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Reviewed by S. J. Francis for Readers' Favorite
I'm naturally drawn to stories about animals, which made Duke: The Dog Who Saved My Life by Toby Yarbrough a natural read for me. The synopsis about this book drew me in right away. It’s a book about a disabled Army veteran named Sgt. Toby Yarbrough and his service dog, Duke, the dog who saved his life on more than one occasion. Toby Yarbrough is an Army Veteran with twenty years of military service. His life was changed during his service to his country, America. The book is the result of that fateful day of September 11, 2001. It was a day of infamy for many, but personally for this author who was injured and disabled due to an accident he sustained while deployed to Afghanistan. Considering what happened to him, Toby was lucky to be alive. He saw war. He has been to hell and back but retained his optimism and his sense of self, despite post-traumatic stress disorder, and seizures as a result of the accident he endured. For those that don't know, PSTD isn't a simple psychological disorder. It isn't a defect of the mind. In fact, it really doesn't have anything to do with simple "stress". PTSD is a real, long-lasting, permanent residue of trauma, psychological and/or physical. There is no cure. It never goes away. I know a little about PTSD from doing research, but nothing I read before matched the information I received in reading this book.
Duke: The Dog Who Saved My Life is written as a journal, a personal memoir filled with colorful photos. It's a wonderful, touching, fast and easy reading book that anyone can enjoy. I particularly enjoyed the chapter from Duke's point of view. I had no idea what a military service person actually endured during wartime. How could I? How could anyone unless they were there? I had no idea what having/training a service dog entailed. Now I do. I highly recommend this book to any military veteran, animal lover, and especially to friends and family of a veteran. Most importantly, I strongly believe that every world leader and their cabinets should read this book, because 1) service dogs are an important part of a veteran's healing process and should be provided to every disabled veteran that needs one, and 2) most importantly they need to realize that war is not always the right answer because some wounds will never heal.