by Judy McFadden Print book
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Angelic Encounters in Canine Kind   (2010-12-03)
Every person who reads Life with McDuff by Judy McFadden is likely to have an incident to which they relate on a personal level. One of the moments that I most enjoyed was McDuff’s reluctance to get back into the car after a therapy session at Project PRIDE’s Opportunity Village—almost as though he were saying: “This is MY post. You, as an inferior human being, might be inclined to abscond from your post, but I REFUSE!” Another was where McDuff managed to get a severely disabled youngster to smile for the very first time by doing what cats and dogs do best—giving him a thorough licking over, in a way that was “soft, deliberate, focused, and much slower” than usual.
No matter whether you think of yourself as a hardened professional or as a bunny [or dog] hugger, you are likely to revel in Life with McDuff. This tale of redemptive and unconditional love that only a dog can give will most probably have you laughing and crying in turn. Although McFadden claims not to be a writer per se, her story of a therapy dog and its legacy is riveting from start to finish, and is so well written that the author disproves her own statement. And not only do McFadden and her trusty canine companion minister with true compassion to the needs of others, but she has also won an award from the Angel Animal Network for her acknowledgement of the presence of such beings in her life.
Life with McDuff becomes increasingly more focused on McFadden’s altruistic endeavors as one progresses through the book. In the first half, though, she tends to focus more on her own background, during which she is made increasingly aware of the needs of others. It is when she is subjected to an incident of extreme domestic violence that she first experiences the presence of a brilliant white light that she recognizes as her guardian angel, who, she believes, protected her from certain death on that fateful day. But, even before then, McDuff had come into her life—one of the feistiest Scottish terriers that you are ever likely to encounter. He was destined to become her “teacher, companion, and a source of emotional support through the most trying years” of her life.
A delightful and heart-warming book, Life with McDuff is unputdownable and inspirational. Not only does McFadden reveal the ups and downs of life with a therapy dog (the downs largely being due to McDuff’s defiant and determined nature—he was most definitely a dog who did NOT do tricks), but also gives insight into the functioning and importance of Therapy Dogs International and the AKC Canine Good Citizen<sup>®</sup> programs. This is definitely a book well worth purchasing and recommending to all your friends—it’s an ideal gift for Christmas time, or, in fact, for any time of the year.
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