Verdict: This story is compelling in its innocence, and its gift shouldn’t be limited to mere animal lovers, but to readers who need a reminder of the basic beauty of life and one’s role in making it their own.
Yes, this is a story about a dog named Xelie. Author Michele McGuire met her Picardy Shepherd on a trip to Austria and enthusiastically brought the dog home to join with the others.
While McGuire’s life undergoes a major transformation, the one relationship that remains, amid divorce, career change, and relocation, is her emotional bond with Xelie.
But her personal discovery of this truth wasn’t immediate. In fact, her story reflects human nature in that we often fail to recognize the value of our most cherished relationships until we run the risk of losing them. Clarity begins when Xelie’s life begins closing.
Developing a story that uses her flawed yet beloved dog as a vehicle for this life lesson is especially effective.
McGuire writes, “And now, thanks to Xelie, I was remembering the importance of letting someone, human, canine, or otherwise, know just how important they are to us in our lives, not just through words, but through actions.”
The strength behind placing a dog as the teacher is powered by the nonjudgmental and unchanging patience a loving pet provides. If this were an adult, the reader would become skeptical or frustrated with the hero’s lack of incentive to move forward to a more satisfying relationship. But the simple sweetness of the message is perfectly sustained by the unconditional, very nonhuman character of a dog so willing to compromise the fullness of its own existence for the benefit of an owner.
McGuire states, “I used to listen until the lost years when I forgot. When I forgot what a wonderful mysterious universe surrounds us. When I got bogged down and caught up in the material minutiae of day-to-day life. And now, thanks to Xelie, I was paying attention again.”
The sole drawback of this book is the need for polish; something a solid editor could fix.
This story is compelling in its innocence, and its gift shouldn’t be limited to mere animal lovers, but to readers who need a reminder of the basic beauty of life and one’s role in making it their own.