Review of HAATCHI AND LITTLE B: THE INSPIRING TRUE STORY OF A BOY AND HIS DOG by WENDY HOLDEN
(review based on an advance reading copy)
The opening of this story had me nearly in tears as it fills in what this dog went through before finding his boy. Someone abandoned Haatchi, a huge Anatalion Shepherd, on railroad tracks where a train came along and hit him. Despite all odds, Haatchi survived, but he lost one of his back legs. After being bounced from temporary homes and different vets, the dog so many didn’t think would survive instead found a wonderful life with Owen. Due to a rare genetic disorder, young Owen hadn’t had an easy life either. He lives in almost constant pain with muscles that permanently tense, and the way people constantly stared and didn’t know what to say caused him to retreat into himself. Neither had a particularly good outlook ahead of them...until they found each other.
My short review of this book would state that it features an amazing story that isn’t particularly well-written. Both Haatchi and Owen have had some excruciating experiences, but the way they uplift each other, not to mention their family’s unrelenting generosity and support, exemplify the phrase “heart-warming.” Apart from the horrifying incident that begins this story, time and again the people (and animals) featured in this book demonstrate determined optimism and dependable goodwill.
Sometimes with nonfiction, though, authors can be skilled at gathering information but not at conveying that information in an engaging way. The writing belabors points and meanders off on unnecessary tangents. In general, I preferred when the book focuses on Haatchi and Little B, those featured in the title, but there’s a whole chapter going into detail about Owen’s dad and stepmom’s wedding as well as frequent mentions throughout about what they post on social media. The focus swayed between Owen and Haatchi’s relationship specifically and an overall family biography.
There are a lot of wonderful books out there about dogs changing people’s lives. As much as I indentify as a dog lover, I often avoid these books - since they usually feature either (or both) beginnings where the dog goes through ghastly trauma or endings that, well, remind you people live longer than dogs. HAATCHI AND LITTLE B, though, emphasizes that sad moments don't make a sad life.