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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Oscar: The Friendly Rottweiler: The Dog That Will Change The Perception of a Breed is a nonfiction biography written by David A. Lees. While Lees had grown up in a family that always had dogs, he never felt like he had his own dog. He was fascinated by Rottweilers and couldn’t figure out how a breed known for being “loyal, intelligent, good-natured, alert and obedient” had acquired such a bad reputation. Why were people frightened of these gentle giants? Lees ignored the advice of well-meaning dog experts not to choose a Rottie as his first dog and set out, one winter morning in 1997, on a road trip to New Hampshire, where a dog breeder had a selection of Rottweiler pups waiting for him. The breeder’s house was filled with crates housing litters of puppies. Lees was somewhat overwhelmed by the number of puppies, but he knew what he was looking for. He didn’t want a massive dog, so he looked past the pups with big blocky heads and over-sized paws. Then he saw Oscar. He was neither shy nor a bully, and the sheer delight and sense of play that shone in that puppy’s eyes as he peed on his litter mates convinced Lees that this was the pup for him.
David A. Lees shares a life well spent in the company of his most unforgettable best friend and companion. There is sometimes a bond between a person and a dog that transcends friendship or comradeship; they become infinitely more than that; their lives intertwine so closely as to become one integral being. As I read this moving tribute to Oscar, I realized that David Lees had indeed found his one dog that winter morning, and I loved reading about their lives together. I’ve never had a fear of Rottweilers. My earliest memories of them come from a book on the breed I read some years ago. The cover showed a smiling Rottweiler in a harness pulling a cart with two beaming toddlers in it. And I’ve long held the conviction that dogs lose their innocence and innate kindness when they encounter evil treatment by those who should love them. So, I was not surprised by Lees’ story about his friend, but I did learn more about that remarkable and intelligent breed. The author shares so much of what made their relationship special in this moving and well-written account. Even as the reader is aware from the beginning that the book is in memoriam, it is filled with light, joy, adventure and, yes, mischief. Oscar: The Friendly Rottweiler: The Dog That Will Change The Perception of a Breed is most highly recommended.