It is seldom that I get really excited about a book release -- but today is different.
Today, The Lost Dogs - Michael Vick's Dogs and their Tale of Rescue and Redemption goes on sale today.
The book was written by Sports Illustrated Writer and Editor Jim Gorant -- who wrote the cover story on the Vick dogs for the magazine back in December 2008. The story received the 488 emails and letters in response to it -- nearly al positive - and was the most response of any article in SI that year.
20 months later comes the book -- which has also received a lot of great press.
I confess that I'm not completely finished with the book -- my vacation schedule and the US Postal Service crossed paths and I wasn't able to take the book on my trip -- but thus far I'm nearly 1/2 through it will be well worth your time and money to read.
The book is written in 3 parts. Part 1 "Rescue" is an extensive dig into all of the details surrounding the investigation into Mike Vick's dog fighting ring, and how the feds, not the county, ended up prosecuting the case. For people looking for the warm fuzzies of feel-good stories, this section will be a bit of a shock to you. It was at times heartbreaking and saddening to read, but I thought incredibly interesting (particularly in areas where reports of dog fighting on the property had been made to authorities at least twice over a two year window prior to the final raid, but authorities took no action).
Part 2 "Reclaimation" takes a look then at how the dogs went from death row to available to go to rescue groups and all of the legal pieces that that entailed, including the evaluations. It addresses how the assumption was that these dogs would be far too aggressive to ever go into homes -- and yet, several people in high-powered positions were willing to take a change at evaluating the dogs - -and how the dogs, themselves, all had responded differently.
Part 3 "Redemption" takes a look at the stories or recovery for the dogs -- and in particular the rescuers who took in the dogs and worked on their recovery. It shows the challenges and triumps. Many of the stories you're likely familiar with - dogs like Hector, Georgia, Gracie and Leo are certainly part of the book. But the stories of all of the dogs are there.
Throughout the book, Gorant also provides a possible look at the entire situation through the eyes of the dogs as the story unfolded around them - which gave some great insight into the dogs as the victims - and victors - in this situation.
For more on the book:
Bad Rap's Review (and they should know, as they are key players in the book).
Enjoy the book - -and thanks to Gorant and Sports Illustrated for taking the time to tell the stories that need to be heard.
I think the book is a fascinating read -- and I learned a lot about a story I already knew a lot about. I also think that it's interesting that in so many ways, Mike Vick has become an afterthought on the total story. In so many ways, our learnings about the dogs, and their ability to adapt and still love in spite of beng initially surrounded by humans that failed them has transcended the story of the celebrity athlete that used to own them....and that's pretty cool.
And I think that the book does an awesme job of driving the story home. From the book's press release:
"At it's core, The Lost Dogs is a lesson in the distrssing folly of discrimination and fear-driven hype -- the unfortunate fact is that most people are afraid of pit bulls, when in reality, they are some of the most loyal, playful and loving dogs around. Not all the stories have happy endings, but every one of them features acts of selfless devotion on behalf of the people, boundless perseverance on the part of the dogs, and inspiring hopefulness by all. Amazingly and contrary to even the highest hope, almost every dog survivd the ordeal and many went on to become loving pets, therapy dogs and adored members of their communities, proving that even when exposed to atrocioius abuse a dog still wants to be man's best friend."
And it delivers on that promise.