Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

by Jim Gorant

Animal lovers and sports fans were shocked when the story broke about NFL player Michael Vick's brutal dog fighting operation. But what became of the dozens of dogs who survived? As acclaimed writer Jim Gorant discovered, their story is the truly newsworthy aspect of this case. Expanding on Gorant's Sports Illustrated cover story, The Lost Dogs traces the effort to bring Vick to justice and turns the spotlight on these infamous pit bulls, which were saved from euthanasia by an outpouring of public appeals coupled with a court order that Vick pay nearly a million dollars in "restitution" to the dogs.

As an ASPCA-led team evaluated each one, they found a few hardened fighters, but many more lovable, friendly creatures desperate for compassion. In The Lost Dogs, we meet these amazing animals, a number of which are now living in loving homes, while some even work in therapy programs: Johnny Justice participates in Paws for Tales, which lets kids get comfortable with reading aloud by reading to dogs; Leo spends three hours a week with cancer patients and troubled teens. At the heart of the stories are the rescue workers who transformed the pups from victims of animal cruelty into healing caregivers themselves, unleashing priceless hope.

I almost stopped reading this book before I even really got started just because I was afraid of the terrible, gruesome things that I was going to be forced to read.  The author does a great job of giving only enough info to make you understand how difficult things were for the dogs and the people in charge of rehabilitating them...but not so many details that any animal lover will want to curl up and die. 
Jim Gorant approached the book with a lot of compassion and understanding for animals.  There were moments when he had wonderful insight into these dogs and their behavior.  I was very impressed with it. 
My favorite parts were the short scenes written from the point of view of the dogs.  There was a lot of intuition and love in those parts of the book.  I think Jim Gorant is a man I would like to know. 
Although some of the book recounts the time before the dogs were rescued and the case of Michael Vick (rhymes with prick), I was glad that over half of the book was focused on these beautiful creatures and their struggle for a normal life.  It is not an easy book, though.  I was especially heartbroken over the story of Jasmine, a small red dog so severely traumatized that she would freeze up and play dead when any people were in the same room as her, and after many months of work could only handle being touched by the trainer and her young daughter. 
The attention and care of the men and women fostering these dogs was beautiful to read.  I'm glad there are people like them in the world.  

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