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The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption ~ Jim Gorant

October 11, 2010

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Genre: Sports and Dogs

Publisher: Gotham

304 pages

ISBN: 9781592405503

As I was nose deep into Gorant’s harrowing tale of many a bloody and brutal murder at the cruel hands of dog fighters, I was feeling October’s spookiness creep around me. My husband was out, the baby was asleep and all I could think of was the horrible acts of insane killing that went on only a few states above the one I now call home. Only slightly less chilling than the actual telling, was the fact that only months before the awful truth came out to the media about the Vick property, we had been so head-over-heels in love with “our” QB that we’d almost named our own dog “Mike”.

The fall had made its initial but rapid descent into cool Appalachian weather and was making itself known, loud and clear against the windows via the trees outside. Our older, albeit smaller dog, Teddy (Ted Williams being name-safe and very well dead), was stationed, in his cat-like position, curled up like a jellybean, high atop a couch cushion on the other end of the living room. Donnie (not renamed after the fact but, thankfully, never actually named for the former Falcons player) was nowhere to be seen.

I read on, clenching my teeth in fear as I thought about the cruel acts, described with a sports-writer’s cool, frankness. Just about the time this frankness was being applied to the ways (now less a spoiler than a scandal and sensation) in which the “dud dogs” or the ones who either couldn’t wouldn’t or shouldn’t be fought, were “let go”, I heard a thump. A heart wrenching, mind racing, Halloween-season “thump”.

My aforementioned heart stuck in my throat and I froze. I sat waiting for Teddy: The Fearless Wonder to rise up and attack. I waited for, the yet unseen, Donnie to act on some thread of what people so often refer to as this instinct within pit bulls to rip-tear-ruin.

As neither dog was heard from, I surrendered to my role as chosen house guardian. I shakily sat up from my previously warm hideout on the couch and peered down at where it sounded like the “thump” had originated. Suddenly, my heart slowed and I burst out into full out laughter.

I had found Donnie.

My rather ferocious “Bully” had been closer than I’d thought, though, perhaps he’d been dreaming of a far away place. He tends to sleep rump-up, melting off of the couch, slowly, very slowly, over the course of the evening. He had, indeed, melted right off of the couch. By this point, he had woken up and, being only bruised regarding his ego, was licking my face to his heart’s content, most likely attempting to curtail my giggles.

This has been a typical story in our day-to-day existence over the past four years following Donnie’s arrival into our lives.

Weird to think, then, that it took a horrific story like the one Gorant wrote about in Lost Dogs, to bring any bit of pit magic to the media. Of course, it will take many more such tales (tails?) to make much of a dent, unfortunately and with each heartwarming story of dogs rescued and rehomed, there will be those for whom a story of a dog fighting ring will only solidify the “monster myths” of pit bulls.

For me, The Lost Dogs was less about the political storm of who was right or who was wrong or what kind of person gets behind a statement like: Oh, please, they’re just dogs”. It was about people and puppies and second chances for both. Or sometimes neither.

I loved learning about the breed and the rescue culture (the specifically pit-bull versus “any dog” rescue) from the eyes of person who hasn’t been steeped inside the world of BadRap and BSL’s, yet. I often find that dog books are written by people who are dog-people or who were “saved” by pit bulls. Gorant’s books didn’t give that impression. It shed much needed light on the Pit-Rescue work being done nation wide but it could and should be read by the less fanatic pit-people.

It will be hard for people of dog leaning (or people who don’t like dying and stuff) to read the first bit but I promise it will be worth it. And Donnie will thank you. After he has collected himself from his recent battles with our (he is sure) very tricky couch.

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