Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: Wallace (disc dog, lovable shelter pit bull), Part One of Two

Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls – One Flying Disc at a Time, by Jim Gorant (Gotham Books, 256 pages, 2012, $26)

Nothing left to prove. . . .

Jim Gorant is the author of one of the best books in recent years – The Lost Dogs* - about the Michael Vick case and its aftermath, full of hope and success for the dogs. So, DogEvals jumped at the chance to read anything else by Gorant, but somehow, the magic isn’t there in Wallace. Both Wallace and The Lost Dogs are nonfiction: both, about pit bulls. But the magic isn’t there in Wallace. The story is outstanding but it took me a long time to get through the book (perhaps the book is too long?).

Wallace did, however, start the world (and DogEvals) on a pit bull reading frenzy, a total love affair. 

Pit bull types (PBTs) have always been tied for our second most favorite dogs along with rottweilers (first come golden retrievers and labs), but, somehow the magic isn’t there in Wallace. I didn’t feel as if I was in the story, not part of the book, but outside looking in – it just wasn’t happening to me, not pulling me in. Gorant was telling us about how we should feel rather than telling the story so well that we could only feel what he wanted us to feel - too many adjectives and not enough verbs, or perhaps too much detail – one competition after another, for years, until they all ran together for me, as did the different aspects of the sport of discs for dogs and the intricate, creative jumps and throws. I just couldn’t picture them.

The Lesson

On the other hand, there are many excellent quotables (p. 166, 203, 210, e.g.) about the injustices of breed-specific legislation (BSL), the lesson Gorant wants us to take home. How a dog that nobody wanted became a champion almost by chance in the beginning and then by a lot of determination, love and hard work.

The Book

Wallace the book starts off with a couple of fellows sailing when a storm blows up. After two pages, we never meet these fellows again. Gorant jumps to a puppy and his littermates, then the book jumps to a guy and a girl in college and we follow them for a few years. How all these disparate threads fit together is truly a work of art.

Who is Wallace? The Disc Dog champion and the dog nobody wanted. The PBT (actually an American Pit Bull Terrier, an APBT) who showed the world that a dog 25 pounds heavier, slower and less agile than the canine body made for disc (like a border collie’s) could overcome it all with practice and determination and love.

*Roo also adopted one of Michael Vick’s dogs, Hector, 
who became a therapy dog. To learn more about Hector, see Jim Gorant’s book, The Lost Dogs.

Next: More about Wallace the Disc Dog Champion and former shelter dog

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