A heartwarming, true story about George, a rescue dog who helps his owner rediscover love and happiness. Marley & Me meets Tuesdays with Morrie and The Art of Racing in the Rain–get your tissues ready, animal lovers!
After Colin Campbell went on a short business trip abroad, he returned home to discover his wife of many years had moved out. No explanations. No second chances. She was gone and wasn’t coming back. Shocked and heartbroken, Colin fell into a spiral of depression and loneliness.
Soon after, a friend told Colin about a dog in need of rescue—a neglected 140-pound Newfoundland Landseer, a breed renowned for its friendly nature and remarkable swimming abilities. Colin adopted the traumatized dog, brought him home and named him George. Both man and dog were heartbroken and lacking trust, but together, they learned how to share a space, how to socialize, and most of all, how to overcome their bad experiences. At the same time, Colin relived childhood memories of his beloved grandfather, a decorated war hero and a man who gave him hope when he needed it most.
Then everything changed. Colin was offered a great new job in Los Angeles, California. He took George with him and the pair began a new life together on the sunny beaches around L.A. George became a fixture in his Hermosa Beach neighborhood, attracting attention and giving affection to everyone he met, warming hearts both young and old. Meanwhile, Colin headed to the beach to rekindle his love for surfing, but when George encountered the ocean and a surfboard for the first time, he did a surprising thing—he jumped right on the board. Through surfing, George and Colin began a life-altering adventure and a deep healing process that brought them back to life. As their story took them to exciting new heights, Colin learned how to follow George’s lead, discovering that he may have rescued George but that in the end, it was George who rescued him. Free Days with George is an uplifting, inspirational story about the healing power of animals, and about leaving the past behind to embrace love, hope and happiness. – Goodreads
I was nervous about this book. I love animals; in many cases, I love them more than people. I feel an over-developed need to protect them and can’t handle anything bad happening to them, even on the page. Because more often than not bad things do happen to them in books and films, I normally avoid reading or watching animal stories.
But this one tweaked my interest. It’s the true story of a man who, after separating from his wife, finds himself alone and depressed. Outside of work, his life has fallen apart – he spends most of his time collapsed on his couch, drinking and watching TV. Then a friend suggests opening his home to a dog who is also in need of some safety and comfort. This suggestion, though at first seemingly crazy, ends up changing Colin’s life.
After resisting for a few months, Colin finally starts browsing online websites featuring dogs who need a home, and stumbles across one that makes him pause. It’s a dog with dark, soulful eyes that seem to contain immense wisdom and sadness. That these dark, soulful eyes belong to a 140-pound Newfoundland Landseer is both an exciting and terrifying prospect. Exciting because Newfoundlands are a gentle people-loving breed with a particular affinity for the water – they have often been used as water rescue dogs. Having grown up swimming, lifeguarding and surfing, Colin is also a water-lover. But it is also terrifying because Newfoundlands are huge – both in size and responsibility. They take up a lot of space, and they require a lot of attention.
So it’s with no small amount of trepidation that Colin sets off to meet his prospective new pet.
I’m sure you can see where this story is going – the gigantic dog is soon riding shotgun in Colin’s life (and car) and has changed… well, pretty much everything.
I won’t say any more than that, because experiencing first-hand the relationship that develops, stutteringly at first, between Colin and George the massive Newfoundland Landseer is one of the most wonderful reading experiences any animal-lover can have. Suffice it to say that I picked this book up one evening intending to read a few pages, and next thing I knew it was 2AM and I was halfway through.
Reading this book brought tears to my eyes as often as it made me laugh with glee, and by the time I’d finished the book (the day after I started it – it would have been the same day had I started it in the morning), I was happier and more hopeful than I’d been in a long time. This is a story that will remind you what an amazing healing power love can have – whether it comes from another person or from a creature with fur and four legs. It will also remind you that sometimes taking a chance is rewarding in more ways than you could possibly imagine.
On a serious note, I hope this book will also inspire readers who have been considering adopting a pet to rescue one instead. There are thousands of animals in need of a home, and trust me when I say that love you get from adding a pet to your life is worth so much more than the cost of adopting and feeding it. And remember, sometimes good things come in large packages! Larger dogs (as well as those with disabilities and older dogs) have a hard time finding homes – so if you’ve got the space in your home, yard and heart, please consider taking in a larger dog like a Newfoundland Landseer!
Author: Colin Campbell
Published By: Doubleday Canada
Released: May 12, 2015
Genre: Memoir, Animal
Date Read: July 16-18, 2015