The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron
Forge Books, 2013
The heart warming novel, The Dogs Of Christmas, shows how animals can heal hearts and bring people together. Josh Michaels is furious with his neighbour when he unexpectedly abandons his pregnant dog before serving jail time in Paris. After suffering heartbreak, Josh can’t say no to Lucy and quickly becomes attached to her, although he has never had a dog. He turns to the local animal shelter for help and meets Kerri. Kerri soon sees the sensitive side of Josh and the love he has for Lucy and the puppies. He can’t seem to let go of the puppies but he must change his mind to keep Kerri.
Bruce Cameron surprises his readers by taking a different approach to his story. Although this book includes dogs it is more of a love story. Cameron stays to his normal writing technique, which is very detailed and descriptive, such as when the narrator, “buried his nose in puppy fur, smelling their puppy breath, feeling their rapid heart-beats through the palms of his hands.” I really like this sentence because of how it describes the smell, touch and the visuals he is experiencing. This aspect also helps the author development his characters such as when he describes the body language between Kerri and Josh, which helps us infer where their relationship is headed.
As the story unfolds you can sense the relationship between Josh and Kerri getting stronger and see them opening up to each other. It is such a great story because Josh has a difficult history with his family and ex-girlfriend and his character changes significantly when he takes in Lucy and meets Kerri. He’s very emotional, living alone in his childhood home. Memories constantly haunt him because he no longer has relationships with his family and he is hesitant to make an effort with Kerri. Although, almost instantly, the comfort of having Lucy and the puppies around to care for makes Josh feel less lonely and miserable. Kerri sees that he is still desperately trying to hold onto the memories of his childhood and ex-girlfriend. She confronts him and helps him overcome his fears of growing up by using the puppies as an example. He is very emotionally attached to the puppies and finds it extremely hard to part with them. This starts conflict between Josh and Kerri.
This is an important lesson about growing up because it is easy to be sentimental and live in the past. The Dog’s of Christmas teaches us about responsibility and making sacrifices for your relationships. Josh makes a sacrifice by keeping Lucy but discovers how much impact her and her puppies will have on his future. Having animals comes with huge responsibility but they bring much joy and opportunity for new relationships. Without the misfortune of Lucy being abandoned he may have never truly been happy and wouldn’t have met Kerri. Lucy is a very calm and loving dog which helped Josh overcome his fears of pregnancy complications and also added some humour and plot twists to the story. Lucy is very fond of Josh because he showed her love and affection she had never had before. She was able to open his perspective on giving a chance on new things such as owning a dog and being able to trust someone after a heartbreak.
If you like dogs and love stories, this book will be perfect for you. It is a very fun and engaging story because it has great descriptions and the characters’ personalities are constantly changing. Although it is mostly about Kerri and Josh the dogs play a large role in evolving Josh’s personality, giving him an opportunity he would have never experienced without her. The Dogs of Christmas shows the journey of how a dog and litter of puppies can change someone’s life for the better.
Editor’s Note: If this sounds like a good read, check out the short story this reviewer wrote, inspired by and in the style of The Dogs of Christmas here.