Book Review: Ugly Rescue Dog is a Hero

The first time I read this book to the children in my life, their reaction was a combination of fear and concern. I had to encourage them to read the story to the very end, so we could enjoy the happy ending.

The reason there was such a strong reaction is because the main character is Spike, a dog who is naturally so ugly he wins an ‘Ugliest Dog in the Universe Contest.’ Immediately after winning the contest, his owner ties Spike to the porch and moves away, leaving the dog behind. Not only does this awful man abandon the dog, he also gleeful shouts insults at the animal as he drives away.

Yeah, that guy is mean.

The neighbor boy starts caring for Spike and wants to adopt him. As it turns out, Spike is an extremely well-behaved dog, so the only objection the boy’s mother has is financial. They can’t afford a pet.

All of this is told, first person, by Spike. The pictures are lovely and there is nothing scary, violent or threatening about the images. The tension is created by the story itself. But the experience of being called names, forced out of a family or circle of friends and wanting to belong are easy for children to empathize with, and Spike is a genuinely nice and lovable dog who doesn’t deserve to be treated so badly. So, around this household, the reaction to the story was rather emotional during the first reading.

In the end, not only is he adopted by the neighbor boy, Spike also rescues the neighbor’s cat (a prize winning show cat) from a would-be kidnapper and is featured in the local newspaper as a hero dog, which is much better than being the ugly dog.

Spike is thrilled when people ask if Spike is the Ugliest Dog, and his new owners respond with:

“Actually, he’s the most beloved dog in the universe – and this is just the boy to take care of him.”

The happy ending is an excellent resolution and the story is equal parts sad, exciting and happy. After that first reading, this became a family favorite. It’s the kind of story kids like to hear because they know how it will end.

Spike, the Ugliest Dog in the Universe by Debra Frasier

Bragging Rights: New Cat Mommy


Meet Gracie and Billy, the newest additions to my household.

They are three-month-old kittens from the same littler. They came from a shelter, so the breed is either ‘American Shorthair’ or ‘grey and black rescue cats.’

Both are full of energy and spunk but Gracie is the smaller and fiercer of the two. Billy generally just get’s out of her way when they are playing with the cat toys.

It’s been a wonderful change.

Pet Shop Escape!


Mina lived a few doors down from the pet shop. Every day she heard the neighbors complain about the bad smell and terrible cries of the unhappy animals, but no one was brave enough to complain about the terrifying owner…Once the animals were all together, Mina opened the door and they ran in a great stampede of fur and feathers across the rumbling bridge.

The Pet Shop Revolution by Ana Juan

Beautiful Rescue Dog


“Actually, he’s the most beloved dog in the universe – and this is just the boy to take care of him.”

Spike, the Ugliest Dog in the Universe by Debra Frasier

The Real Winnie The Pooh

Like most people, I grew up watching cartoons and reading stories about Winnie The Pooh. Pooh bear is still very much a part of the Disney landscape and, therefore, popular culture.

What I did not know, was that Winnie was an actual bear who served time with the Canadian military (yes, she was actually a part of the military!) during WWI. Harry Colebourn, a military veterinarian (they were still using horses in combat during WWI) rescued the bear at a Canadian train station and named her Winnie, which is short for Winnipeg. Winnie tagged along with Harry all the way to Europe, until the war made it impossible to properly care for the bear and forced him to find a better home – at the London Zoo.

Winnie remained at the zoo for the remainder of her life, which is how she met the real-life Christopher Robin, who was the son of Alan Alexander Milne, the author of the original Winnie The Pooh stories.

As an adult, I read this story thinking…um…really?…Wow! All of these years of seeing Pooh Bear in television, movies and storybooks and I had absolutely no idea! It’s amazing what you can learn when you visit the local library. 🙂


“In 1919, just before Harry returned to Winnipeg, he made another hard decision. He decided that Winnie would stay at the London Zoo permanently. Harry was sad, but he knew Winnie would be happiest in the home she knew best.”

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who inspired Winnie-The-Pooh, written by Sally M Walker and Illustrated by Jonathan D Voss



“She had been rescued from the broken spaceship and taken far away from the lonely life she had known by a loving family that she had always dreamed of finding.”

Laika Astronaut Dog by Owen Davey

Author’s Note:

On November 3, 1957, Laika became the first animal to orbit Earth when she was launched into space in the Sputnik 2 rocket.

A few hours later, Laika‘s spacecraft malfunctioned. Though many think she perished, this story, with its happy ending for the brave little dog, is the one I choose to believe.

Wanting to Belong


“He had belonged to someone once and she had belonged to him…Someone who knew his name. Now everyone called him Get out of here! But the scrawny cat knew his name was not Get out of here!”

“The woman took the scrawny cat inside her house.”

“Skipper isn’t scrawny anymore. He is a real sailor cat now. But best of all, Skipper belongs to Emma and Emma belongs to Skipper.”

Scrawny Cat by Alison Friend

Please Come Inside


“Won’t you please come inside and get warm? Dragon asked. But the fat cat did not come inside. The fact cat just sat in the snow and said, “Meow!” …Dragon went outside and scooped away at the snow. He scooped and scooped until he found the cat. “You are coming with me,” said Dragon. And he took the cold cat inside.”

Dragon Tales by Dav Pilkey

In the spirit of cold weather animal rescue, here are a few more links:


Max Comes Home


“Max!” they shouted with joy.
“Are you staying with us all winter?”
“Yes,” said Max. “Me and My Flock!”
Everyone looked at Irene, hoping she would say something. But all she could say was “Welcome Home!”

Duck at the Door by Jackie Urbanovic

Some information about wild birds and winter:

If Big could only see…


“If Big could only see how great it is inside my den. Here I can swing into the air…running fast and leaping long! But Big’s not there…I’m all alone and that’s no fun. So… Whatever Big can…and whatever I can…We can…Together!”

If Big can… I can by Beth Shoshan and Petra Brown

The main character in this book is a Koala, so here is a little more information about Koalas: