SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
But seriously, this book is totally worth the profanity. Like, who the hell cares, right? People are who they are, and Jackson Galaxy rocks in my book. This is one incredibly messed up man who I can completely relate to, having made some pretty poor choices in my time. (It's hard out there! It's hard in here! It's hard!) He gives us, the reader/listener complete access to his life, no excuses, well, plenty of the excuses he made at the time, knowing how totally full of it he was (is that bravery, honesty, or what?), and let's us walk/stagger along in his shoes. It's quite a journey. Especially when we get to the two, what my husband and I call, God Moments:
He applies, and gets a job at an animal shelter.
He offers to foster, then adopts a horribly injured cat named Omni (OMNI, for gosh sakes! Whatthehell?!?)
The book up until Omni/Benny is pretty great. Because Galaxy's got the gift o' the gato. If you love cats, you'll be reassured of some of the things you've been using already, and you'll learn a few more things. I remember this one cat I worked with after Hurricane Katrina: It was so terrified in its cage, would NOT sleep. I crouched away from it, did the gentle blinking, softly stroked the blanket by the opening of its cage and whispered rhythmically until I could get it to fall asleep. Took 1hr. 15mins. and I stayed there so it could have 20 mins. REM sleep and I was in PAIN. But as Galaxy says (and demonstrates) over and over through this wonderful, marvelous book: Screw all that! They are SO worth it!
The real wonder of the book comes with the arrival of Benny because Benny is an eye opener, a game changer, the best damned cat ever.
Benny's the kind of cat that makes you swear you'll write a book about
Benny's the kind of cat that makes this an, oh-so worthy listen!
I was totally burnt out, had been reading a lot of nonfiction re: totalitarian regimes, genocide, famines. The last thing I was in the mood for was war. I was searching for a nice, uplifting animal book. Full Disclosure: I'm a sucker for a good animal book. "The Dog Who Could Fly" came up, and Military History? With a Dog? I suddenly got my second wind and I was SOLD!
The story follows Robert Bozdech from his fateful rescue of Antis through life during the war. This is a great audiobook of a jolly decent length (not short by any means), so it's packed full with a touch of the mundane (life on base with a really lively dog, and also, just how does one go chatting up a woman on a train when your dog haaaates her?), but mostly full of the daring and dangerous missions of the servicemen.
I know that animals aren't capable of sitting back, weighing life and death decisions, but honestly. Antis seems to do just that. His absolute devotion to the men, and to Robert above all others is astounding. You'll get to know many of the men who loved Antis, and it's extraordinary how creative they were in helping to keep Antis on base, or in helping Antis to fly: in their eyes, he was one of them.
I won't throw in any spoilers, but there's one part I almost stopped listening near the end. Robert, intending well, I guess, decides there needs to be a "tough love/things-must-happen-this-way" for such and such reasons. It was horrible to listen to because things go terribly awry (Note to Robert: You can't turn love on and off like a light switch).
Listen through it, stick with this book. It's a heartwarming, exciting "read."
This would be a 3.5-star review because of textual flaws (and almost painful narration), but it's so important it really needs to be heard.
If you're an animal lover, don't worry: while brutal, it's not too terribly graphic, and... well, get a grip. This is what happens. This is why you love them and want to do something for their well-being. This is why you never want to buy a Michael Vick jersey. Seriously, I saw a documentary on him after this was all over, and he seemed so genuinely contrite that I thought, gee, maybe he really got it and regrets his actions (and I'm almost militant when it comes to holding grudges!)
But after listening to his actions prior to his court appearances? The many, many protestations of innocence? The rearranging of funds? The purchases he made while others were caring for the animals he brutalized? I'm not feeling that warm and fuzzy about him right now.
But let's go back to the book. The flaws. If you can get past the first part, you're golden. Because it does some plodding. And really. We don't need to have the "thoughts," the "feelings," stated for us. I believe that animals think and feel, but to have an author point out exactly what's going on in their heads is unrealistic and annoying. Go by their actions, their responses. Those are suggestive enough of the trauma they've suffered, what they must've endured. Those will haunt you and make you damned near cry because you'll be able to fill in the blanks very well on your own. The necropsy report on how one dog in particular died will appall and enrage you (if you have even one sensitive bone in your body).
The second flaw is the narration. Garcia isn't wretched, not the worst by any stretch of the imagination, but he delivers the text with such silences between sentences, such pregnant pauses, it's hard not to doze off if you listen after work, and you're kind of tired. (Fortunately, anger will rear it's head, and you'll wake up because of the story.) Also, it's not until the end that he slips in emotion or emphasis to what he's reading. And that's startling because really, it's unexpected at that point since he's spent most of your listening hours in something short of a monotone.
But, BOY! What a story! This is about justice. It's about fear. It's about overcoming fear and learning to trust, to love, to live and breathe. And it'll make you want to hug your dog (or cat, or hamster) and watch them as they enjoy the lives you've given them. Because some animals have never been able to run and play. Some have never known the excitement of a new smell. Some have never known the comfort of a soft hand or a kind word. And bravo to the rescue groups who step in here, most of them smaller and not so well-funded or well-known. Bravo to the foster people who really take their time and put their hearts and souls into doing whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to bring peace and joy into the lives of the abused.
Michael Vick flunked a drug test during his time before sentencing: said he smoked the marijuana because all of the stress "the ordeal" put him through. Too bad his dogs didn't have anything like pot... for what he put them through.