Right after I wrote my post Eat The Damn Cake last week, I picked up the next book on my massive and intimidating TBR pile, Free Days with George. No book could have come more at the right time than this one, with all of the emotional challenges I’ve faced over the past several months (read here and here and here). No book could send better messages to me about life and growth and love and loyalty and happiness.
And of course a dog had to deliver the message. A big dog. Really big.
It’s a poorly kept secret that I adore dogs. All dogs, and especially my dogs. My sister accused me of being a crazy dog lady and she was right. If there was a Tinder for dogs, I would be on it, hearting and swiping right all the day long. I talk to my dogs, hang out with them like they’re my peeps, and overall love them up in a disgusting way.
I admire the beautiful and loyal canine. They can find the greatest joy in the smallest things (last week one of my dogs played fetch with an elastic band for hours) and they’re always happy to see their people, even if they’ve only been gone for 26 seconds. They like almost everyone while knowing who to steer clear off, rarely pick fights, judge, or ask anything of us other than basic care and affection, which they are grateful for and give back in spades. Their entertainment consists of fetching things you threw for them and smelling butts. What could be better?
In fact, the only reproach they offer up is when their humans don’t spend enough time with them (or share their chicken).
When it comes down to it, the cliches are true. Dogs really are man’s best friend. Or the reverse? When it comes to dogs and humans it’s hard to know exactly who is making whose life better.
I’m sure that author Colin Campbell would agree with that statement. At least I think so after reading about his heartwarming, entertaining, smile-making, tear-jerking and generally incredible relationship with the Giant Newfoundland he rescued and who named himself George. The fact that we get to live it vicariously with them in the must-read memoir, Free Days with George is a gift you should give to yourself right now.
Campbell’s life changed dramatically one freezing cold winter’s night. After picking him up at the airport after a business trip, his wife of 4 years announced that their marriage was over. With no explanation from her, and no closure to be found, Campbell went through the motions of daily life but sunk into a depression. One day a colleague suggested to him that he get a dog and directed him to the rescue organization PetFinder.com. Little did he know that his friend Matt’s email would change his life forever. From that email came a thought, and from that thought an impulse, and from that impulse a seed of hope. The rest, as they say, is history. He found a big ole dog named Kong who needed a friend and he gave him a home. He re-named him George and over the months they learned together to love and trust again. And to make friends, find the joy everyday—and surf too.
(My sons enjoying a Free Day with our dogs)
I don’t think you have to be a dog lover to relate to Colin’s story. Many of us have found ourselves down in the dumps and were saved by someone or something. Many of us have struggled to see the brightness in ordinary life. We’ve all had epiphanies or experiences that have helped us see the light. What makes this book special, and the relationship between Colin and George so incredible, is that these two found each other just at the right time. And and that they forged the kind of deep and abiding friendship that can only be shared between man and dog.
Oh yeah that and of course how special and awesome George is.
Campbell writes with a simplicity and ease that can only be found when the subject matter comes easily. He relates his life’s story with honesty and openness. It’s an easy read that possesses depth and love. The pages literally ooze all the feelings. And of course, a man who admits talking to his dog is one you’d want to get to know. I’m speaking for myself when I say that, but you might feel the same way too.
If you enjoyed Marley & Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain you won’t want to miss out on Free Days with George. In fact, I think everyone should read it.
Unputdownable Factor: 10/10
Recommend Factor: 100/10