Saturday, August 27, 2016

Service Tails: Morre Stories of Man's Best Hero by Ace Collins

If you're a dog person, someone who has your own tales of man's best friends, then you will
enjoy Ace Collins second book about four pawed heroes.  Collins shares twelve powerful stories of
dogs whose service training forever changed the lives of their owners.  First was Buddy, a German Shepherd trained in Germany, who became the eyes for Tennessean Morris Frank in the 1920's.  Through a Saturday Evening Post magazine article, Frank learned of Dorothy Eustis and the endeavor to train dogs as working companions for blinded British WWI vets. Frank convinced his family that he could travel to Europe alone, and after training with Buddy, he never again felt the prison like isolation that his blindness had sentenced him to.

Today, we are quite familiar with service animals, but still we probably do not understand the power the dogs have in changing their owners' lives.  Besides doing their "guiding" or "work" activities, they offer a way for those of us who are not disabled to overcome our hesitancy to interact with the disabled.  By approaching the animal or merely asking about the animal, conversation is started.  The ice is broken, and barriers fall down.  Several stories told of connections between dog and owner that went way beyond the initial training and duties.  Dogs trained to aid those with physical limitations developed the ability to identify oncoming seizures or muscle weaknesses.  Perhaps the most heroic story was about a Collie-Malamute mutt named Patches, who was not a service dog, but instead a family pet.  On a cold night in Washington state, Patches accompanied his owner Scott to check on a boat being battered against the pier by the December winds.  When the ice and wind sent Scott into the sub-freezing water, Patches entered the water to save his master.  Before the night was over, Patches would save his master, not once, but twice.  You have to read the book to find out how.

Collins also writes about programs that pair prisoners with shelter dogs, giving both chances to serve.  The prisoners learn how to train animals and use their skills to train the shelter pups.  The trained dogs then are placed with owners needing mobility support.  But perhaps the most "tear-invoking" story was the plight of Salty.  For  seven years Salty gave his all as a guide dog to an elderly Florida woman.  While the two were a wonder to see in action for many years, frailness and probably dementia caused the woman to relinquish the dog to a new owner, someone who chained the dog and was actually abusive.  Salty, who lived a life to please, lost all purpose and hope, until someone from a local collie rescue group learned of the dog's predicament and negotiated a rescue.

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse for my honest review.  I think that any animal lover would enjoy SERVICE TAILS.  The writing is simple enough that even upper elementary school students could handle the book, and I think it would appeal to reluctant readers who are dog people.

More about the book and author:

Service Tails (Abingdon Press, August 2016)

Heart-tugging true stories of the courage, faith, and loyalty of remarkable service dogs.

Not all heroic dogs wildly toss themselves into lifesaving situations. Some save lives simply by their incredible commitment to duty and service. Some lead the way to independence for people whose disabilities were supposed to limit their lives.

In Service Tails: More Stories of Man's Best Hero, prolific author Ace Collins introduces us to leaders whose entire lives are wrapped in the banner of service. Their stories are remarkable snapshots of the value of vision and teamwork, as well as devotion to duty and unconditional love and acceptance---stretching the way we see both canine and human potential. Their training was intense, their loyalty unquestioned and each step of the way they constantly adapt to better serve those they lead. These unforgettable dogs are more than heroes; they are models from which we can learn how to love and serve unconditionally.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children's works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas.

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