We write about so many things here at Law Enforcement Today. We cover the news. We touch on the political landscape and how it impacts policing. We share the stories of the the men and women who make up the thin blue line. We even sprinkle in a product review every now and then.
So, as writers, we feel like we have seen it all. Then one day, I received a text from Kyle Reyes, our national spokesman, with a request. The text went something like this:
“I am having a book sent to your house. Could you read it and write a review?”
I am no book critic, but I can read and form an opinion, so I took the assignment. The book arrived in the mail a week later. I opened it to find a children’s book. I am 47.
Now, for complete transparency, I knew it was a children’s book. I had spoken with one of the authors and knew what to expect.
Again, I was not the target demographic. But I DO have an 8-year-old son.
Before we get to the book, I need to share two things.
One, I am a disabled Army veteran. Two, my 8-year-old son is adopted.
These pieces of information will mean something later.
The book is entitled Lucky: Little Guy, Big Mission. It was written by Eileen Doyon and Christy Gardner, illustrated by Susan Spellman and is inspired by real people, real dogs and real stories. From the moment you open this book, you know you are in for something special.
The book is dedicated to Christy and the dedications reads:
“I first met Christy in 2014 when she wrote a story about Moxie (whom we will meet in the story), her service dog, in my book, Pet Tales.
She inspired me from the moment I met her. First, thank you for your service to our great country. Christy is an Army Veteran. After being injured in the line of duty and overcoming extraordinary physical, mental and emotional issues, Christy tackles life each and every day with 150% effort and never gives up! She is such an inspiration to us all as she lives life, plays Sled Hockey and competes in other sports all around the globe.
With Moxie at her side, she now is training other puppies, like Lucky, to become service/therapy dogs to help other Veterans.
Christy, you are an amazing Veteran, lady and athlete. I am honored to know you as a person and proud to be your friend. This book is for YOU!”
Now, I know what you are probably thinking: Mitch, you just told us what the book is about without sharing the book. Yep, and if you read it, you will still be blown away by what is in its pages.
We read this book to my son, a few pages each night, before he went to bed. He was so captivated that he was actually excited for bedtime so he could hear more about Christy, Moxie and of course, the titular hero, Lucky.
And I will not lie, my wife and I were equally captivated.
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The story starts with Lucy and her six puppies. Lucy explains that people will be coming to select a puppy to take home to be a part of their families. True to Lucy’s word, people did come, and they played with the pups as they tried to decide which to take home with them.
Well, they played with 5 of them. One of them was ignored and sat watching as his brothers and sisters ran and jumped and interacted with the families in the yard.
See, this sixth puppy was born with a club front paw and had to run on three legs, which caused him to hobble. This puppy sadly tells Lucy:
“No one wants me because of my funny paw. I am too different from the rest of my brothers and sisters.”
Instantly, our eyes moistened, reading those words and thinking of our own little guy who God blessed us with through adoption.
Lucy tells him that someone very special will come and take him to a great home.
The very next day, Christy and Moxie arrived. Moxie was wearing a vest that reads “Service Dog.” Lucky notices that Christy has two prosthetic legs.
Asking if she was born that way, like he was born with a club paw, Lucy explained that Christy was injured serving in the Army.
At this point, my little boy says:
“You were injured in the Army too, Daddy.”
Christy decides to take Lucky home to train to be a service dog.
The next 12 pages, the rest of the book, capture Lucky’s first day in his new home and a trip to the park to play. When Moxie and Lucky get to where the other dogs are playing, Lucky immediately is singled out and picked on by the other dogs. They laugh as they say to him:
“What are you doing here? You don’t belong here. You can’t play catch like us.”
Insert teachable moment here. We were able to reinforce what we have taught all of our children. It doesn’t matter the differences between us and the people we encounter, we should be respectful and kind, and not point out the differences in an attempt to lessen the other person.
But Lucky had Moxie, who stepped in and helped him show the other dogs that he could do everything that they could.
Bully Bob, the story’s villain, apologized to Lucky, saying that he was wrong for calling him names and making fun of him.
Teachable moments two and three.
Do not judge a person’s ability simply by their appearance and take ownership of your mistakes, regardless of whether they are intentional or accidental.
After leaving the park, Christy takes Lucky and Moxie to Lickee’s and Chewy’s (which is a real candy shop) for a treat of ice cream with a dog biscuit on top.
Lucky is fortunate to have found Christy and Moxie. And they were fortunate to have found him. Little does he know, he is about to start his journey to becoming a service dog.
This story for kids teaches so many valuable lessons, such as self-worth, not judging a book by its cover, the reality of bullying, service to others and so many others that children need to hear. Ironically, there are a lot of adults in society who can benefit from reading this amazing children’s story based on real people, real dogs and real circumstances.
As I mentioned before, this book hit home with me on so many fronts, especially the adoption/value and the disabled veteran aspects.
And what did my 8-year old have to say?
On the first night reading, he stopped us a couple of pages in and said, “Lucky is like me. God gave me a family that loves me and wanted me to be in it!”
And just like Lucky has made a difference in the lives of students, so too has my son made a difference in the lives of the people who know him.
The real-life Lucky had surgery on his paw when he was only 3 months old. As he healed and grew older, he trained. He eventually passed his therapy-dog test and is now serving as the official therapy dog at Leeds Elementary School in Maine.
Christy continues to be engaged with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team and had her eyes set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She also continues to inspire those she meets.
Would I recommend this book? To anyone with kids, or grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, absolutely. To everyone else, also yes.
Thank you to Eileen and Christy for writing this book. Thank you also for sharing it with my family and me and allowing us to share it with our readers.
For anyone interested in purchasing the book via online sales platforms, the ISBN is 978-1-950381-39-5. You can also visit the author’s website to purchase:
Half of the profit from sales of the book go directly to Christy and her charity organization in their continued efforts to train service dogs and to provide various types of assistance to veterans.
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