Monday, January 14, 2013
Paws for Peace
WALKING THE DOG features two such dogs. One is Fuzzy, a big golden retriever that comes to Jared’s school with the guidance counselor. Then there’s a rambunctious, half-grown lab pup that’s in training to be a therapy dog. It’s while walking this new dog that Jared and Sophie begin to develop a close friendship.
About once a day Mr. Gannon, the school counselor, comes to class for Sophie. When someone goes with Mr. G., we all know what it’s for. To talk about their problems—or as Mr. G. likes to say “things that are troubling you.”
Personally, I’ve never been called to Mr. Gannon’s office, but I know lots of kids that act like they have problems just so they can go. Mostly, they want to a) get out of class, or b) play with Fuzzy—Mr. Gannon’s therapy dog. Fuzzy is this huge golden retriever that comes to school with Mr. Gannon every day. Mr. G. brings him into the classrooms occasionally, and Fuzzy loves to be petted.
Mr. G. also lets us walk Fuzzy with him on the playground. That dog’s tail is a perpetual motion machine, and he looks right at you with big golden eyes, like he understands everything you say to him. So when Mr. Gannon comes for Sophie each day, we all know she’s going to spend time with Fuzzy and talk about her “troubled past.”
One morning Mr. Gannon comes into class without Fuzzy. Instead, he’s holding a gangly black puppy who’s trying to nibble on his ear. “Sophie,” he says quietly. He tries not to disrupt our social studies lecture, but we all laugh when the puppy squirms so hard that Mr. Gannon almost drops him. “Sorry,” he says, as he grabs the delinquent dog and escorts Sophie down the hall. It’s hard to concentrate on Westward Migration after that. We all want to know about the new dog.
Here’s the official blurb:
Jared feels like he's the only one who looks past Sophie's scars to see her for who she is. But can he be a true friend when she desperately needs one?
Jared is smitten when his teacher seats the new girl, Sophie, right next to him. Even with the scar running up the side of her face, Jared thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the entire fifth grade. But why did she transfer here so late in the year? Rumors say something bad happened to her.
Jared and Sophie become friends while walking the guidance counselor’s new puppy, but when his parents object to this arrangement, Jared fabricates a series of elaborate lies to meet Sophie on the sly. But little brothers can be pests. First Petey lets the orange cat loose at the animal shelter where Jared and Sophie have been secretly walking the dogs. Then Petey turns up missing.
And Sophie's past finally catches up with her.
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There are more dogs in WALKING THE DOG. During the summer, Jared and Sophie meet secretly to walk shelter dogs, which are locked in kennels awaiting someone to love them. And don’t forget the orange cat, who ends up playing an important role in this story.
If you love animals, if you love friendship stories or coming-of-age novels, I hope you’ll give WALKING THE DOG a try. It’s a relatively short read, but with a lot to say.
Her genuine passion for nature and animals often finds its way into her heartfelt writing. She has been a veterinary assistant, zoo keeper, race track groom, realtor, children’s librarian, and owned both a native plant nursery and a saddle shop.
Linda lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a variety of animals, all of them adopted. When she's not petting a dog, cat, horse, or donkey, traipsing through the woods, or enjoying a good glass of wine, she's most likely working on her next book.
Learn more about Linda Benson on her website and blog. Linda is also on Goodreads. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.