Thursday 4 January 2018

Book ~ "Dogs and Underdogs: Finding Happiness at Both Ends of the Leash" (2015) Elizabeth Abbott

From Goodreads ~ Elizabeth Abbott had always been an animal lover, sharing her life with all kinds of dogs in need. But when worlds collided and her beloved dog, Tommy, was left behind in Haiti, a new journey began: one that would take her to some very surprising places and ultimately teach her some essential truths about the power of hope and redemption.

From the soulless concrete corridors of an American prison to the halls of a Canadian hospital to life among the ruins in post-war Serbia, Abbott meets people whose lives are changed forever by a wagging tail and a pair of soulful eyes - and dogs who find a new lease on life with devoted human companions.

Throughout "Dogs and Underdogs", Abbott shares her own incredible and often amusing stories of rescuing dogs in need of shelter, friendship and love: devoted Tommy, the inspiration who began it all; irrepressible Bonzi, the beagle who charmed his way into prisoners’ hearts; sweet Alice, the little mama who survived a puppy mill to be “mothered” by other dogs; and many more. With wit and passion, Abbott digs down into the deepest roots of the human-animal bond, showing us that together people and dogs can find hope and happiness. 

Elizabeth Abbott is a Canadian writer and historian (she has a doctorate in nineteenth-century history from McGill University).  She is a former Dean of Women for St. Hilda's College at the University of Toronto, where she started a pet therapy program at Mount Sinai Hospital organizing volunteers and their dogs.

Abbott has always been an animal lover and has had numerous dogs and cats over the years.  She was married to the brother of General Henri Namphy, who was installed as Haiti's president/military dictator in the late 1980s.  At that time, she was forced to flee back to Canada with her son, leaving her three dogs behind.  It took two years for her to finally be able to bring Tommy, her elderly dog back to Canada.  This experience led her to realize that she was meant to be a dog rescuer.

This book is about the author's pets over the years and what was involved in getting Tommy back home along with the conditions he lived in for those two years.  There are details about other rescues/rescuers she has met over the years including a prison where inmates rehabilitate shelter dogs for three months to make them adoptable (she ended up adopting one) and a couple women in Serbia who took in hundreds of homeless dogs (Abbott helped to find homes in Canada for some of these dogs).

I enjoy reading books about animals and that's what attracted me to this one.  At times it was tough to read because of the descriptions of conditions some animals have to live in and the rough treatment they receive.

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