Thursday, April 18, 2013

Comet's tale: How the dog I rescued saved my life by Steven D. Wolf with Lynette Padwa

I am something of a sucker for a good animal story, especially one where the human animal bond helps both the person involved and the animal - and Comet's tale ticked all the boxes for me.  Comet is a Greyhound, for many a commodity born and bred to race around a track for the betting pleasure of people who were in it purely and simply for the money, an animal that was discarded as soon as her value as livestock was over.  It could have ended there, with a Greyhound abandoned to die, muzzled in a box - but she was rescued by a Greyhound rescue organisation, one of an increasing number around the world rescuing these beautiful and misunderstood dogs from certain death all around the world.  But Comet wasn't just a victim of thoughtless cruelty, she was also about to become an important part in one mans life.

Steven Wolf, Wolf to his friends, was a lawyer who was squeezed out of his practice because his chronic pain condition made it difficult for him to work the long and demanding hours of his job, even though he had never let this partners down they protected their practice and themselves rather than take the risk of what might happen.  As his physical condition worsened Wolf moved to Arizona in the winter as winter in his hometown in Nebraska was becoming too difficult, worsening the impact of his back and chronic pain.  It was during his first winter that he met Comet and brought into his life a dog that needed him - but he would also soon discover that he needed Comet just as badly.

Over the following years Wolf experiences some of the rockiest years of his life, including worsening relationships with his wife and daughters - not only because of the physical distance separating them, but also the emotional distance separating them.  This is an intensely emotional book, an insight into the life of a man who is not afraid to bare his soul and show his flaws to the world, even if it took a few years for him to discover those flaws and work to overcome them.  It is also an intimate insight into the relationship between a man and the dog that decided he needed her, a dog that would beat all the odds and scepticism to become a service dog for Wolf when his chronic pain and back condition worsened and made daily living increasingly difficult.

It is not a sad book, or a book about beating yourself up about your mistakes - it is brutally honest and personal, but there are many times when I would laugh out loud and then have to read passages out loud for the rest of the family so they could enjoy parts of the story with me.  Comet is absolutely charming, and a complete flirt for any man in a uniform, and some of the adventures she has when trying to get closer to said man is absolutely hilarious.  Comet also breaks many of the stereotypes of the breed, and is a unique ambassador for the charms of the breed, which make excellent therapy dogs, and thanks to her work with Wolf we now also know that they can make exceptional service dogs as well.

This is a story about unconditional love, hope, and never giving up.  Both Comet and Wolf could easily have given up on life, but what they offer instead is a story of hope, that a mistreated dog can find love and trust again, and that a man who is broken can be mended in time.  I loved this book and hope that more people will discover the story of Comet and Wolf, one of the truest examples of the benefit of the human animal bond.  Charming and unforgettable.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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