Not much is better than a well-written dog book, except maybe a real dog.
While it seems everyone knows of the book-turned-movie “A Dog’s Purpose” (which I absolutely love), there are several other dog books in the world that pull on the heartstrings and remind readers why canines are man’s best friend.
One such example is the novel “The Dog Who Saved Me” by Susan Wilson.
In this book, Cooper Harrison, a police officer who was working in Boston, must return to his small hometown to work after facing trauma on the job. When his K-9 partner Argos is killed in the line of duty, he is torn up with grief and subsequently, he finds himself in the midst of a divorce.
With no job and a poignant loss to face, Cooper returns to Harmony Farms, where he accepts a position as the town’s animal control officer.
Cooper must try to make a new name for himself in the town he gladly left years ago, where his father, Bull, was once known as the local drunk, and his brother, Jimmy, was nothing but trouble until he was imprisoned for his actions.
In the process, he attempts to avoid any involvement with these two but somehow still finds himself getting tangled in the inevitable web of family ties, especially after Jimmy is released from prison.
On his new job, Cooper is a serious man, sometimes demanding more action than the town’s resources can afford to allow. Despite his drive to protect the local animals and keep them safely where they’re supposed to be, he remains detached from them, not allowing himself to bond with any animal the way he had with Argos.
Although he tries as hard as he can to maintain this distance, Cooper eventually finds himself in the middle of solving a couple different town mysteries — one involving his brother’s suspicious and likely criminal actions and the other involving a wounded and skittish yellow Labrador retriever.
Using his experience on the Boston police force, Cooper pushes for answers to both cases: What is his conniving brother up to? Who traumatized this dog to the point of ferality?
While digging, he makes new friends and enemies with people in town and gets closer to the yellow lab he swore he’d keep his distance from.
Users on Goodreads gave this book 3.97 out of 5 stars, and users on Amazon gave it a 4.4. For me, it’s a 4.6.
With this novel, Wilson perfectly portrays just how special people’s relationships can be with their pets or, in this case, K-9 partners. Dogs have a way of weaseling into our hearts, even if we try to keep them out, and she captures that wonderfully.
Other than the bond between people and animals, this book deals with themes of grief and loss, redemption, passion and love, and does so in an undoubtedly human way.
Throughout the story, Cooper is confused, hurt and scared, yet still driven. He marches through his new life to the best of his ability and eventually finds himself again thanks to a reluctant reintroduction to a town he once couldn’t wait to leave. People — and even the animals he refuses to care about beyond a professional level — help him along the way.
Read “The Dog Who Saved Me” to find out if Cooper solves the cases he sets out to and if he successfully shuns further human-dog connections.