Wednesday 8 April 2015

Book ~ "Comet's Tale: How the Dog I Rescued Saved My Life" (2012) Steven D. Wolf and Lynette Padwa

From Goodreads ~ Forced into early retirement by a spinal condition, Steven Wolf reluctantly left his family and moved to Arizona for its warm winter climate.   A lifelong dog lover, the former hard-driving attorney is drawn to a local group that rescues retired racing greyhounds. 

When Comet, a once-abused cinnamon-striped racer, chooses to "adopt" Wolf, he has no idea that a life-altering relationship has begun - for both of them.  Racers, cruelly treated and exposed only to the track and cage, have no inkling of the most basic skills - walking on tile floors, climbing stairs, even playing with toys or children - so Wolf must show the mistrustful greyhound how to thrive in the real world. 

Gradually, a confident but mysterious spirit emerges from the stunning animal. And when Wolf's health starts to worsen, the tables turn and Comet must now help Wolf with the most basic skills. Wolf teaches her to be a service dog and soon enough she's hauling his wheelchair at top speed through airport terminals, towing his cart through the grocery store, helping him get out of bed and attracting friends to Wolf's isolated world. She plays a crucial role in restoring his health and even saving his marriage. Their unshakable faith in each other makes them winners once again. 

Wolfie was a lawyer in his mid-40s who was forced to retire because he had back problems.  He couldn't handle the cold winters of Nebraska so he spent them in Arizona.  He heard about a local group that had rescue greyhounds for adoption.  He is a dog lover and had two golden retrievers at home and ended up adopting a greyhound named Comet ... or was it Comet who adopted Wolfie?

As Wolfie's back problems got worse, he trained Comet to become his service dog ... helping Wolfie get out of bed and chairs, open doors, give him balance on walks, pull his shopping cart and more.   The Nebraska Humane Society honoured Comet in 2010 as "Service Dog of the Year".  At times because of his pain and medication, Wolfie was very isolated with only Comet as his companion.

I love reading stories about dogs and I enjoyed this one.  The bond between Wolfie and Comet was obvious and Comet was so smart and intuitive.  Not only is this the story of Wolfie ad Comet but I learned more about the plight of greyhounds. According to the author ...

Tens of thousands of greyhound puppies are born every year. A miniscule percentage of those dogs are bred for shows, like the Westminster Dog Show. The vast majority, estimated to be more than 20,000 puppies per year even with so many fewer dog tracks from the heydays of the 1980s through the 1990s, come into this world on breeding farms. There kennels are equipped with long-chained runs, which teach the dogs one thing - how to run fast. At about 15 to 18 months of age, these greyhounds are sent to tracks where they spend all their time in cages between races.

This is not to say that many of these dogs are not cared for, fed and given their shots on time. Indeed, many breeders will tell you unequivocally that they love their greyhounds. The conundrum, though, is that the numbers of these dogs that must be bred to satiate the racing industry’s demands necessitate greyhounds be raised and treated more like prize livestock than family pets.

Instead of being euthanized or sold for medical research as in former days, many discarded greyhounds - those who don’t make it as winners - are now finding their way to one of the three hundred groups that prepare them for adoption. Greyhounds are not raised in farm kennels in order to become cuddly, loving house companions but that’s exactly what they can be.

I liked the writing style.  I found Wolfie, Freddie (Wolfie's wife) and Comet likeable.  Comet sounded like an awesome dog (she has since passed away).

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