were behind him. He was also, thankfully, house-trained. He showed no interest in chasing a tennis ball (had anyone ever played fetch with him?), but he was so accommodating and easy that we, like Andrea and Linda with regard to their Noah, couldn’t imagine anyone voluntarily letting him go. But then we came up with a theory.
In those very early days we took him to a couple of local spots where he could swim—nearby ponds where many local dogs cavort and play and splash around. It was July, after all, and what dog wouldn’t welcome a watery respite from the heat? Whatever his genetic makeup, Albie clearly has a lot of Lab (he could be pure Lab, for all we know, despite the designation on his adoption papers as a Lab/golden retriever mix), and Labs, as everyone knows, love to swim. And they’re called retrievers because they will swim into the water and retrieve waterfowl felled by a hunter. Well, Albie would not and, to this day, will not swim. He’ll wade in up to his haunches, and he’ll stand on the shore and bark at all the other dogs romping in the water like the goofy kid at camp who can’t figure out how to fit in, but he will not swim.
So was born our theory that Albie had been someone’s failed hunting dog, and in Louisiana a dog that won’t hunt is lucky to live. While researching Rescue Road I learned that the end of hunting season in Louisiana coincides with a significant spike in stray dogs being brought to local shelters or picked up by animal control. And those are the lucky ones. So dispensable are dogs in some quarters that it’s cheaper to dispatch a dog with a fifty-cent bullet and get a new dog for the next hunting season than feed him all winter, especially if he isn’t adept at the purpose for which he was obtained. A hunter counting on Albie to swim out fifty yards to retrieve a duck would have been a very disappointed hunter. But truly, we don’t know. There could be a wonderful family in Central Louisiana still wondering what became of their beloved yellow Lab.
There was one behavior, if you can call it that, that didn’t exactly give us a window into Albie’s previous life as much as it made our hearts break when we thought of him fending for himself in the wilds of Louisiana. Whether he’d been alone for weeks or months no one knows, but he’d been out there wandering. To this day, Albie trembles uncontrollably during thunderstorms no matter how tightly we hold him and how hard we try to reassure him. It’s as if his central nervous system were wired right into the charged electrons swirling invisibly through the air. Now, many dogs react this way to thunderstorms, and fireworks, too. (We’ll come to fireworks later.) But in those early days especially, as we’d try to reassure him through flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder, the thought of him caught outdoors in the middle of Louisiana with nowhere to turn and no one to comfort him saddened us deeply.
One of our first nearby water excursions with Albie was to the path that circles Lake Waban, half of which sits on property owned by Wellesley College. It’s the path where we walked Reilly when he came to stay with us. I immediately got a taste of why people get such nachus (that’s Yiddish for satisfaction, pleasure, and contentment) from their dogs. Albie got plenty of compliments and admiration from passersby. We thanked them as if his adorability and sunny disposition somehow reflected on us, which, of course, they didn’t. And with all the uncomplicated affection Albie was starting to show us, it was easy to feel virtuous and flatter ourselves, as if he had reserved all that love just for us because we were just so darned wonderful. But the truth is Albie could have been plunked down in any one of a million homes and he’d have been just as trusting, sweet, and loving. So we felt very lucky that he had fallen in with us. But, at the risk of sounding self- serving, he was really lucky to be with us, too.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Saving Albie 1
Chapter 2 Setting the World Right, One Dog at a Time 17
Chapter 3 Home Is Where the Dog Is 31
Chapter 4 Life Isn't Always a Beach ... but Sometimes It Is 47
Chapter 5 Dogs Will Be Dogs 65
Chapter 6 Walk a Mile in Their Paws 91
Chapter 7 Keeping Things in Perspective-the Canine Way 111
Chapter 8 The Healing Power of Dogs 133
Chapter 9 Finding the Four-Pawed Fountain of Youth 163
Chapter 10 Lives Well Lived 173
Chapter 11 Come On, Get Up, It's a New Day! 193
Illustration Credits 227
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great follow-up to Rescue Road - I recommend this book to any dog-lovers, but especially folks who adopt a rescue dog, or may be considering an adoption. There is a tremendous need out there - so many deserving pups who need a second chance in a forever home. Mr. Zheutlin doesn't "sugar-coat" the process - there are struggles and pitfalls - but the book is honest, his efforts to cover this wide-ranging topic are sincere, and there are as many happy outcomes as there are difficult ones. It helped me to read his account of his experience with Albie, since his story very closely resembles our experience with our rescue pup trucked up from the deep south. More needs to be done to help these dogs find loving homes, but adopters also need to understand the commitments involved, along with the heart-warming rewards. The heroes in these vignettes are inspirational, and the pups are unforgettable.
