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The Puppy That Came For Christmas – Book Review

I didn’t want to be dogless ever again. Life just felt right with a dog in it. Not to have one would be all wrong. – from The Puppy That Came For Christmas –

Megan Rix and her husband, Ian, were struggling to conceive a baby, when they unexpectedly connected with Helper Dogs – an organization which trains dogs to be placed in homes to assist persons with disability. They never dreamed that deciding to become puppy parents to a Helper Dog puppy in training would change their lives…but it did. Neither Megan nor Ian had much experience with dogs, so when Emma (a sweet golden retriever puppy) arrived at their home, they did not know what to expect. Showering Emma with love and toys, the couple soon fell in love with their new puppy. When the day came to give Emma up so she could continue her advanced training and be placed with a person who needed her, Megan and Ian were devastated. Quickly they accepted a new foster puppy named Freddy, once again putting their hearts at risk. When Freddy also left them to advance in the Helper Dog program, Megan and Ian decided it was time that they found a puppy who would stay with them forever.

In The Puppy That Came For Christmas, Rix relates the joy, the heartbreak, and the rewards of fostering puppies to help those in need. Intertwined in the story of becoming a puppy parent is the grief and frustration of infertility. Rix shares her sustained efforts to become pregnant – the fertility drugs, the pain at seeing those around her conceive while she remains infertile, and the toll that infertility takes on a woman and her partner. In a book about love, loss, and healing, Rix’s memoir reveals the power of a dog’s unconditional love to alleviate even the deepest emotional pain.

My only complaint with the book,which I admit is a personal one, was Rix’s tendency to propagate the stereotype of the German Shepherd breed as aggressive and scary. She mentions the breed several times, always in a negative light. Having owned several German Shepherds in my life, I know they are loyal, intelligent, highly trainable, and very lovable…even with small puppies and children. Any dog, regardless of breed, has the potential for aggression (in fact, my German Shepherd pup experienced an unprovoked attack by a lab mix which left her with a deep puncture wound to the face and nearly cost her the vision in her eye when she was only six months old). In a book which shows just why dogs are so special, I was dismayed that Rix chose to perpetuate a myth about a specific breed.

Rix does tell the reader that she knew little about dogs when she stepped into her role as puppy parent, so I can forgive her gaff when it comes to the German Shepherd breed…especially because the rest of the book is a heartwarming portrayal of the importance of dogs in our lives.

Readers who love dogs or who have ever considering fostering dogs, will find much to enjoy in Rix’s poignant memoir.

FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided me with this book for review on my blog.

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6 Comments

  1. December 17, 2011    

    I’m with you on breed stereotyping. Before having a dog I knew that a lot of behaviour was down to the owner, but since owning one myself I have realised this even more. I’ve been surprised by the amount of aggressive dogs I’ve come across whilst walking mine, but the aggression has all come from nervous, under solialised dogs. My dog has been physically attacked twice – once by a yorkshire terrier, once by a jack russell. Luckily there was no lasting damage, but I’m far more worried about nervous little dogs now. All the german shephards I’ve met have been lovely dogs. 🙂 I can see why this annoyed you, but hopefully your post will have helped others to think about breed stereotyping a bit.

  2. December 17, 2011    

    I enjoyed this book but feel the title is very misleading. My mother’s neighbors have a HUGE German Shepherd and it’s got to be one of the most gentle dogs around. My mom and that dog love each other and the whole neighborhood calls my mother the dog’s grandmother.

  3. December 17, 2011    

    I also get mad at the breed stereotyping. I think I have mentioned that I have a Pit Bull, and people act like these dogs are just waiting for the chance to go out and attack people and other animals. He is the most sensitive and sweet dog, and is just a real pushover and baby. He is totally dominated by our tiny dog, and it makes me so frustrated that people persist in believing the rumors that Pits are dangerous dogs. Like someone mentioned, any dog has the potential to be a dangerous dog when not treated right or socialized, and it’s sad that so many of these big breeds are thought to be bad and dangerous dogs. I happen to know that every German Shepard that I have ever met has been wonderfully loving and very well behaved.

  4. December 17, 2011    

    Jackie: I know what you mean – I work as a physical therapist in home health and I encounter all kinds of dogs on my visits…I’ve been bitten twice – once by a Chihuahua and once by a grouchy terrier – both dogs weighed less than 20 pounds.

    Kathy: I agree about the title – I wonder if that was a marketing decision since the book was released close to Christmas. My huge male GSD weighed nearly 110 pounds – I have a great photo of him lying on the floor with my niece who was 6 months old at the time. He was the most gentle dog I’ve ever owned.

    Heather: I remember that about your dog. I agree – people see Pits and immediately think they will be attacked. I have a friend who does Pit rescue and her dogs are some of the sweetest dogs around. Unfortunately, the media and a couple of bad incidences help to paint this breed, as well as german shepherds, dobies, rottweilers and a couple of other breeds in a very bad light. I always get mad when I see these breeds being maligned. Our Golden Retriever (Argus) was terrible with puppies – he used to growl at them and get mad at them…on the other hand, Caribou was a GSD who loved puppies so much – she was a very gentle “teacher” with them. So there you go…

  5. December 17, 2011    

    I really wanted to read this book because of the cover… Yep, that’s it… I really like animal-type books and then don’t read nearly enough…

  6. December 28, 2011    

    Kailana: LOL – puppies are always good for covers!

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