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Book Review

‘The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances’


bookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Harriet Leitch

Houghton Mifflin

August 5, 2014


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304 Pages

It took a while, but eventually this book started to fascinate me. At first it seemed as though the main character, Evie, acquired an understanding of the dogs far too quickly. Also, she seemed to be too self-absorbed to be an admirable main character. However, as the story progressed, Evie and the other characters became more real.

Evie arrives at an inn at the bottom of the mountain and is not greeted — not even by the innkeeper. She has applied and been accepted as a trainee in the Sanctuary, where rescued dogs are rehabilitated until they are ready either for a forever home or for further training as a service dog. She is introduced to one of the dogs — not by a human but by the dog itself. She makes many mistakes the first days, but is unwilling to give up, eventually earning the right to go up to the Sanctuary. Evie considers this her last chance at proving herself capable of moving beyond her past struggles. Evie is a researcher, and the definitions she carefully documents show her development.

The varieties of situations from which the dogs are rescued (trained to fight, puppy mill female, abandoned on a city street, to name just a few) demonstrate the need for shelters and rescuers in our world. A photo at this year’s Iowa State Fair suggests a cure. The photo shows hands in the “you are in good hands” position, with a small puppy snuggled up in them. The photo’s title is “Responsibility.” CV

Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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