Monday, January 19, 2015

Top Dog The Story of Marine Hero Lucca by Maria Goodavage

War dogs are amazing.  They are very well trained, bonded to their human partner, and show no fear in the field.  How they are taught and the skills they gain add to their own natural intelligence.  This is the story of one of those dogs.

Dutton Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

I almost didn't read this one.  I love dogs, but I hate war.  My grandfather was in WW1, my father was in WW2, my uncle was in the Korean war and I lost classmates in the Vietnam war.  When it's non-fiction, there's no way to avoid the loss and hurt that goes with it.  I cried through this whole book.  But I also learned a lot about the dogs and their handlers and how important they are to the patrols they are traveling with.

Lucca is a big dog who became one of the most skilled war dogs.  She found guns, mortars, ieds, and even humans hiding.  She did it all fearlessly.  She would follow her human's vocal commands as she'd been taught.  And she continued to be the point after her original trainer changed his job to spend more time with his family.

Another thing I learned about these dogs:  They like Kong toys.  These are hard plastic toys that most dogs can't destroy.  I say this because there is one dog in this book who can shred one.  Keep your leg away from him!

The biggest redeeming factor about this story is that even though Lucca gets hurt by ied, she has a home to go to.  Her original handler adopts her and she's having a good life with her family now.

While I cried a lot, I smiled a lot too.  There's much to like about this story about a heroic dog who worked with heroic handlers.


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