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Book about pet dog turns into examination of rescue
 
Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin, foreword by Jim Gorant
c.2012, Barron’s
$22.99 / $26.50 Canada
324 pages

Your best friend is a slob. His mealtime habits would make Emily Post faint: he drools, gobbles his meals, leaves crumbs everywhere, dribbles water when he drinks and he wipes his mouth on the carpet. He leaves his belongings strewn around your house and he sometimes drags your things out, too.

If your best friend were human, you’d probably send him packing. But he’s not human, except in your eyes – and in the new book Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin, you’ll read the story of a best friend and his journey.

Kim Kavin spent her life in the company of dogs, so it was natural that when her beloved beagle died, she went looking for a pup to fill the empty spot in her heart. Like millions of prospective pet owners, she went online to do it, and as she clicked past face after adorable face, she spotted one that seemed to peer directly into her eyes.

The puppy was sponsored by a Pennsylvania rescue group near Kavin’s New Jersey home, but the dog itself was temporarily housed in North Carolina. Sure that this was The Dog, Kavin moved forward, got approved for adoption, paid the pup’s assorted fees and became Blue’s new mama.

Yet despite the fact Blue was just a baby, there were things that made Kavin wonder what had happened to him before he got to her. He seemed to be inexplicably scared of common things, and though he was sweet about it, the journalist in Kavin needed answers.

She started at the high-kill shelter where Blue was rescued from death in a gas chamber. She followed the trail to the homes of his rescuers, one of whom had dogs jam-packed into her messy house.
Kavin visited the veterinarian who neutered Blue and she learned about organizations that transport rescued dogs north to loving homes. Along the way, she learned some shocking statistics.
Americans spend nearly $15 million annually to fund animal shelters with gas chambers on-site. Almost 14,000 companion animals die in America’s shelters each day. And there’s one real way to stem the tide ...

Looking for a warm-fuzzy for a cool night? Then run from this book. Run, fast, because Little Boy Blue could give you nightmares.
Author Kim Kavin’s journalistic digging skills are keen. That means though this book leans a bit toward sensationalism and can be somewhat repetitious, her research is solid. It’s also painful, if not impossible, for pet lovers to read.

Yes, Blue’s story turns out happy, but Kavin tells abundant tales of dogs that aren’t so lucky; in fact, she makes you want to physically turn away from her words. Still, despite the horror she relates, Kavin offers readers, rescuers and willing foster families plenty of useful tips to help, as well as shining slivers of hope.

If you’re a dog lover, this book is going to agitate you. It may even spur you to act. For sure, you’ll want to hug your own pup tight, because Little Boy Blue might make you see red.

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Readers with questions or comments may write to Terri in care of this publication.
10/3/2012