Hughes was motivated to adopt Barbie when her behavior deteriorated at the dog shelter. She was not just withdrawn; she shied away from any and all contact, especially from men. This was in stark contrast to most shelter dogs, who are eager for human contact. She was days away from being euthanized when Hughes' friend Jenny, who acts as a sort of Greek chorus in this telling, urges him to adopt. In clear, resonant language, Hughes details everything that he tried with Barbie in order to make her feel comfortable, noting that he made many mistakes along the way.
Some of the difficulties include aggressiveness toward other people, frequent house-training accidents, and Hughes’ own sleep deprivation, before Hughes accepts that he’s out of his depth and turns to trainers to help—and even then learns that not all dog experts are created equal. The result is that after many patient weeks and months, Barbie both bonds with him and is conditioned out of most of her negative behaviors. Hughes has written a touching memoir of the relationship between human and pet that offers an unflinching look at the real doubts that plague adopters of animals. It also offers hope, plus helpful and concrete solutions, for people facing similar challenges.
Takeaway: Touching memoir of adopting, training, and loving a dog with behavioral issues.
Comparable Titles: Amy Sutherland’s Rescuing Penny Jane, Cara Sue Achterberg’s 100 Days and Counting.
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Marketing copy: A