Chantelle, a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, is the focus of this thin piece of fiction, which begins from the time of the pup’s birth and ultimately shows how it grows and evolves to protect its master.
Throughout the book, readers see the world from the dog’s point of view. The pup’s first awareness begins with its feeling of being surrounded by a cocoon and being licked by a strong tongue. Still in a fog of blindness, it learns through scent as well as pushing and rolling that it is surrounded by 10 others all seeking out mother’s milk.
As the pup grows, it acknowledges human beings, who offer food to teach certain behaviors. Eventually, Chantelle becomes the “top dog” and the only one kept from the litter by Ger, the owner, who works with young children in a crèche outside of Dublin. One day, Chantelle rides along and is left in the jeep while Ger and her young charges visit Parliament in Dublin. Chaos involving the Taliban ensues and the alert dog responds: “Panic mode. Something happening. Help required. Get me out of here.”
A dog’s view of life’s meaning is clearly described throughout the book and is recognizable by all dog owners: “FOOD, FOOD, FOOD. Look yes, I was addicted. It was all that I wanted.” While the writing is clever at times and aptly describes dog behaviors, it seems too simplistic for adult readers and too mature for children. In addition, seeing the final dramatic scene through the dog’s point of view somehow mutes the action to the point that it is rendered emotionally flat. The story further puzzles readers by ending abruptly.
While dog owners may lap up this style and get some chuckles out of it, the book needs a more defined purpose to reach a wide audience.
Also available as an ebook.