“Lance: A Spirit Unbroken” A memoir by Walter Stoffel

Okay, this is a book about a dog. You know that at the end the dog’s going to die. Such is the nature of dog books. However, the difference in this case is that for most of the book you’re not sure you’re going to be that unhappy. I mean, this is one of those dogs that should be put down now, immediately, before it hurts someone. But you know that with Walter and Clara, it’s not gonna happen.

The simple way to put it is that Lance has PTSD. The product of an abusive and neglected life for ten years, he cannot get over his trauma and become anything like a normal dog. To top it off, he’s a Border Collie, the most intelligent and demanding member of the canine species.

And since it’s pretty certain from the start that this dog is not going to be salvageable, the story soon becomes more about the journey of the owners, not the dog. It is their sometimes-wavering determination not to let Lance down like the rest of the human race has done that drives the conflict.  

The essential similarity between the author and his pet does not go unnoticed, although perhaps in more ways than Stoffel mentions. As with much autobiography, it is fun to wonder whether authors realize how much they are revealing about themselves. 

In any case, by the time we get to the end of the book we have been brought around to a different point of view, and the conclusion is as satisfactory as you can get when one of the heroes has to die.

Recommended for lovers of dogs with interesting characters. And for lovers of people with similar problems. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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