Susan Wilson’s novel One Good Dog was published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Press (New York). It’s the riches-to-rags story of Adam March, a once wealthy business executive who loses seemingly everything in one fateful moment, finding himself left to pick up the pieces of his life alone. Half of the story is about Adam, and the other half is about a pitbull who was raised and bred to fight. Without giving too much away, the rough pair come together to help each other find their way to happier lives.
This is truly a feel-good story. I get nervous when I see movies and books about dogs, because I have what my classmate today called “Old Yeller syndrome,” the fear that I will melt into tears because the dog will die at the end (I ugly-cried in the theater when I saw Marley & Me). However, I will go ahead and say up front that this book has a happy ending, so don’t overlook it because you’re afraid it’ll make you cry.
It may not make you cry, but it will definitely touch your heart. It made me think about a number of things differently, including pitbulls, homeless and impoverished people, and people’s ability to change for the better. It’s hard in a cynical world to believe that people can make radical changes in their lives to become better than you ever thought they could be, but this book really encourages this positive belief.
An unusual element of this book is that the dog narrates half of it. When I first got to the dog narrator in Chapter 3, I was extremely skeptical about how believable and effective a narrator a dog could be. Something I’m guilty of that is also one of my pet peeves is when people impose human emotions on animals: I’m convinced that animals do have emotions, but I just can’t believe that they’re as complex as human emotions. But Wilson was very careful to get into a dog’s state of mind (however possible it is to do that) instead of just narrating like a human being but attributing the thoughts to a dog. She recognized in the text that the dog and the man thought differently. It was definitely interesting to think how dogs’ thoughts may be like or different from my own, after all, we’ll never know.
I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a quick, feel-good read. If you love dogs and want to be uplifted about the possibilities of change and goodness in human beings (and dogs), you’ll like this book.