“A Dog Named Boo” by Lisa J. Edwards

Harlequin (2012), $21.95, 294 pages

Your dog knows some pretty good tricks.

Like most pooches, he’ll do anything for treats, including “sit” and “stay.” He can shake, roll over and fetch; he gives kisses, picks things up, plays hide-n-seek and he might even know how to keep you healthy and mobile.

Yes, your dog is talented in ways that surprise you every day. And in the new book “A Dog Named Boo” by Lisa J. Edwards, you’ll read about a pup whose talent is to change lives in very different ways.

Unable to hold his own against his brothers and sisters, the little puppy seemed weak. Edwards watched as its siblings stepped on and around the black-and-white “baby dog” and she couldn’t stop herself from falling in love.

Her two older dogs, Atticus and Dante, indicated toleration for the pup but Edwards’ husband, Lawrence, was against another pet. He’d just had major surgery, Edwards wasn’t in the best of health, and neither of them had time for a new puppy.

Edwards brought the little guy home anyhow, thinking that Lawrence would come to love the boy she named Boo. She knew it would be an uphill battle — she and Lawrence were both also dealing with abusive childhoods — but this dog seemed to need what Edwards had to offer: a loving home, understanding and guidance.

Boo grew to be a people-dog, so when Edwards’ brother fell ill and needed a service animal, Edwards thought Boo would be perfect. She tried to train him but even after repeated classes, Boo seemed to be locked. He didn’t listen, couldn’t retain more than the most basic commands and class time was pandemonium.

Boo would never be a service dog, but Edwards sensed he had empathy. He wasn’t ill-behaved, but he wasn’t an obedience star, either. He definitely wasn’t aggressive. It wasn’t until two veterinarians noticed his “silly puppy walking” and diagnosed a congenital brain condition that everything made sense.

Because she was interested in training, Edwards tried another tactic by listening and observing. She watched for Boo’s strengths and worked around his weaknesses until she found a way for him to make a difference.

She never thought about the difference he’d make in her life.

With a good sense of humor, obvious love for dogs, and an amazingly open demeanor, Edwards tells the story of a hurting family, a handicapped dog and the healing they did, separately and together.

This book contains a great story but, if you can read between the lines, there’s even more to gain. Because Edwards is a dog trainer, there’s plenty to learn; mainly, she subtly teaches her readers to pay close attention to their dogs’ behavior and body language to get the best results in training.

Read this book for its lessons and savor it for its story. If you’re a dog lover looking for something to curl up with, “A Dog Named Boo” does the trick.

 

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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