Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Review: Love Like a Dog

There are a number of great pittie-themed books on our reading list this year and Anne Calcagno’s Love Like A Dog was one of them. So imagine our delight when she put a couple of copies in the mail for us to review! We appreciated the books, and we were flattered that from way across the border, she identified us as a reputable rescue she wanted to support.

Our review? A unequivocal two paws up! It’s clear it was written by a bullie breed owner as the writing entirely captures the essence of this breed – their extremely human-oriented nature, their athleticism, their tenacity.

Love Like A Dog is a story of a young boy, Dirk, who along with his single dad is adopted by Bull's Eye, a stray pittie who quickly becomes an integral part of the family. This leads to increased involvement in the bullie community and competitive dog sports – at first a positive experience that brings the family together, and Bulls Eye thrives.

Soon, though, Dirk’s father becomes exposed to the darker elements of the pit bull world, and greed takes over. This leaves the teenaged Dirk to risk losing the only family he knows, in the name of his best friend and the breed he has come to love.

The story weaves together many dimensions of the pit bull experience: the joy of a pit bull as a family companion, the reputable breeders and sports enthusiasts that show the positive potential of this breed, the rescue community, and the widespread abuse they endure at the hands of fighters and irresponsible owners. It's a wide range of perspectives, but Calcagno brings them to life with relatable and vibrant characters (human and canine).

I found myself staying up late to finish chapters, eager to learn what happens with Bulls Eye and his kin. There’s sadness in this story, but there is hope and there are a lot of great moments that will make a pit bull owner smile in recognition.

Want to read for yourself? We have a copy of the book to give away! Visit our Facebook page ( and post a comment telling us about your favourite book, movie or TV show featuring a bullie breed. You’ll be entered into a draw to win your own copy of Love Like A Dog.

To purchase a copy or to learn more about the book and what it has inspired, visit

Review by April Fahr


Samantha said...

Despite the controversy I love James Frey's books. In My Friend Leonard (the sequel to A Million Little Pieces) James buys a pittie Cassius and later adopts a female (I forget her name).

The downside is that Cassius has to be put down due to aggressive issues (Frey bought him from dog fighting champion litter). But he redeems himself by talking about the importance of rescues and how loving and people oriented pitties are. His female is the sweetest little thing.

HugABull Group said...

That's really interesting! I read the first book but after the fiction/non-fiction controversy I sort of gave up. I will definitely check it out now.

Gemmalouih said...

While I don't have a book or show with a bullie in it, I can tell you what made me a bullie advocate:

When I was in high school I worked in a vet clinic and boarding kennel in rural Alberta. We treated a lot of rescues and placed them into homes. We had a particular client who lived near a reserve and fed the dogs that wandered stray there. When they left reserve land he would catch them and bring them to us for treatment.
One very cold winter morning he brought us a pittie he called Blacky. He had been watching Blacky for four years, trying to get near him, but Blacky was abused by humans and dogs alike, so he wouldn't let the client near him. That morning he had gone out to feed the dogs, and found Blacky laying in the snow, bleeding, and too weak to stand. He had been shot through his back leg, and was covered in buck shot wounds.
We couldn't use an anesthetic on him in his weakened condition. So we put a muzzle on him for safety, and I sat with his head in my lap to keep him calm while Dr. Judith treated his wounds. Not once did he complain while we did what could only have been excrutiating. He even wagged his tail and tried to give kisses through the muzzle. As well as having bullet wounds he was swollen and bruised and bore the scars of his past.
We decided to keep Blacky, who later became Lucky, then Felix, then Rocket (for his love of running laps around the outside of the clinic), until we could find his perfect home. This meant I got to spend a lot of time with him. Every morning when I entered the kennel, he would burst with excitement, I had to say good morning to Felix (as he was to me) before I could do anything else.
What amazed me, was that he never bore a grudge for what he had been through, he became the most loving, enthusiastic, happy dog. I greatly admired his strength, and wished I could take him home myself. He eventually found a home with the groomer who came to our clinic a couple days a week. As far as I know he still gets to visit the clinic, and races around in an expression of appreciation for his new life.

Sorry this is a super long comment. But I think that story is worth sharing, I hope you agree!

HugABull Group said...

Gemma, thank you so much for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes - Blacky sounds wonderful, and we've met so many dogs like him who have made the most of their second chance at life. It's the resilience and loving nature of this breed that has inspired the work we do and the amazing pit bull community! It's truly humbling, isn't it?

Gemmalouih said...

It really is. Now that I am able to, I can't wait to bring home my own pittie to join our family.