Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #39: Fabookulous October 30, 2010

Oogy: The Dog Only A Family Could Love by
Larry Levin

Book description:

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twelve-year-old twin sons, Dan and Noah, brought their ailing cat into the neighborhood animal hospital to be put to sleep. What began as one of their family’s saddest days took a sharp turn for the better when the oddest-looking dog they’d ever seen bounded into the waiting room and into their arms.

Larry and the boys assumed that this white puppy had been in a fire- he was missing an ear and half his face was covered in scar tissue- but they were soon told a different story. He had been near-fatally injured as part of a dog-fighting ring in the area, discovered by the police, and left at the after-hours service of the hospital. When the hospital administrator found him in the morning, he was so bloodied and battered she knew he had a slim chance of survival. But, determined to keep him alive, she convinced her veterinarian boss to perform a series of surgeries and readied him for adoption.

The Levins- Larry, his wife Jennifer, and their sons- accepted him as one of their own from the moment they met him. As the rambunctious puppy matured into a loyal and protective member of the family (dubbed the “Third Twin”), he marked himself indelibly on their lives, healing long-held wounds and showing the twins, themselves adopted as infants, that unbreakable bonds can be formed in all kinds of families.

Oogy is about the power of redemption, and how animals and people can overcome the greatest of odds. And Oogy is an incredibly special animal, whose sense of security and being loved has persevered despite his trials. This one-in-a-million dog and his story will enter your heart and stay with you for a long time.

As is the case with most animal lovers, books like these are hard for me to get through for the sole reason of the fact that I don’t want to be sad. I hold a very special place in my heart for all animals, particularly dogs. While I enjoy memoirs that center around dogs and their lives (a favorite that comes to mind is A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz), stories that stem from an animal being abused, neglected, or mistreated in any way are harder. Even if I know they have a happy ending, the thought of what the dog went through and the fact that others still are abused on a daily, regular basis, absolutely breaks my heart. So I read Oogy with a great deal of caution, keeping an arm’s length of space so as not to allow myself to be sad.

That was hard to do given the situation. Oogy was a “bait dog” used to teach dogs how to fight. The fact that people in our country (or people ANYWHERE) participate in, train dogs to, and profit from dog fighting makes me sick to my stomach. I feel there is a special place in Hell for them. Dogs that are found as strays, homeless, or “free to good homes” may face the horrific and traumatic fate as a bait dog. Thus was the case with Oogy.

When Larry and his sons find him (or shall I say when OOGY found THEM, as ‘they’ say dogs find us), he was in the middle of rehabbing from a near fatal experience as a bait dog. He had lost one ear, had already gone through surgeries, had bandages on his heads, and was in pretty bad shape. The connection was instant among Oogy and the Levin boys. (I did find it interesting, by the way, the small role Larry’s wife Jennifer has in the book. Guess this is another example of dog really being man’s best friend) 🙂

With nobody to claim Oogy, Larry did not have trouble adopting him and bringing him home. I thought it was so sweet the way he talked to Oogy every day and loved that he promised never to cause him pain nor fear again. I believe dogs can understand us to an extent, and love this very real relationship this man and dog had from the very beginning.

When Oogy tears his ACL and has to go through reconstructive surgery as well as water therapy (which due to the panic he felt in the water, was modified for him elsewhere in keeping with Levin’s promise), it reminded me of LibraryLove’s Akitas, who have both undergone this surgery. The play by play was the exact same in the book, from the surgeons telling Levin what to expect, to his sleeping on the floor with Oogy to prevent him from climbing any stairs, to the water therapy. It was nice to read in familiar territory and made me feel that much closer to Oogy.

As  Oogy is still alive, this story does not end with death (refreshing for an animal story/memoir), rather it is a heartwarming collection of stories, moments, and love shared between the Levin family and their very special dog. It was touching and surprising to see the sweet mannerism’s of a dog who had been through the trauma he had. A miracle itself that he survived, it is truly shocking Oogy remained as sweet and loving as he did, both with other animals (he just wanted to play with everyone) as well as humans (the bond with the twin boys will make you smile as you flip through).

If you can face the reality of the animal abuse that goes on in this world (I realize sometimes it’s easier to pretend if we don’t hear about it, it doesn’t happen), then I recommend this book for you. Oogy is a special dog who received a second chance and then loved unconditionally. I can’t wait to meet him one day when we are in a place where dogs will never have to worry about being harmed again.

4/5 stars.



Book #30: Fabookulous September 4, 2010

The Intellectual Devotional: American History by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheim

Book description: Modeled after those bedside books of prayer and contemplation that millions turn to for daily spiritual guidance and growth, the national bestseller, The Intellectual Devotional-offering secular wisdom and cerebral nourishment- drew a year’s worth of readings from seven different fields of knowledge. In this follow-up volume, authors David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim have turned to the rich legacy of American history for their selections. From Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to Martin Luther King Jr., from the Federalist Papers to Watergate, the giant figures, cultural touchstones, and pivotal events in our national heritage provide a bountiful source of reflection and education that will refresh knowledge, revitalize the mind, and open new horizons of intellectual discovery.

A fun (and random) selection for me, I checked this book out at the library to learn some trivia about American history. Many of the topics were familiar to me, but there were fun facts and interesting tidbits compiled in this book. This is designed like a daily devotional, with 365 entries so you have one to read every day of the year. The book even comes with that glossy ribbon place holder (a.k.a. bookmark) that you’ll also find in Bibles.

The Intellectual Devotionals are available in different topics to (as the cover says), “Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Converse Confidently…” Entries from seven fields of knowledge are available on: Health, Modern Culture, Biographies, and the original Intellectual Devotional. On the New York Times Bestseller list, these books are informative, interesting, educational, and well-written.

Here, a few nuggets of information you may (or may not) already have known:

  • Thomas Jefferson grew 31 kinds of fruit in his orchards at Monticello, including figs, peaches, cherries, and grapes.
  • More than 40 universities operate in the greater Boston area, making it the center of American higher education.
  • Benjamin Franklin is the only American who signed all three of the key founding documents of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolution, and the Constitution.
  • When he agreed to lead the Continental army in 1775, George Washington declined a salary, asking only that Congress reimburse his expenses.
  • Although Central Park is probably the most famous park in the United States, it was not the first; that distinction belongs to Boston Common, which opened in roughly 1634.
  • A 700-pound monument to barbed wire in McLean, Texas, is composed of two balls of barbed wire.
  • During wartime, men who could prove a religious or moral objection to all war, not just the war being fought, could avoid military service by earning classification as a “conscientious objector.”
  • When Cornelius Vanderbilt died, his estate, worth more than $100 million, exceeded the holdings of the United States Treasury.

If you are an American history buff, if you need to brush up on your American history, if you enjoy learning facts and trivia, then I’d recommend this book for you. Read one, read them all, the Intellectual Devotional books are valuable resources!

4/5 stars

Happy Reading,