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Darling, mercy dog of World War I by Alison Hart ISBN 978-1561457052

cover art from Darling, a mercy dog of World War I

cover art from Darling, a mercy dog of World War I

I have read many dog lover books and this is one of them.  I think the society has finally come to the point when we can recognize the hard work of others and celebrate that hard work.  In World War I many animals were trained to help the soldiers, if it were horses pulling wagons or dogs finding wounded soldiers and delivering messages.

We may remember C.S. Lewis’s story of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” — where we hear a tell of what it is like to be a child in war torn Britain. “Darling, mercy dog of World War I” tells a story of what it was like to be a dog.

There is a dog tax so it is more expensive to have dogs in war time.  Eventually with the father away and finances tight, they need to give up Darling.  The war department thinks that she will make a good messenger dog for she seems smart and quick.  However, on her final test, she is thinking more of going home than completing the task at hand.  However on her way across the field en route to home, she hears that her handler is hurt and she goes to him and then finds help.  At that point the trainers learn that she is much better suited to being a mercy dog, a dog that finds wounded soldiers.  She successfully completes her training and goes to the front.

This is a great story — with a happy ending (a rare occurrence for a trained military animal in World War I) but we learn about the possibility of unhappy endings.  This story is fictional enough to make it a pleasant reading experience but also has just enough truth to know that these animals were amazing and the trainers were truly hard working.

If you have an early independent reader who enjoys animal books — this is a great read.  A highly recommended book!

Product Description:  At home in England, Darling is a mischievous but much loved pet to Robert and Katherine. But when the British military asks families to volunteer their dogs to help the war effort, they send Darling off to be trained, even though it is very hard to say goodbye. Darling goes through training along with many other dogs and is ultimately used as a mercy dog, seeking out injured soldiers on the battlefield and leading the medics to them. After saving the lives of numerous soldiers, Darling is faced with a major challenge.

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