Book Review: Ugly Rescue Dog is a Hero

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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

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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!

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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

Heart First, Skills Second

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“You’ve got a lot of heart, kid,” he says. “The rest – you can learn.”

Rescue Bunnies by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin

Beautiful Rescue Dog

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“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

Polar Bear Cub Goes Home

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Polar Bear Cub looks around. There don’t seem to be any other polar bears here. Then they hear something coming toward them. Mama!

Red Knit Cap Girl To the Rescue by Naoko Stoop

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Professional Caretaker

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I could picture Petra’s face, the self-mocking pout she puts on when she knows she’s being a brat. The trouble was, of course, I would come to her rescue. And she was banking on that. Growing up the way I did, my mother dying when I was in high school, my father forced to turn the house and meals over to me, I felt as though I’d been born old. I was tired of my own knee-jerk reaction. You’re in trouble? Say no more. V.I., the grumpy cousin, will bail you out! I wished I knew how to turn off that particular switch. I wondered for a moment if my whole detective practice was built on my private history of being an adolescent caretaker.

Body Work (V.I. Warshawski Novels) by Sara Paretsky

Digging Friends Out of the Snow

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“Little Hedgehog sighed happily. “And what would we do without our friends?” Then, by the soft silver light of the moon, they chatted and giggled all the way to Badger’s house.”

One Snowy Rescue, Written by M. Christina Butler and illustrated by Tina Macnaughton