Someone To Look Up To: a dog’s search for love and understanding
By IPPY and Global Ebook Award Winner Jean Gill
A dog's life in the south of France. From puppyhood, Sirius the Pyrenean Mountain Dog has been trying to understand his humans and train them with kindness.
How this led to their divorce he has no idea. More misunderstandings take Sirius to Death Row in an animal shelter, as a so-called dangerous dog learning survival tricks from the other inmates. During the twilight barking, he is shocked to hear his brother's voice but the bitter-sweet reunion is short-lived. Doggedly, Sirius keeps the faith.One day, his human will come.
Author Gill puts her storytelling prowess on full display with her mesmerizing and evocative story of Sirius, “Izzie”, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Because this book is written in the first person by this perceptive dog, I asked my own dog to help me with this review.
I told Oakley about Sirius and recapped the story of his search for a satisfying and meaningful life. As I began to tell her, she said, “Oh my, a Pyrenean is an enormous dog, twice as big as me.” She then stretched out on the couch so I could see how big she was. She rolled over on her back so I could rub her belly while I told her more about Sirius.
“Yes, Sirius was a large, fluffy white dog, bred as a sheep dog and able to handle the weather and conditions of French mountain life.” I was going to tell Oakley that Sirius had been born to champions, but Oakley is a champion mutt and I didn’t want to her hurt her feelings. I continued, “When he was eight weeks old, Sirius was Chosen, that’s the word he used, by a young couple. He lived with them for about a year, and did his best to train them. They divorced and he went to live with another family with young children. His size and young age, his sheepdog skills and his independent and proud nature made him a poor fit for young kids.”
Oakley turned, so that I could reach and scratch her ears. I again decided to edit the story, the part where Sirius spends time at an animal shelter. Our family had rescued Oakley from a shelter, so I didn’t want to remind her of her sad past. Thinking of Sirius and the other dogs on the concrete slab of the pound made me grab Oakley’s face and look into her beautiful brown eyes, as I hugged her.
The shelter contacted Sirius’ breeder and she took Sirius back to the snow covered mountains where he was born, but not to the life that he wanted. At this point, my dog snuggled even closer to me and fell asleep. So, I wrote the rest of this review myself.
My dog is joyous and fun-loving, that’s what got her into trouble with her first three owners. But as Sirius tells his life story, we learn that he is wise, contemplative, a philosopher. Author Gill conveys the dog’s thoughts in a compelling and compassionate way. One of the most beautiful parts of the book is when the dogs bark at night to share and affirm their stories.
If you love dogs, animals, or you like to consider life, then you will love this book and not be able to put it down. (Small spoiler alert- this is one dog book where the dog doesn’t die at the end!)
“Love is the starting point.”- Sirius, the dog
Sirius is a pedigree dog living in France. It's his story from puppyhood, to adulthood. There is a shelter stint in there as well, that's really, really depressing. (The S.P.A is what I would consider the USA's "humane societies" But it seems pretty accurate.
I had a pretty difficult time staying focused, and reading for more than a few minutes at a time, which is unlike me. I just had a heavy heart during most of the book. While I do understand that this is life, and it was probably pretty spot on with situations like Sirius' it wasn't much fun to read.
As a dog mom, there were some interesting parts about how Sirius was "training" his master, etc.. It was funny to see him do stuff my dog does, and makes me wonder how accurate this novel was. The writing was done well, and I did not see many glaring errors, it just wasn't a good fit for me.
I'm not a huge fan of this story, but it was pretty good and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would love it. I'd recommend it for anyone who wants a slower read, and a look into the dogs mind.
This story simply oozes love and understanding, and even though, or precisely because, it is a dog’s book, everything in it is as human(e) as we wish we would be, if we only tried a little more. Family ties, loyalty, mischief, consolation, kindness, wisdom, respect, experience, a range of thoughts and emotions displayed from a dog’s perspective, with deep empathy, but never condescending, mushy or pathetic, toward the main character or the readers themselves.
The voice used by the author to convey Sirius’s mind and life events is clever, witty, charming, bitter, wise, and the pages of his life simply flow through the reader’s mind. You can draw so many paralels with human lives, and yes, you can actually learn a lot from dogs, about humans and animals. The description of Sirius’s parents courting brought a smile on my face, and the first training lessons Sirius had made me laugh out loud. The author offers a unique outlook on dog’s changing owners, dog shelters and people who work there, and the daily treatment of pet dogs. The section with Stratos, Sirius’s older brother, retelling the events in the house of his brutal master, left a deep impression; to see through a dog’s eyes just how much human behaviour influences dogs. Some people should never have dogs or any pets whatsoever — I often wonder how such people treat their family members, but I suppose it’s the same. I could go on and on, about breeders, competitions, chained guardian dogs, etc., but am trying to avoid spoilers.
When I finished reading Someone to Look Up To, I have to say all my review remarks seemed silly, mere words. This book makes you feel, respect, cherish, accept and fight for the treasures of life. It almost makes me wish dogs could read it to. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves animals, has or has ever owned a dog, or anyone seriously considering getting a dog, as a companion and friend, not possession. A beautiful, loving story, told with unseen empathy — it will more than live up to your expectations.