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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Zoe is a cat. While scouring her territory, she smells blood. It unsettles her, but not as much as the mangy puppy that is tossed into the backyard, near where she smells the blood. When the puppy begs her for help, she’s unsure, but Rex, the puppy, is determined. Wounded and limping, he digs his way out of the yard and follows Zoe as she circumnavigates her territory. She keeps calling him a Dumb Dog and telling him that cats are solitary creatures, but when Rex stands up for her against some bully dogs and shares some of his own story of how he was injured and why he doesn’t want to return to his home, she relents and invites Rex into her home, humble though it is.
A.J. Agreste’s story, Dumb Dog, takes the controversial and unpleasant situation of dogfighting and presents it from the dog's point of view. Although the story is told in the first-person narrative from the cat’s point of view, Rex’s point of view is also presented, although it’s the cat’s realization of Rex’s dire and dangerous living conditions that melts not only her heart but also the hearts of readers. The plot develops as the bond between the cat and Rex intensifies, reaching the climax when Rex reveals his sorry situation. The two main characters, Zoe the cat and Rex the Dumb Dog, are well developed with their own unique quirky personalities. This is a powerful little story, told with care and compassion.