Monday, March 28, 2011

"A Dog Named Slugger" by Leigh Brill

"A Dog Named Slugger "by Leigh Brill
The heartwarming true story of Slugger, author Leigh Brill's trained service dog, who transformed Brill's college years as she struggled with congenital cerebral palsy. Brill is now a counselor and motivational speaker involved in the service dog community. She travels with Slugger's successor, Kenda.

Watch this video to learn more about the author and her story...

My thoughts...
As the title suggests, this is the story of a dog, but it's also the story of the author and her struggle with congenital cerebral palsy. Slugger, a large Labrador, became her canine companion when she was in graduate school. By that time, balance problems and weakness in her legs were causing her to fall frequently, and weakness in her hands made it difficult to even hold onto a pen. She could no longer deny her disabilities, as she had done all her life, and push herself to be "normal." Slugger became much more than her physical support; their bond gave her the life-altering confidence to face her limitations without shame.

We follow Leigh and Slugger through their training and adjustment to each other, Leigh's newly freed life with Slugger to assist her, and her first meeting with her future husband, Pranav. The new family comes together, and we follow their personal and professional progress. Slugger is dedicated and totally professional when his harness is on--and a typical playful Lab when his harness is off.

The writing is excellent and the story is poignant without being overly sentimental, although you will need a tissue or two, especially as the author reflects on her childhood and the cruelty of other children toward the "crippled" child. Classmates bullied her not only in elementary school, but even in college and graduate school. Slugger helped her stand up for herself emotionally as well as physically.

I think the end of the story is where I truly started feeling the tears....since this is real life, and Slugger is a service dog, the time comes when he has to retire, and Leigh, Slugger, and Pranav all have to adjust to the introduction of a new service dog into their lives and home, a female yellow Lab named Kenda. One of the most touching sections of the book concerns Slugger's aging, and the growth of the friendship between the two dogs, as Kenda starts to assist Slugger, too, such as when he wants to play fetch but has difficulty seeing where the toy was tossed.

This is a wonderful autobiography and an insight into the world of service dogs and those who rely on them. I loved the pictures at the end of the story - you really got to see Slugger in action :) I also loved how Leigh Brill invites the readers into her most personal life and leaves us wondering what else she has ahead of her in life.

I enjoyed learning about canine companion programs as much as I enjoyed reading the stories of the author and Slugger. I am a dog lover to the core, almost every member of my family is too! I will be recommending this book to everyone I know! This book could be compared to the first person narrative book called Marley & Me (which was turned into a film a few years back - also a big tear jerker, but very funny).

You can buy this book on Amazon (avail. April 2010).

Thank You so much Net Galley and Bell Bridge Books for allowing me to read this book! I cannot wait to read more books from you in the future!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Net Galley review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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