By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Your dog knows some pretty good tricks. Like most pooches, he’ll do anything for treats, including “sit” and “stay.” He can shake, roll over, and fetch; he gives kisses, picks things up, plays hide-n-seek, and he might even know how to keep you healthy and mobile.
Yes, your dog is talented in ways that surprise you every day. And in the new book “A Dog Named Boo” by Lisa J. Edwards, you’ll read about a pup whose talent is to change lives in very different ways.
Unable to hold his own against his brothers and sisters, the little puppy seemed weak. Lisa Edwards watched as its siblings stepped on and around the black-and-white “baby dog” and she couldn’t stop herself from falling in love.
Her two older dogs, Atticus and Dante, indicated toleration for the pup but Edwards’ husband, Lawrence, was against another pet. He’d just had major surgery, Edwards wasn’t in the best of health, and neither of them had time for a new puppy.
Edwards brought the little guy home anyhow, thinking Lawrence would come to love the boy she named Boo. She knew it would be an uphill battle – she and Lawrence were both also dealing with abusive childhoods – but this dog seemed to need what Edwards had to offer: a loving home, understanding, and guidance.
Boo grew to be a people-dog, so when Edwards’ brother fell ill and needed a service animal, Edwards thought Boo would be perfect. She tried to train him but even after repeated classes and training sessions, Boo seemed to be locked. He didn’t listen, couldn’t retain more than the most basic commands, and class-time was pandemonium.
Boo would never be a service dog, but Edwards sensed that he had empathy. He wasn’t ill-behaved, but he wasn’t an obedience star, either. He definitely wasn’t aggressive. It wasn’t until two veterinarian friends noticed his “silly puppy-walking” and diagnosed a congenital brain condition that everything finally made sense.
Because she was interested in training, Edwards tried another tactic by listening and observing. She watched for Boo’s strengths and worked around his weaknesses until she found a way for him to make a difference.
She never thought about the difference he’d make in her life.
With a good sense of humor, obvious love for dogs, and an amazingly open demeanor, Edwards tells the story of a hurting family, a handicapped dog, and the healing they did, separately and together.
The best thing about this book is that it contains a great story but, if you can read between the lines, there’s even more to gain. Because Edwards is a dog trainer, there’s plenty to learn in here; mainly, she subtly teaches her readers to pay close attention to their dogs’ behavior and body language to get the best results in training.
Overall, I think you should find this book for its lessons and savor it for its story. If you’re a dog lover looking for something to curl up with, “A Dog Named Boo” should do the trick.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with two dogs and more than 9,500 books.