Here's my problem: I love to read. It's a good problem, because conveniently enough I work at a library and so every time I show up for work it's like Christmas and birthday all rolled into one. The fact that you can't see the top of my nightstand at home will attest to the fact that there are tons of great books available at Cecil County Public Library. In fact, there are so many interesting things to choose from that I have forced myself to become...dare I say it...a Judge of Book Covers (gasp!).
For the most part my methods work, but sometimes I am taken by surprise. Case in point: "Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love" by Larry Levin. Staring back at me from the cover of this non-fiction work was the deformed face of a dog with the kind of eyes that make you rush to the phone every time a Sarah MacLachlan song plays on television commercials about abused animals. Appalled by the photograph yet intrigued by the whys and hows, I readied a pile of Kleenex before I sat down with the book, fully expecting a full-on "Marley and Me" ugly cry. Instead what I discovered is a fascinating account of how one dog changed the life of any person willing to look beyond his scarred exterior.
The story of Oogy is not sappy or sad once you get beyond the horrific series of events that lead to his living with the Levins. His life began and nearly ended as a bait dog for an illegal dog fighting ring in the Philadelphia area which means, basically, that someone used this 4-month-old Dogo puppy for a stronger dog to practice fighting and/or killing. Left to bleed to death with half his face missing, the young pup was found in a police drug raid and taken to a local veterinary clinic where euthanasia seemed the only plausible solution.
Fortunately, being in the right place at the right time meant the difference between life and death for Oogy when someone on the hospital staff decided he deserved a second chance. It certainly was a huge risk considering that even if the dog survived his wounds, he would be difficult to put up for adoption due to his background and complete lack of positive human interaction. Whether by chance or divine intervention, a local family who'd made difficult decision to say goodbye to their ailing cat came into the clinic where Oogy was recuperating and the rest, as they say, is history.
Anyone who has ever adopted a pet will recognize there are a lot of adjustments to be made. Oogy's transition to life in the suburbs is very funny, as is the Levins' neighbors' adjustment to the enormous one-eared dog who has taken over their street. His bouncing, drooling enthusiasm forces many people, including this reader, to realize that even bad experiences are fleeting and there's much more to life (like in Oogy's case, romps in the dog park!)
This book could have easily been predictable and sentimental, but it is well-written, honest and very interesting. It's a great story, a fast read, and I'm glad I got past the cover.
Recommended by Priscilla Garvin