This emotionally uplifting saga of a Queensland, Australia, family who lost overboard their beloved blue heeler dog, Sophie, while on a weekend boating trip reflects the strength and loyal spirit of these people and canines. Journalist Pearse writes of how the Griffiths were sure Sophie could never have survived the over-five-mile swim in heavy storm currents and shark-infested waters to the nearest islands, but their pampered but hardy family pet somehow made it to a nearby inhospitable, uninhabited island. Facing dehydration and starvation, a desperate Sophie plunged back into the ocean two months later and braved the long swim to neighboring St. Bees island, a large nature preserve with only 14 inhabitants. Concern for the safety of the rare, indigenous koala population on St. Bees meant that, by law, the wary and reclusive Sophie's days were numbered unless she could be safely relocated. Nearly five months after her disappearance, the Griffiths were stunned to learn that a dog found on St. Bees could be their cherished Sophie. VERDICT Animal lovers and survival story enthusiasts will enjoy this riveting, true story, told with strong local flavor.—Susan Riley, Mount Kisco P.L., NY
Pearse, an Australian journalist, shares the amazing true story of Sophie, an Australian cattle dog who, on a boating trip with her human family, is swept overboard into the Great Barrier Reef. After a fruitless search, the devastated owners reluctantly conclude that their beloved pet has either drowned or been carried off by ocean predators. Unbeknownst to them, little Sophie swims—for up to 24 hours—to remote Keswick Island. When food and water prove to be scarce, the exhausted and emaciated Sophie undertakes another perilous swim, this time to nearby St. Bees island, where five months later, she is caught and finally reunited with her family. While Sophie’s story is riveting, Pearse’s telling drags in spots, especially when she describes how the family grieved for their lost dog; the writing is affecting but repetitious. The story shimmers, however, when the author focuses on recreating Sophie’s island experiences—through interviews with animal experts like Temple Grandin and with witnesses who noticed the castaway—and describing the joyous reunion. A tender, delightful story of how a cosseted pup turned into a hardy, intrepid—and very lucky—“supercanine,” this book will endear itself to dog and adventure lovers everywhere. (Feb.)
Publishers Weekly, 10/3/11
“A tender, delightful story of how a cosseted pup turned into a hardy, intrepid—and very lucky—‘supercanine,’ this book will endear itself to dog and adventure lovers everywhere.”
Kirkus Reviews, 11/1/11
“This story of canine loyalty and the power of human-animal relationships is as charming as its blue-furred heroine. A treat for dog lovers.”
Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human, August 29, 2011
“It was amazing how this dog swam to a remote island and survived to be reunited with her family. All dog lovers should read this wonderful book.”
“This emotionally uplifting saga of a Queensland, Australia, family who lost overboard their beloved blue heeler dog, Sophie, while on a weekend boating trip reflects the strength and loyal spirit of these people and canines….Animal lovers and survival story enthusiasts will enjoy this riveting, true store, told with strong local flavor.”
Booklist, 1/1 issue
“Dog lovers will appreciate this heartwarming story of animal survival and the ties between humans and animals.”
American Way, February2012
“A heartwarming tale of the power of love and perseverance.
Journalist Pearse tells the heartwarming lost-and-found tale of Sophie, an Australian blue heeler who became an unwitting castaway on St. Bees, an island off the Queensland coast. Sophie was a pet store puppy, "the sleepiest of a litter of otherwise bumptious cattle dogs." Although apparently disinterested in human attention, she nevertheless caught the eye of 16-year-old Bridget Griffith, who "fell hopelessly in love" with her. Gentle and affectionate, Sophie quickly won the hearts of Bridget's parents and became the "fifth child" in a family of four children. Over time she transformed them from "steadfast canine disciplinarians to utter softies" who allowed her to come indoors and lay claim to an old leather armchair, a feat no other Griffith dog had ever accomplished. When Bridget left for college a year later, the bond between Sophie and Bridget's parents--especially her father--intensified. In 2009, while the Griffiths and their canine "bestie" were out sailing, Sophie quietly slipped off the deck of their boat and into the ocean. A grief-stricken husband and wife gave up their beloved dog as lost. But against all odds, Sophie managed to swim treacherous, shark-infested waters to land on one, then another, sparsely populated island. Rejecting the humans with whom she came into contact, she survived alone for an incredible five months until she was captured and returned to the Griffiths. Occasionally overdramatized, this story of canine loyalty and the power of human-animal relationships is as charming as its blue-furred heroine. A treat for dog lovers.