A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill is the autobiographical account of a young woman with cerebral palsy and her service dog, Slugger. The book deals not just with Leigh’s experience with Slugger and how he helped her, but also with the difficulties she faced on a daily basis just living with cerebral palsy.
In this narrative, Leigh is, at times, brutally honest about both her disability and the unkind actions of others in response to her physical disability. As a child she endured humiliation at the hands of schoolmates, strangers, and, disturbingly, at the hands of medical interns.
It’s easier to face the world with a friend on one’s side and that’s what Leigh discovered. Having Slugger at her side to accompany her everywhere, protect her, and help her with the simple tasks that Leigh was unable to perform made Leigh able to go out and about without fear of embarrassment or physical harm.
In fact, Slugger made friends easily. As most dog owners know, a dog is a great icebreaker. Strangers will approach people with dogs and begin conversations; children love to be around dogs. Most people respond positively to animals. Leigh found that Slugger made it easier to meet people and make friends.
Slugger was trained as are many service dogs for the disabled–almost from puppyhood. He knew almost 50 commands and could pick up objects as small as a dropped coin. Slugger could close doors, pull laundry baskets, and help Leigh get up. He was strong, loyal and intelligent.
Leigh explains that not only Slugger needed to be trained. Those who receive service dogs need training as well to learn how to care for and live with their dogs. The dogs provide an invaluable service to humans and in return they deserve the best that can be provided for them.
Leigh narratives the story well and includes enough description and dialogue to keep the reader interested. This is not a mystery or action adventure, but it is a love story. It’s the story of Leigh and her love for her steadfast helpmate and friend, Slugger.
For anyone considering getting a service dog, this book is a testimonial to the difference a wonderful dog can make in someone’s life. For those who do not need a service dog, this book is a reminder of the important part that canine companions can make in the lives of those around us.
Because of the language this book would be appropriate not only for adults but readers of any age.
Disclaimer: This book was reviewed through Netgalley in digital format.