All Sharon Langford needs to know she learned from dogs. She must know an awful lot; because she’s had so many of them. Langford is one of those admirable people who sees a need and does something about it. In her case, it’s the need of abandoned, neglected, and abused dogs.
When she wrote Living with the Rescues: Life Lessons and Inspirations she was sharing her home with eight dogs, all of which were rescued from various situations. Before you judge her as that crazy lady with all the dogs, note that she lives on three acres with fences, outbuildings and doghouses, and when she built her home, accommodating dogs was a major consideration.
In addition to providing homes for her canine family, she also assists with vet bills incurred by injured, abandoned animals, and helps in other ways. We may not be able to see it, but surely when her dogs look adoringly at her they see a halo.
Each chapter of Living with the Rescues is about one of her dogs; in the first section, the chapters are about the dogs that were with her at the time of writing, in the second section are dogs she has rescued that have crossed over to “the Rainbow Bridge.” Literalists might prefer “died,” but the image that Langford paints of our deceased friends’ afterlife is welcome and seriously better to consider than the end of a relationship. (“The Rainbow Bridge” is an anonymously written essay about canine “heaven,” where our companions enjoy their afterlife, but await our joining them.)
Not all of Langford’s rescues were models of the dogly graces, but each one taught her an important lesson on how to live a more rewarding and satisfying life. Rocky taught her “You can learn a lot by observing and listening”; Barney taught her “Be willing to change your opinion.”
Langford shares stories of the dogs’ rescues and how well (or poorly) they acclimated to living with her family. She writes about each dog with love, but is honest about their behavioral problems, demands, and needs. When she describes illnesses and deaths the dogs experienced, we empathize. And when she tells of a dog who is or was a model of canine virtues, we can’t help but be a teeny bit jealous.
Sharing dog tales and life lessons is not the only purpose of Langford’s book. Throughout the book are “Rescue Tips,” information for others who would like to help alleviate the suffering of abandoned dogs. Obvious tips like “Volunteer at a shelter” are often given elsewhere, but Langford has many others that people may not have considered, such as donate food, shampoo, leashes, vet services, and other necessities (and, yes, toys are necessities) to a local shelter, or transport dogs that are being adopted out-of-state.
Langford also offers suggestions for care of the dog(s) in the reader’s life, such as taking her on field trips and “Providing for Your Dog.” While encouraging readers to rescue animals, she encourages them to be sure that adding a pet/companion is appropriate for their homes and lifestyles.
Through her warm, inviting prose and many photographs of all the dogs she has taken in, Sharon Langford introduces us to a rambunctious family of winning personalities. She also shares the emotional and economic toll of her endeavors (she doesn’t cite dollars and cents, but her descriptions of the accommodations and healthcare provided are enough for the reader to know she has given a lot to the dogs.) Proceeds from the sale of Living with the Rescues go to canine rescue organizations.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Living with the Rescues: Life Lessons and Inspirations? Yes, it’s a lovely account of the lessons dogs can teach. “Follow your heart.”