I’m an animal lover and strong advocate for rescue animals. “Rescued” is written for anyone like me. Instead of focusing solely on the dogs it focuses on rescuers and how the dogs have impacted their lives. Recommended for all lovers of second-hand dogs. This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the opportunity to read and review Rescued by Peter Zheutlin. Rescued by Peter Zheutlin is about the all-encompassing wonderfulness of dogs. Each chapter opens with a quote sharing and stating the unconditional love of dogs and then tells of experiences when people’s lives have been touched by dogs. Beautiful, touching, humorous and deserving of a solid 5 stars for a book for all dog lovers! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.
I began Rescued, by Peter Zheutlin, thinking it would be a heartwarming story of a rescued dog, the unconditional love of a dog, and the joyful, entertaining antics that only a dog can provide. In reality, it is a compilation of interviews with dog rescuers and owners of rescued dogs, plus the author's own experience with his rescue dog, Albie, and an appeal for more people to rescue abandoned and mistreated dogs. The book provides information about animal rescue organizations in the United States, and about kill shelters. Zheutlin states that most kill-shelters in the U.S. are in the southern states. I was upset to read this, so I researched it, and found it to be true. Unfortunately, it seems to be most common in states with smaller budgets, more poor counties, and higher rates of low-income populations, as those folks pay less or no taxes, and are unable to donate to their local Humane Societies. Zheutlin states that, in high-kill shelters, "...nine out of every ten dogs that enter never leave". He also states that "...the end of hunting season in Louisiana coincides with a significant spike in stray dogs" due to hunters abandoning their dogs when the season ends, especially older dogs. This is devastating information. I hope it is not true, but I fear it is. The book discusses the ill feelings between supporters of rescue dogs versus supporters of breeders of purebred dogs. He does not, however, take a stand on the part of either, but quotes veterinarians saying they see more sickness with bred dogs than with rescue dogs, and that mixed breeds are generally healthier and of a more even temperament. Throughout the book, Zheutlin shares stories of the love of rescued animals and their appreciation for the humans who take them out of miserable, often abusive situations.
I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review. An absolutely delightful and adorable read! Zheutlin was able to bring the dogs to life and showcase their personalities with the written word - a truly remarkable feat. I don't know who wouldn't want to cuddle the sweet, skittish, and lovable Albie after finishing this book. Dog rescue is a world of extremes: Zheutlin points to the horrors that many dogs (especially in the South) face and then shifts the focus to the realities of rescuing a dog and giving them a home of love, safety and comfort. The author doesn't shy away from the challenges that an owner could face when rescuing a dog; instead he addresses it in a practical way that inspires rather than discourages rescue. I really enjoyed the way Zheutlin took several "case studies", or rescued dogs and their owners, and used their stories repeatedly throughout the book. Instead of briefly meeting a great number of dogs and owners, we are able to really get to know a handful of great human beings and their dogs. It also gives continuity to the exploration of what one can expect when rescuing a dog.
dogs, pets, rescue, family-dynamics Reading this book reminds us that adoption is a difficult but rewarding experience whether the adoptee is human or canine. Countless tales of the frustrations and joys of bringing home a grown individual we know little about puts the spotlight on the mistaken ideas we may have as well as well as the love we may share. There are too many abused or abandoned dogs who can enrich our lives even as we make a positive difference in theirs. Some of the examples here are hard to read because of the trials of illness that can come to either dog or human. I think that this book is well worth your time and money whether you have had rescue dogs or are considering doing so. We have had rescue dogs and highly recommend it, I requested a copy through Netgalley and am very glad to have read it.