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Oogy ~ Larry Levin

November 1, 2010



Genre: Non-fiction Animal Rescue
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
224 pages
ISBN: 9780446546317

Any loss is terribly sad but the loss of a companion animal is one of the toughest, especially for a family.

When he took his aging cat to see the doctor for one last visit, Larry Levin thought he would be nursing an empty, feline-sized hole for quite a while. Upon his entry into the doctor’s waiting room, that day, however, he had another think coming. He and his twin, teen boys were greeted, on arrival, by the ugliest, cutest, most energetic, ball of white fuzz anyone of the three had ever encountered. According to Levin and the boys, it was love at first sight on all accounts. Part they could not.

And so began the story of The Levins and Oogy The Former Bait Dog.

I have to tell you something.

I made a huge mistake in reading Oogy.

That’s not really fair or even terribly true; I just made a huge mistake in reading Oogy after finishing Lost Dogs.

Simply put, Oogy was a cute, heart-warming fuzz ball of a story about a family that adopted a scraggly puppy.

Alright, that’s an over simplification, just like saying that Lost Dogs was just a book about the fall-out of a football player’s dog fighting ring. It’s basically that I had been through the first read and its brutal shadows, torturous trial scenes, rallying communities and, generally speaking, giant network-like feel of a story.

Gorant’s dogs were cool, hip, jaded college professors who had been around the world and back; Oogy was just a little kid that had been at the wrong end of the wrong playground at the wrong time.

I was craving another good pittie story and I was coming off of my Vick-tory lap from a heavier account. Falling into Oogy, without having the more monstrous, serious offense of the Moonlight story, I might have fallen in love.

My personal issues aside, Oogy is a dog lover’s book, through and through. Of course, it can be read as a plain-old, people lover’s book, too. Levin writes with such a warmth and care for his family and friends that it can be, at once, an ode to the puppy and to the people he lives with. As far as the pit-preference needed to read it, the levels are relatively low. The dog was used as bait for a month or two but then graduated to fight more medical and aesthetic hangups than BSLs.

Overall, it’s a book for the every-dog but will strike a special something for anyone who has ever welcomed a rescue dog into his or her home. And, again, if you need a little bit more meat on your rescue story, I do recommend Jim Gorant’s The Lost Dogs. ;O)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2010 5:05 pm

    I am on the fence about this one. I fell in love with that cute little face when I first saw the cover, but as an owner of a very meek pit bull, I am not sure I could handle some of the more sinister aspects of the story. It is for the same reason that I haven’t yet read Lost Dogs. The thought that anyone could do that to an animal is just horrifying to me, as are all the stereotypes that are hung on pit bulls in general. I might surprise myself by reading these books, but I know I am going to have to go about it in a semi-detached way.

  2. iwriteinbooks permalink*
    November 3, 2010 11:34 pm

    Ah, yes, I totally understand but maybe I’ll change your mind on Oogy ;O) (Lost Dogs will take just the right mood so I won’t push it on you…just yet).

    We have a four-year old adopted pit-ridgeback mix (the ridge-back is a guess but he has the medium to tall height, sandy/red coloring and the very distinctive “ridge”) who is, actually, we’re pretty sure, at least one part mix of snuggly teddy bear (of course, most pits are).

    We’ve always said that we “adopted” Donnie, rather than “rescued”, as he found our family at three months, via a pit-responsible organization, dedicated to seeing all dogs (but especially pits) go to very experienced, knowledgeable homes; it’s not likely that he’d ever, at that point, or even moving forward had he not gone home with us, have a bad day (aside from someone NOT giving him the cheesy bread so so so SO wanted. SOOO wanted…with sad pittie puppy eyes!)

    So, any way, we’re not the patron saints of recovering/recovered fighting dogs or other abused pups, but a pit in a loving, responsible home is a step in the right direction (ambassadoggie toward friends, family and neighbors, anyone?) in the pit and general dog world.

    Ah, but you didn’t ask for all of this! :O) I guess, I’m coming from mildly the same place and have, prior to Lost Dogs, really shied away from video documentaries, tell-all memoirs or even the occasional short essay in a doggie mag, about anything dog fighting. Morbid curiosity got the better of me and I actually liked the book, once it took off. Again, I won’t tell you to read Lost Dogs but Oogy is a totally different…er…tail?

    Oogey’s history is not very detailed aside from detailing how LITTLE they actually know about his past. For me, the hardest part was the reconstructive surgery done by the doctors post-rescue. He came to the vets’ emergency room very young so the deep, gruesome, emotional scarring of Lost Dogs and other similar stories, isn’t slammed home, all that much.

    I think, for the very reason it fell a teensy bit flat, for me, might allow you to read through it. It really didn’t get into the gory details (not that I WANTED the gory details; they just didn’t give as much personality building back story…mostly because, again, they knew very little OF it).

    Basically VERY long (sorry) story short: the thing I liked about it, the most, was the “just a dog” aspect of the whole book.

    As you and I know, pitties (and really “bully breeds” because Oogy, himself, is a dogo argentino, falling in the American standard of lumping every bull-like thing into a general “pit bull” category even though there are about twenty breeds and countless mixes stuffed into that category) are, at the end of the day, (or very enthusiastically at the very, oh, very! beginning of the, oh boy! day…) still “just dogs”.

    You don’t HAVE to read it BUT, now, if you DO, you’ll have to let me know what you think. :O)

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