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Download The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love, by Melissa Fay Greene Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Melissa Fay Greene Narrator: Christina Delain Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From two-time National Book Award nominee Melissa Fay Greene comes a profound and surprising account of dogs on the front lines of rescuing both children and adults from the trenches of grief, emotional, physical, and cognitive disability, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Underdogs tells the story of Karen Shirk, felled at age twenty-four by a neuromuscular disease and facing life as a ventilator-dependent, immobile patient, who was turned down by every service dog agency in the country because she was “too disabled.” Her nurse encouraged her to tone down the suicidal thoughts, find a puppy, and raise her own service dog. Karen did this, and Ben, a German shepherd, dragged her back into life. “How many people are stranded like I was,” she wondered, “who would lead productive lives if only they had a dog?”

A thousand state-of-the-art dogs later, Karen Shirk’s service dog academy, 4 Paws for Ability, is restoring broken children and their families to life. Long shunned by scientists as a manmade, synthetic species, and oft-referred to as “Man’s Best Friend” almost patronizingly, dogs are finally paid respectful attention by a new generation of neuroscientists and animal behaviorists. Melissa Fay Greene weaves the latest scientific discoveries about our co-evolution with dogs with Karen’s story and a few exquisitely rendered stories of suffering children and their heartbroken families.

Written with characteristic insight, humanity, humor, and irrepressible joy, what could have been merely touching is a penetrating, compassionate exploration of larger questions: about our attachment to dogs, what constitutes a productive life, and what can be accomplished with unconditional love.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Greene shares uplifting stories from families who have benefited from service animals provided by 4 Paws for Ability, a nonprofit dog training academy…For the most part these are feel-good stories about overcoming obstacles, but there are moments of heartbreak as well…She astutely sums up the relationship between humans and canines: ‘There are…reaches of the human psyche accessible only when accompanied by dogs.’”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Greene lends her trademark empathetic voice to this engrossing inside look at the work of 4 Paws for Ability, a service-dog academy that has placed over a thousand dogs with those in need, particularly children…Greene, a master at telling the most human of stories, will still leave readers smiling. And dog lovers will adore this book.”


  • “Personal stories of service dogs in action…The author compassionately interweaves these personal successes with scientific facts about dogs, the bonding that occurs between a human and a dog, and the loss or grief a dog may feel if a child should die. Dog lovers, parents of special needs kids, and those who love feel-good stories will delight in these heartwarming portraits of dogs and their families.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Beautifully written, scientifically rigorous, and filled with heartbreak and joy. It will make you think and feel differently about the kindness, compassion, and love between us and our dogs.”

    Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, authors of The Genius of Dogs

  • “At last a real writer turns to children, love, and dogs, surely the three most important topics in life. The Underdogs is written with wit, with charm, and, above all, with genuine warmth. It is a miracle, truly.”

    Dr. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of Dogs Never Lie about Love

  • A Good Housekeeping Pick of the Best New Books for Summer 2016
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