Friday, January 9, 2015

The Dogs of Christmas, by W. Bruce Cameron

Forge Books, ISBN 9780765330550, October 2013

Josh Michaels, a website and user interface designer, still heartbroken from his girlfriend dumping him months ago, has a very pregnant dumped on him by his neighbor. The neighbor has a fraught story of the dog being dumped on him by his girlfriend who left, and having to leave the country immediately to bail out his brother in France. Josh has never had a dog, doesn't want a dog, but when his neighbor takes off, leaving the dog behind, he has to do the best he can.

Especially when the dog, Lucy, goes into labor.

As we get to know Josh, we find he's emotionally traumatized by the breakup of his family when he was a teen, and has no idea how to handle relationships. As he gets to know Lucy, the puppies she raises in his home, and Kerri, the very nice lady from the local animal shelter, Josh gets an education in dogs, but also emotional education, healing, and growth.

And then it's time to give up the puppies to their new homes, and Josh, who has always felt it's his job to keep his family together, decides he can't do it.

Cameron knows and loves dogs, and the people who love dogs. As many times as you'll want to whack Josh upside the head with a clue-by-four, he's never doing something stupid for the sake of the plot. He's doing it because he's emotionally damaged, has experienced rejection too many times, and has no idea how to express what he's really feeling. His pain, confusion, and even his joy when he gets a taste of it, are all quite real.

The dogs, from devoted momma Lucy to sweet, blind Cody, are delightful and heartwarming, and it makes total sense that confused, loyal, emotionally struggling Josh imagines it makes sense to keep all of them. I'm sidestepping the human relationships in this book, but they're well-handled, too.

This is a warm, sweet, heartwarming story. Recommended.

An interview with W. Bruce Cameron:

I bought this book.

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