This deeply personal nonfiction account follows one family’s dog from adoption as a puppy to old age and, eventually, death.
Bear comes into the author’s life as a puppy, when the author and his sons go to a local animal shelter to choose a family dog. Over the next few years, Bear grows up, develops a friendly and lovable personality, and becomes very close with his family. As he grows older still, he begins to slow down and eventually becomes disinterested in things he once loved. The author takes him to the vet, and Bear passes away while in their care. The author then spends a few pages processing this loss and its impact on his family, and reflecting on the love pets share with their families.
Because Bear has a nice life, A Spiritual Dog: Bear is moving rather than merely tragic. That said, it’s a very detailed and personal story that feels more like a family tribute than a book meant for public consumption. For example, the author names and discusses the local animal care center, adding unnecessary details such as, “We also take Bear here whenever our family needed [sic] to leave the local area [sic] and they provide boarding services and care for dogs, cats, and other pets.” As is clear from this excerpt, the book contains punctuation and grammatical mistakes, including frequent switches in tense.
Finally, although death is certainly a part of life, some parents and guardians might not be comfortable with introducing the concept to their children just yet. They should be advised that it plays a significant role in this book.
A Spiritual Dog: Bear is beautifully illustrated and a lovely tribute to a beloved family pet, but it requires polish and a narrative with fewer personal details to lend it widespread appeal.