Sunday, December 13, 2015

Judy: A Dog In A Million by Damien Lewis


I requested this book after reading about Rags (From Stray Dog to WWI Hero), I decided I wanted to read it from the title alone. Between getting a copy and starting it, I had a few other books on my list to read. When I got to this book, I actually got a little apprehensive. Rags made me sad, and I began to contemplate whether I was emotionally alright with reading this book. I pretty much have a breakdown whenever an animal is harmed on TV or in a movie or a book. But I decided it must be a good story and even though the dog most likely dies (not a spoiler, this took place during WWII), I wanted to read it.

First off, I must confess that I had no idea about the POW camps in Asian during WWII. In short, all the allied forces and Americans in the area were rounded up and made to build railways through impossible terrains.

Judy was chosen as a gunboat mascot from a kennel in Shanghai. While she was an excellent mascot, and saved her shipmates lots of trouble, Judy would soon do so much more.

Judy was inspirational to many people in the far east POW camps during WWII. More people knew of Judy than they did the hell railroad that the POWs were forced to build, and many former POWs say that their pets in the camps kept them alive, by giving them a little normalcy and something to stay alive to care for.

I fell in love with Judy's humans, as well, when Olivar and Wuley saved her and Tank made a fool of himself trying to train her.

I also learned a lot through this book. I am an animal lover (yes, I am a cat AND dog person!) and a dog owner. I thought I knew a lot about dogs, but this book gave me further insight. For example, I was unaware that dogs could pick up scent through their whiskers, and their "superior smelling abilities are intensified by a scent detecting organ, the voremonasal, situated in the roof of their moth, which is completely lacking in humans, and one that we, as yet, little understand."

I was super impressed with how smart Judy was! She learned to communicate with her many humans in a way to get what she wanted, and later what was needed to save their lives. I cannot believe how amazingly intelligent and brave she was.

She chose her own masters, and protected her family with all she had (and then some).

Even when struggling for her own life, she used all the strength she could must to rescue everyone she could. And her story is a prime example of the strength in a dog's loyalty. She was loyal to her masters and her family above all else. However, that loyalty was not one-sided, and had her human family not risked their own lives, Judy certainly would not have made it through the POW camps.

While I like that the author included the inscription on Judy's tombstone at the end of the book, I thought that more could be said to wrap up the end of the book.

Nonetheless, this book was excellent! With more dogs like Rags and Judy, and more people like their humans, the world would be a much better place.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.