4 out of 4 stars
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Although I've seen service dogs a couple times in my life, I never really knew much about what they actually did. There isn't much a dog can do, I thought, and assumed they were basically there for emotional support and to bark loudly if their handler fell or passed out... Oh, how wrong I was! A Service Dog Life by Kimberly Kiely is a creative little book (34 pages according to Amazon) that focuses on exactly what you'd think - the life of a service dog. However, what makes it unique is that it's told through the eyes of Jäger, a German Shepherd who works for his Mommy, Kimberly (the author).
After a brief introduction from the author that gives a little medical information about herself, Jäger takes over. Jäger is a sweet, hard-working German Shepherd whose full name (Jäger Von Schatten III) means "Hunter of Shadows" in English, something he thinks is "so cool"! Jäger then goes through various things he can do for his Mommy and how he learned them (like the practice he went through to be able to pick up tiny things like jewelry without swallowing them!) and how he has even learned to behave while at a noisy restaurant or movie theatre for hours. Throughout the book there are also various photos to illustrate all the things Jäger talks about.
I was really amazed at how many different things service dogs can do. "Brace", for example, has Jäger brace himself so that his Mommy can get up, lean against him when she's losing her balance or even act like a railing while going up stairs. He can also pick up all sorts of objects - from a cell phone to jewelry to toothpaste and other toiletries - without hurting them and can even put his own toys away (something I can't even say about many human beings). He uses the bathroom in a specific part of the yard that's made just for him and can even do it on command so that when his Mommy is going to go out he won't have to use the bathroom once they're out. In one of the later chapters, he mentions that he's surprised when people ask who he's supposed to be helping because his Mommy isn't in a wheelchair, and that's ridiculous - he says that many disabilities aren't seen on the outside and that not only does he help with her various neurological and skeletal issues, service dogs can also help people with epilepsy and diabetes. After reading the book, I can definitely say I can see how handy a service dog would be!
The photos throughout the book are excellent, and with so many the book works very effectively with children of any age. It's really cool to see him in action, actually holding different items, in his potty spot, bracing for her, putting his toys away, etc. Kimberly stated that she wrote this book to help explain service dogs to her own young son and people everywhere who have little knowledge of service dogs (like me!), including those who don't realize just how much they may benefit from one. With the photos and the fun way "Jäger" explains his training and what he can do, it's easy to say it succeeded at all of those goals.
I really enjoyed A Service Dog Life. It masterfully walks the fine lines between humor and information as well as between a "working" dog and a dog that's loved and not just a tool or servant. The photos were all excellent and illustrated everything incredibly well. My rating of the book is 4 out of 4 stars, and I can't recommend it enough for those who are interested in having a service dog, those who have one and have kids, anyone who knows someone with a service dog or people who just love dogs in general.
A Service Dog Life
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