The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love
From two time National Book Award nominee Melissa Fay Greene comes a profound and surprising account of dogs on the front lines of rescuing both children and adults from the trenches of grief, emotional, physical, and cognitive disability, and post traumatic stress disorder.
The Underdogs tells the story of Karen Shirk, felled at age twenty four by a neuromuscular disease and facing life as a ventilator dependent, immobile patient, who was turned down by every service dog agency in the country because she was “too disabled.” Her nurse encouraged her to tone down the suicidal thoughts, find a puppy, and raise her own service dog. Karen did this, and Ben, a German shepherd, dragged her back into life. “How many people are stranded like I was,” she wondered, “who would lead productive lives if only they had a dog?”
A thousand state of the art dogs later, Karen Shirk’s service dog academy, 4 Paws for Ability, is restoring broken children and their families to life. Long shunned by scientists as a manmade, synthetic species, and oft referred to as Man’s Best Friend almost patronizingly, dogs are finally paid respectful attention by a new generation of neuroscientists and animal behaviorists. Melissa Fay Greene weaves the latest scientific discoveries about our co evolution with dogs with Karen’s story and a few exquisitely rendered stories of suffering children and their heartbroken families.
Written with characteristic insight, humanity, humor, and irrepressible joy, what could have been merely touching is a penetrating, compassionate exploration of larger questions: about our attachment to dogs, what constitutes a productive life, and what can be accomplished with unconditional love.
Pages: 352 Format: Hardcover Genre: Autobiography Author: Melissa Faye Greene
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