Review: Huck

Posted on November 16, 2010

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Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family – and a Whole Town – About Hope and Happy Endings
By Janet Elder
Broadway Books
September 2010
304 pages

I seldom pan a book, especially a dog story. A more apt sub-title for this book might be “Huck: The Wrong Way to Raise a Puppy”. Elder began this recipe for disaster with the revelation that her son Michael wanted a dog so badly that when he was ten years old he created a PowerPoint presentation to lobby his parents. Even the page captioned, “A Childhood Without a Dog Is a Sad Thing” did not melt their cold New Yorker hearts. All of Elder’s excuses for resisting a dog were selfish. Once she decided Michael could have a small dog, she made him endure her cancer treatments first. When they finally adopted a toy poodle puppy, Elder dismissed the dog trainer and described training as “overdone for such a small dog”. In her mind the notion of a dog trainer was “an over-the-top, New York thing to do” and “embarrassing”. Luckily Huck spent his first four months with the breeder so he was mostly housebroken and crate trained, because his new family didn’t bother to teach him to come when called. That proved to be their undoing. When they left Huck with relatives while on vacation, he ran away. The remaining chapters involved Elder and family and an entire town in an excruciating game of hide-and-seek with poor little Huck who fled in confusion at the sight of them because he was never taught trust – or to come when called. In the end, while Elder claimed to have learned much from the experience, she never divulged whether she learned her lesson about the importance of dog training. Too bad for Huck.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Peggy Tibbetts

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