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Review: The Underdogs

June 16, 2016

The Underdogs

When she was 26 years old, Karen Shirk was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular disease that left her respirator dependent and practically bedridden.  Her caregiver sensed that Karen had become despondent and lonely so she strongly suggested Karen get a service dog but every agency they contacted turned Karen down because she was on a ventilator.  Her caregiver told her to get her own dog and hire a trainer and, once she did, she never looked back.  Karen regained her spark for life and her health improved.  She even credits that dog for saving her life when post surgery medications left her in bad shape.

Once other’s saw Karen’s success, they asked her to help them get a service dog of their own.  When other agencies said no, Karen’s organization, 4 Paws for Ability, said yes, becoming the first organization to place service animals with children.

The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love by Melissa Fay Greene is not only the story of Karen and 4 Paws for Ability, it is the story of the many other lives this wonderful organization has touched.  Most people understand the huge impact service animals have on the lives of their patients but these animals also improve the quality of life for the rest of their families, with many parents saying they were able to get a full night’s sleep for the first time since their child was born once the service dog joined their family.  These animals also make a big difference to their trainers, including some prisoners.

Greene sprinkles facts  about inter-species relationships throughout the book, citing studies and research.  A few of those areas of the book were a little dry but those sections didn’t last long and didn’t keep me from loving this book!  I cried on several occasions as I read The Underdogs and gained a new respect for service dogs, their trainers, and families looking for a solution to their struggles.  Every animal lover will want to read this book!

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

 

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2016 5:53 am

    This sounds wonderful!

  2. June 16, 2016 7:22 am

    What a fantastic organization. I’ll look for this book.

  3. June 16, 2016 7:26 am

    Sounds wonderful!!

  4. June 16, 2016 9:45 am

    I’m not a huge animal fan. But this sounds very inspirational.

  5. June 16, 2016 10:40 am

    Myasthenia gravis is familiar to me because one of my young cousins had the disease, back when we were children, and eventually died from it.

    I gather that progress has been made in treatment, and it’s heartening to hear of how the child in this book could enjoy having a dog, even with her limitations.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. June 16, 2016 11:50 am

    I’m a huge dog lover and have always been fascinated with service dogs, and service monkeys.

  7. June 16, 2016 11:50 am

    This book sounds very touching and all-together wonderful!

  8. Patty permalink
    June 16, 2016 3:50 pm

    It sounds beautiful.

  9. bookingmama permalink
    June 16, 2016 6:16 pm

    One of my best friends babysits service dogs. They are amazing creatures!!!

  10. June 16, 2016 8:55 pm

    I need to read this! I’ve always wondered about service dogs and love reading stuff about them. This one sounds wonderful.

  11. June 17, 2016 2:42 pm

    Many of my husband’s facilities have service dogs who visit with the residents and it makes such a difference. It really brightens up their day and they love the interaction with the dogs.

  12. Literary Feline permalink
    June 17, 2016 11:17 pm

    What a wonderful story!

  13. June 18, 2016 12:24 am

    This is so inspirational. At Gage’s school, the OT trained service dogs and brought the dogs with her to school! The kids loved it.

  14. June 20, 2016 2:07 pm

    These are the organizations we should be hearing about on the news!

  15. Ryan permalink
    June 20, 2016 11:34 pm

    What a wonderfully uplifting book, after last week I need to read more of this.

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