Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 6

Book Review:

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story


Sally Cronin


To be honest, I am not a pet person. I think the only pet most people should be allowed is a tapeworm. It goes where you go, eats when you eat, and never bothers the neighbours.

It’s not I don’t like animals. I love animals. On the whole I prefer them to people. To me animals are children who never grow up. To some extent they always rely on you, which is why I don’t want one. They are a responsibility to be taken seriously and I’m not sure I could do that responsibility justice.

Sam a Shaggy Dog Story is the autobiography of Sally Cronin’s beloved collie, told entirely in the first person, and accompanied by selection of family photos that puts you right in the heart of this delightful yarn. The voice Sally gives Sam is that of a likeable enthusiastic youngster. It endears him in much the same way, and appears ideally suited to the character of a rambunctious puppy. As Sam grows older his voices changes becoming more reflective, exactly the way it does in real life.

Her skill in giving an animal such an apt voice is not surprising when you consider Sally is a life coach, knowledgeable about psychological motivation and an acute observer of behaviour. She is also a storyteller of great talent and charm, who writes deceptively simple tales peppered with endearing characters, lashings of happiness and gentle humour: easy to read, and moreish as a box of chocolates

The writing makes the book accessible to all ages from 7 to 70. Actually this is a great book to be read aloud to kids at bedtime. The only problem is… they would never want to go to sleep!

Sally’s readers have already met Sam in her enchanting and amusing Tales from the Garden. Part of Sam’s story deals with the move to Spain; for this is the tale of all Sam’s family, Sally and David, Henry the Cat, Henry’s kittens – who Sam adopts, and even Danny, the dog next door. The sequel to Tales from the Garden, ‘Tales from the Irish Garden’ is out soon. Look out for it. I know I will.

Sam a Shaggy Dog Story begins with Sam’s birth and transfer to his new home with Sally and David (his pack-leaders as Sam calls them). These early chapters give you a real sense of a developing child trying to understand the world. And like any child, Sam quickly begins to develop a sense of identity, belonging and his own personality.

Sam comes to understand his place in the world; his relationship with Sally and David and his friendships with other animals, such as the half feral Henry the Cat. He experiences joy and wonder at seeing snow for the first time and his first lick of ice cream and develops a passion for car rides and cheese. I mean, who doesn’t love car rides and cheese? He has his dislikes too, mainly vets and his kennel!

One of the many funny parts of the book is Sam learning to talk human. He managed cat, partly because Henry speaks pretty good dog. Human he finds difficult and needs to concentrate, but does manage a few accurate approximations… much to Sally and David’s delight. At which point Sam comments the vet once said he might be able to understand around 20 words, adding: how wrong can someone be!

The beauty of Sally’s writing is Sam does not consider himself a dog, or Henry a cat, or his owners people. He realises they are different but essentially the same, all part of… well, the circle of life I suppose.

Although hard to believe, for anyone watching ‘Pets do the Funniest Things’, many scientists once considered animals no more than automatons. Religion taught man was given dominion over beasts because only he had a soul. Thankfully these days some of us are wiser, and realise while we think ourselves ‘top-dog’ other animals have the same feelings and share the same emotional range.

I believe this book should be compulsory reading for anyone wanting a pet, especially youngsters. Once read, when you look into those big brown eyes, you never forget what you are really looking at is another human, who should be treated in the same way you want others to treat you. That not only cruelty hurts, but also neglect, as with poor Henry the cat before he found Sally. We need to be raised to know animals are not toys but fellow beings that give love unreservedly, and deserve the same love back, without reservation.


Check out Sally’s Website: Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life

6 thoughts on “Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story

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  2. Reply Robbie Cheadle Mar 24,2017 1:19 pm

    Lovely review, Paul. I am going to get this to read to Michael, he loves stories about dogs.

    • Reply Paul Mar 24,2017 7:59 pm

      It is a lovely book Robbie. It is warm and generous and not at all sentimental… which for me made it shine. Sam has got a great voice too. He is such an engaging personality. I often found myself thinking of him and a youngster rather than an animal, which I believe was Sally’s intention all along. Not a book about a pet but a book about love and sharing a life with another equal being.

  3. Pingback: Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – Lucinda E. Clarke, Adele Marie Park, Sally Cronin and Bette A. Stevens | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  4. Reply Sally Cronin Mar 23,2017 7:22 am

    Thank you Paul the old boy would have loved this review and I cannot thank you enough for including him amongst your usual posts on myths and legends.. in our lives he was just that. He would have won you over in a heartbeat.. you are a star.

    • Reply Paul Mar 24,2017 8:07 pm

      It really was my pleasure Sally. It is a lovely book told with great affectionate and sensitivity about a really likeable character, and it deserves to be treasured. Luv PX

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