His deprived youth has led him to an adult world where he feels he must play by someone else’s rules. And he is very good at the game. He is rising in the corporate world, accumulating the symbols of wealth and power until a memory from childhood causes him to snap. In that moment he loses it all.
Instead of a jail sentence the judge gives the arrogant Adam community service to work in a center feeding the homeless. Life becomes a humiliating series of bleak, lonely days for him where he begins to see no way out.
The book alternates between a third person narrative of Adam’s tribulations and a first person channeling of a most delightfully charming Pit Bull with a heart of gold (except for his desire to fight most of the dogs he meets).
Chance, as he is later named, tells us he was raised in a cage in a dark cellar as a fighting dog. In spite of scars and a mostly missing ear, he lets us know he was quite a gladiator. After making an escape, for a brief time he becomes a free dog of the streets, making fun of dogs subservient to humans. Then he is captured and bound for death row at the shelter.
The two social outcasts meet by chance and change the course of each other’s lives. The more Adam communes with the dog, the more he understands what is important in life. The fighting Pit Bull, raised without human affection, understands how much his human needs him.
I won’t spoil the ending except to say while it isn’t sunshine and flowers, I didn’t suffer Old Yeller Syndrome.
One Good Dog is easy to get into and I didn’t want to put it down as it moved along comfortably predictable without the sentimentality that often creeps into dog books. “Predictable” isn’t meant to be a negative.
I couldn’t help but think that if Jay Gatsby had found a dog to love, he would have seen that there was more to life than pursuing the very shallow Daisy and all that she represented. And he’d be alive today.
I recommend the book to anyone who has ever had a dog in their lives—or needed one.