“Gimme Shelter” is the raw, moving story of a chronically angry writer from a ‘Goodfellas’ family who finds salvation when he rescues an abused pit bull. This powerful, uplifting memoir chronicles the rocky journey to consciousness in which the damaged, timid dog winds up saving his out of control owner. When Louis Spirito and his wife went looking for a rescue dog, he insisted he was open to any dog in need. Secretly, Lou didn’t want just any mutt; he wanted a dog like Rebel, the rollicking Irish Setter that was his 4-legged wingman when he was a struggling young actor living the vida loca of sex, drugs & disco in 1980s NYC. For some men a mid-life crisis means a mistress or a Maserati. All Lou wanted was a big red dog, a four-legged time machine to transport him back to a time before mortgages, life insurance and prostate exams. The last thing on his wish list was a frightened, carsick pit bull. Unlike his fun-loving predecessor, Tanner was an emotional Geiger counter. He cowered at strange objects, flinched at sudden noises and vomited whenever he was stressed – which was most of the time. And why wouldn’t he be? His immature new owner was a raging bull who exploded at the slightest provocation - misplaced keys, computer glitches, even mayo on a turkey sandwich. Unlike Marley and John Grogan, it seemed that theirs was a case of 'good' dog vs. 'bad' owner. For this odd couple to flourish, one of them would have to change. And fast. Thankfully, the dog won out but it wasn't easy. And it wasn't aways pretty.
Spirito intersperses memories of his dysfunctional childhood with those of his adult life, including recollections of the love and companionship he received from dogs, in this sweet memoir. The author struggled with anger management until a pit bull changed his life. When Spirito and his wife began searching shelters, they were hoping to find an Irish setter, like one of their previous dogs. Instead, the couple are surprised to find themselves falling for a frightened, scarred young pit bull they name Tanner. Without realizing it, Tanner teaches Spirito to settle down and enjoy life for its simplicities rather than looking for provocations that will elicit his ire. Spirito ends each chapter with an informational section on topics such as preventing dog aggression and finding a dog trainer. Much of the information revolves around misconceptions about pit bulls, and Spirito offers statistics and advice about these much-maligned dogs. Dog owners, especially those who enjoy the companionship of shelter dogs, will undoubtedly recognize the deep sense of love and gratefulness that Tanner has for his family—a love that transfers to Spirito in ways he didn’t expect, but that make him a better person. Photos. (BookLife)