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Review: The Puppy That Came for Christmas

December 2, 2011

Megan Rix, and her husband Ian, desperately wanted children and were trying fertility treatments with no luck.  When they visited Japan they rented a dog (yes, rented) and really enjoyed the experience, but decided that the timing wasn’t right for them to become dog owners.  On their return home, Ian noticed an ad in the paper for a new Helper Dogs satellite center near them.  They decided to check it out and signed up to become puppy parents.  Puppy parents foster helper dogs from about 6 weeks to 6 months old and begin their initial training.  Megan and Ian were approved to become puppy parents and were told they’d get their first puppy in March.  Due to a mix-up, they got their first puppy, Emma, right before Christmas, and they fell head over heels in love.

The Puppy That Came for Christmas, by Megan Rix, is a heartwarming, feel-good story.  Animal lovers need not worry – no dogs were harmed in the writing of this book.  That doesn’t mean you won’t shed a tear of two, though.   This book is full of emotion – the heartbreak of infertility, the delight of a puppy, and the hope and independence service dogs bring the disabled.  This passage is a wonderful example of some of that emotion:

Maybe all puppy parents felt like this, maybe they all just fell helplessly in love.  To get the best from the puppies you have to put everything into it – affection, time, blood, sweat and tears.  It has to be that way for them to flourish and grow up to be the best Helper Dog possible: they must trust you completely and want to do anything for you.  But the inevitable consequence is a broken heart when it’s time to say goodbye.

Along with the anguish of her infertility, Rix gives a peek into what it’s like to train a Helper Dog.  I found that fascinating, especially since Milou trained us, instead of the other way around.  I so admire people who dedicate themselves to training service dogs like that, but know I wouldn’t be able to give the dog up.  I would love to use some of their training techniques if/when we have another dog.

Rix wrote a newspaper column from the puppies’ points of view and shares some of what she wrote, as well as pictures, in the book, and I found them charming.  She also shares the stories of some disabled people and the impact their service dogs have on them and their families.  It’s amazing how much these animals can do and what a positive affect they can have on people’s lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Puppy That Came for Christmas, even though I shed a tear or two as I read it.  I do think the title is somewhat misleading – it’s not really a Christmas story.  This is a book to be enjoyed any time of the year – animal lovers will find it delightful!

Review copy provided by Penguin. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
32 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2011 6:56 am

    You’ve convinced me! It’s such a cute cover too.

  2. December 2, 2011 6:59 am

    I could never do what they were able to do:

    1. I am a horrible disciplinararian. A pup just has to look at me a certain way and I melt totally.

    2. It would break my heart to give up a dog 😦

    I am so curious about this puppy rental service in Japan though. How do they make sure the dogs are not mistreated ?

  3. December 2, 2011 7:03 am

    Before I read your review, I showed my daughter the cover and said “well this looks like heartbreak on paper!”. So, I’m sorry because I was hasty in my judgement. I do think the title and the cover is misleading. This is something that I would actually want to read, having gone through years of fertility issues, and adopting a dog in the middle of all that.

  4. December 2, 2011 7:28 am

    What a wonderful way to help others. I know a woman who train guide dogs — she says it never gets easy to give up her current dog.

  5. December 2, 2011 8:12 am

    I can’t imagine giving up the dog at the end. Our dog passed died in July, and while I know its clearly not the same thing, I think would just feel too bad at saying goodbye to a dog I had become attached to. That said, the people who train service dogs are certainly to be commended — it’s such a valuable service.

  6. December 2, 2011 8:30 am

    This looks so good; I love reading about service dogs!

  7. December 2, 2011 8:59 am

    I would be too attached to give yo the dogs. sounds like a good book though

  8. December 2, 2011 9:13 am

    Sounds so sweet.

  9. December 2, 2011 10:13 am

    Got this one in the mail, and I am excited to read it as a Christmas treat!

  10. December 2, 2011 10:34 am

    Must put this on my tbr list, sounds good.

  11. December 2, 2011 11:25 am

    I’ve never heard of “renting” a dog. I think highly of people who train service dogs. The dogs are amazing!

