‘The Puppy That Came for Christmas’ has had lots of reviews but this one by Elise Cooper is definitely my favourite. Elise is a fellow dog lover and has written some really great articles about dogs for American Thinker and elsewhere – including this one about the dogs of 9/11 http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/09/the_dogs_of_911.html and this one about military dog Sergeant Rex http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/meet_sergeant_rex.html.
We chatted for about an hour on the phone about our dogs and at the end I wished she could come for a dog walk with us – but California is a bit far to travel. Below is the review:
‘A book for animal lovers is The Puppy That Came for Christmas, by Megan Rix. Do not let the title fool you since just the last few chapters include Christmas, while the rest of the book takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride as Ms. Rix discusses how she and her husband, Ian, became Helper Dog puppy parents.
The author honestly and compassionately recalls how she and her husband found out that they had an infertility problem, shortly after deciding they wanted to have a child. After enduring the torturous road of schedules, constantly taking temperatures, blood tests, and doctor visits; they decide to become involved with a group that trains puppies to help people with disabilities; thus becoming puppy parents for a six-month stint. These puppy parents nurture and train their dogs so they can become a full-fledged helper dog. She found out that her emptiness caused by not being able to conceive was replaced by the mutual love between owner and dog, “I started being a foster dog parent not knowing anything about dogs.”
Megan discussed how there appears to be two types of dog owners: a “one” dog person and a person who after losing their dog for whatever reason must fill the void of not having a dog to come home to. She noted, “A house with no dog would be a miserable, miserable house. It never means you did not love the dog lost, but each dog has a different personality. I had four Golden Retrievers in my life. The first two dogs, Emma and Freddy were puppies we were raising to become helper dogs. Emma is a sweet, good girl, who always wants to please and tries to do her best. Freddy is a bombastic little boy that is very possessive. Traffy is my little lovely girl who is my companion and protector. Then there is the youngest, Bella who is ball crazy and when we saw her at the breeder’s she was swinging from an ornament on the Christmas tree.”
Having to give up Emma and Freddy after six months, Ian and Megan realized it was too hard and decided that they would become puppy parents for themselves, “a forever puppy.” The book goes into a lot of detail how these puppy parents had grown to love the puppies and the empty feeling they had when it was time to give them up. They knew deep in their heart it was the correct thing to do, but that did not make it any easier. “The dog becomes your life. It was very, very hard to give them up. What did help, as I say in the book, is to keep in touch with the people who became the dog’s new parents, the physically disabled. In fact, Emma was the flower girl in her dog’s partner’s wedding.”
What the author wants people to get out of the book is how the puppies filled the void of not being able to have a baby. She decided to expand on her weekly newspaper articles about each of her dogs and allow the reader to understand what it was like for a puppy growing up.
Two powerful quotes from the book, “(each dog) does a 1000 times more things for me than I could ever do for (them),” and “Every puppy was so different, so vulnerable, so in need of loving: how could we not love them entirely?” She explained that having a dog to love and care for could lift a person’s spirits since “they are a bundle of love. Every person should be able to cuddle up to a dog, waking up with that furry, kind face. You end up thinking about caring for more than yourself.”
This is no more evident than when she talked about Traffy’s current situation. Since the book ended with Traffy as a puppy she brought her readers up to speed by telling how Traffy, now five years old, had a growth the size of a baby. She had two major operations and now has a tube inserted that works like a catheter, which Megan drains three times a day. “I put a t-shirt on her to stop her from licking it and to keep it clean. Even though we really love the sea, we will not go since she cannot go in the seawater, having the possibility of the tube corroding. I want everyone to know Traffy is full of energy now.”
The book also shows how dogs can help take care of people. There is a touching story of how one of the puppy parent dog helpers developed cancer and the dog seemed to sense it. This dog could not adjust to being away from her and ran away numerous times to try to get back to the original puppy parent. Not to spoil the story the reader can discover what transpired.
Megan Rix’s next projects will be a three book fictional series about World War II dogs. The Great Escape, currently out, is about how dogs had to be abandoned and left behind during the Nazi bombings of London. Victory Dogs is about two puppies that become heroes during the Nazi blitz. The last in the series is about parachute dogs in WWII.
The Puppy That Came for Christmas allows the reader to experience a gamut of emotions with the author. It shows how dogs can help to enrich people’s lives and make them happy. Anyone who wants a book showing how dogs give unrequited love should definitely read this book.’