Rescued

You always know where your dog is.

Right now, for instance, he’s at Doggy Daycare. She’s getting groomed, or she’s at the neighbor’s for a visit. He’s outside or inside or laying right at your feet. No matter where he flops down, you know where your dog is but, as in the new book “Rescued” by Peter Zheutlin, you might not know where he’s been.

An empty nest was staring him right in the face.

Peter Zheutlin wasn’t relishing the idea of a house without his sons. Ever since they were small, he’d been a work-at-home Dad and he knew he’d miss their day-to-day company. Empty Nest Syndrome, that’s what it was — which was why, perhaps, after 20 years of saying “no” to getting a dog, Zheutlin finally agreed to get a dog.

This wouldn’t — couldn’t — be just any dog, though: Zheutlin had previously written a book about rescue dogs and the organizations that save them. He’d come to understand the importance of rescue, so he and his wife began there with a website search, a video, and they fell in love. And so, after several weeks of nervous waiting, Albie came to live with the Zheutlins.

There was, of course, a learning curve on both ends of the leash.

Albie, a yellow lab, had been a stray, so his background was totally unknown. He seemed at least partially trained but there were times when he was growly and overly-protective, problems that intensified when the Zheutlins adopted a companion for Albie.

For his part, Zheutlin wanted to let Albie “be a dog,” to allow squirrel-chasing and rabbit-grabbing. He had to learn to ignore doggy-messes and bits of fur in his otherwise spotless house, and he had to relinquish his clean car. And though you should never, ever call him a doggy “Dad,” he learned that dogs are a lot like kids, and you hate to see either one of them leave…

There’s a lot to love about “Rescued,” beginning with the fuzzy face on the cover and the promise of more inside. And there are two things that may make you growl.

Starting with the decision to open his life to a pet, author Peter Zheutlin speaks to the heart of dog lovers everywhere with the journey he describes on his way to being a newly-minted dog-person. The path will charm readers in its earnestness to do right by Albie, and by the emergence of love for a dog.

What’s not so fun? There’s advice in this book, but it may feel tinged with opinion, or even controversial. Also, there’s the scolding that readers get for anthropomorphizing their dogs and for calling themselves “parents.”

Seriously: Who’s going to the doghouse for that?

If you’re a dog lover from way back, be patient with what you might find here; this book is good but may make you snappish. If you’re thinking of getting a dog, this may show you where to go. And if you’re looking for a few sweet tales, then “Rescued” is where it is.

(Terri Schlichenmeyer developed her love for books at an early age and was reading by age 3. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with her two dogs and thousands of books.)

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