  12. December 2, 2011 11:44 am

    Aw, it sounds like a really sweet and heartwarming read. I kind of wish I could rent a dog though.

  13. December 2, 2011 12:14 pm

    We have a gal on campus who trains service dogs. She’s trained at least a dozen and I’ve seen them here at work throughout my 18 years here. There was one dog, I will never forget it, a black lab who was definitely the black sheep of the service dog organization. She said that after repeated attempts, that he wasn’t going to pass. She worried about what would happen to him. Later, she found out that he became a search and rescue dog and helped with the 9/11 search efforts. I was so warmed by that story. He was just a different kind of service dog.

  14. December 2, 2011 12:43 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful book!

  15. December 2, 2011 12:47 pm

    That is such a cute cover, Sounds like a good book, it would have been on my to-read list if I love books on dogs.

  16. December 2, 2011 12:58 pm

    Great review, Kathy! 🙂 It would be interesting to learn about training a service dog. I see more and more of them out and about.

  17. December 2, 2011 2:22 pm

    I also would think it would be hard for me to give the puppy up when the time came, so I don’t think I would ever be a foster mother to a puppy. I am glad to hear that this book doesn’t end with a dog’s death, as so many dog books do, and am considering reading this one when I can. Great review, Kathy! I am so glad that you loved this one!

  18. December 2, 2011 3:21 pm

    Thanks you for the disclosure… I am pretty wary of puppy books these days 😉

  19. December 2, 2011 4:02 pm

    Not a dog person, but it sure looks cute :=D

  20. December 2, 2011 5:25 pm

    This sounds like a sweet, though sometimes tough, read. Sure is a cute fella though!

  21. December 2, 2011 6:00 pm

    ok…as long as it is not sad. I can not take a sad dog book, especially this time of year.

  22. December 2, 2011 8:28 pm

    I’m fascinated that you can rent a dog. That seems like a good idea actually. So many people have no idea what they are getting into with a dog and it would be a good way to test the waters before committing and ending up with a bad situation. This sounds like a different spin on the typical “dog book.”

  23. December 2, 2011 9:39 pm

    I think people that train these dogs and the dogs themselves are heroes. Like you, I could never give the dog and I doubt I have the patience. Max is certainly not trained and we’ve had him 7 years!
    Oh, and renting a dog is very strange. Maybe I could start renting Max out. Hmm….

  24. December 2, 2011 9:50 pm

    Wow…shedding a tear or two means I can’t even look at the cover!!!

  25. December 3, 2011 8:17 am

    I passed on this one just because I didn’t really think I wanted to read about a couple who couldn’t have a baby. I totally overlooked the whole service dog aspect. It does sound like a moving and interesting read…thanks for reviewing it today and of course, it’s going on my list!

  26. December 3, 2011 9:48 am

    Wait… you can RENT a dog? hahah that’s kinda awesome actually… This sounds like a good book 🙂

  27. December 3, 2011 12:01 pm

    I think it takes a special person to train service dogs! I get so attached to animals though I would be a lousy candidate. I’d be so heartbroken giving them up in the end. Which is why I would never rent a dog! Who knew you could do that! This sounds like a good read even though I am sure I would need a pile of kleenex!

  28. December 3, 2011 6:11 pm

    Oh my I would have a really hard time fostering and having to give the dog back too! I just heard something on tv the other day about renting dogs. That’s so weird to me… I would never rent out my dog!!

  29. December 3, 2011 10:12 pm

    A wonderful story … more/deeper than the cover implies! (and, yes, not really a Christmas story, but that big red bow and the title will capitalize on the season).

  30. December 3, 2011 11:25 pm

    Awww! I can’t resist cute puppies, and I’ve been on the lookout for a cute puppy-related book. I’m adding this to my wishlist right away! 😀

  31. December 6, 2011 8:12 am

    I once thought about being a puppy foster parent but after my latest puppy experience – NO WAY!

  32. December 7, 2011 1:22 pm

    Sounds so cute… and that cover is to die for.

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