In her first book “Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life with Dogs,” author Rebecca Ascher-Walsh shared with readers a touching collection of stories about the amazing ways pets alter the lives of their humans.
So when the dog-loving journalist was asked by National Geographic to, once again, tell the awe-inspiring stories of dogs and the impact they have on those around them, Ascher-Walsh jumped at the opportunity. In fact, she called it “an honor.”
Like “Devoted,” her new book “Loyal: 38 Inspiring Tales of Bravery, Heroism, and the Devotion of Dogs,” gives readers a variety of heartwarming stories and photos. Only this time, the collection is entirely devoted to the outstanding work and impact of service dogs.
“When I started [this project] I thought it would just be about amazing dogs, because everyone’s dog is amazing,” Ascher-Walsh tells us. But what she discovered, however, was something bigger.
“It’s about how open we are to our dogs and the connections with our dogs,” she adds. “[I was] looking at stories, both big and small, where the dog and its person have added something truly powerful and important to their communities, or the world.”
“Loyal” features an array of dogs, from all different backgrounds, who have changed the lives of the people around them.
There’s Drago, the service dog who helped comfort the students and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary after a gunman claimed 27 innocent lives.
There’s Klinger, the first certified running guide dog, who helped his blind owner get to the finish line.
There’s Niko, the Pit Bull-Corgi mix who helped a prisoner become rehabilitated through the Canine CellMates program.
There’s Bandit, the towering and big-hearted Great Dane who helped service members begin to heal from the physical and emotional scars for war.
Their stories, along with the 34 other dogs in the book, may just change your life. That’s exactly what happened for Ascher-Walsh. But the author was also inspired by all of the pet owners she came in contact with through the process of writing. “These people are telling you incredibly intimate things about their lives and they are trusting you with their stories, and there is absolutely a bond that takes place,” she says. “They were funny and generous and kind.”
Ascher-Walsh—who is not only a volunteer at an animal shelter in New York City, but is a pet mom to rescued Pit Bulls—says that while each story is unique and special, there is one common thread throughout the book.
“They have this twist of fate that this particular dog came into their lives for a reason,” she adds. “Every single one of them had that sense of wonder and gratitude.”
Ascher-Walsh hopes that the book can bring people together during times of trouble and division.
“I think we all want—as people who love animals and who love to read—to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves,” she says. “My hope is that these stories will help heal, on even just a tiny level.”
“Loyal: 38 Inspiring Tales of Bravery, Heroism, and the Devotion of Dogs” is available in stores and online on March 7, 2017.
Image via National Geographic
Aly Semigran is a lifestyle writer for the world and roommate of Ruby, the cutest dog in the world.