Weekends with Daisy by Sharron Kahn Luttrell
My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)
Why Did I Read?
This book was selected as a community read by my local library. I enjoy participating in these community reads because everyone is encouraged to read the same book, and then the library hosts several events related to the book, including a visit by the author.
Summary (from Goodreads)
When Sharron Luttrell, a journalist still deeply mourning the loss of her family dog, discovers a weekend puppy raiser program for a service dog organization, she knew it was just what she needed to help her move on. It seemed ideal; pick up a puppy on Friday, return it on Sunday night, get a new puppy each year. No strings attached. Well, it turns out there were strings – and they tugged at her every time she had to return “her dog” to its weekday caregiver.
This memoir chronicles Sharron’s year co-parenting Daisy, a sweet Lab puppy, with Keith, Daisy’s other trainer. As Sharron and Keith develop a relationship she likens to “divorced parents handing over the kids,” she becomes curious about Keith’s life story. When Sharron uncovers a tragic event from Keith’s past, she realizes she must take a lesson from Daisy and “think like a dog”— react to circumstances in the present, not the past.
Sharron applies this way of thinking at home too, using the lessons she learned from Daisy to mend her rocky relationship with her teenage daughter. Where once a dramatic eye roll from her daughter would have sparked a battle, Sharron has learned to employ the patience and understanding she practices with Daisy to become a better mom. As Sharron and Keith work tirelessly to ensure Daisy passes her service dog test, she is taught priceless lessons in empathy, compassion and affection. In the end, Sharron’s weekends with Daisy have taught her more than she could ever have imagined.
What Did I Think?
I really loved this book! I think the author is a fantastic writer. I commend her honesty. I realize it takes an immense amount of courage to truthfully expose every thought and feeling for the world to read about, but that is why I enjoyed it so much. She makes you feel like you are right there with her throughout her entire experience of being a weekend puppy raiser to Daisy.
I really enjoyed learning about the NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) program, something I had never even heard about before. Inmates train the puppies during the week since they are able to provide them with the attention necessary to train the dogs properly. On Friday evenings, the weekend puppy raisers go to the prison to pick up the dogs for the weekend. They then take the puppy home with them and allow the puppy to experience many different situations and environments throughout the weekend, and then the weekend puppy raiser returns the dog to the inmate on Sunday night. There is so much good in this program. It is a win-win for all: the weekend puppy raisers, the inmates who train the puppies during the week, and the clients the puppies are eventually placed with.
Reading about Sharron’s experience gave me a new appreciation for dogs. This book even inspired me to teach my dog a few tricks. They are smarter than we sometimes realize! I have not always been a dog-lover, but I appreciate their worth more than ever now after reading this book.
Today I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by the author at my local library. She was accompanied by her newest puppy-in-training, Samurai. Samurai is now the 10th puppy she has trained, although some of the puppies did fail out of the program for one reason or another. It was so exciting to hear her story and to watch Samurai obey her every command. She is an excellent speaker as well as writer!
I would recommend this book to readers of all ages! It kept my interest the entire time, and it was a fairly quick and easy read at just over 300 pages. Whether you are currently a dog-lover or not, you will finish this book with a new appreciation for dogs.