Dog Lost by Ingrid Lee

I first got wind of this book at a publisher’s preview back in May. When I discovered it was nominated for a Cybil Award in the Middle Grades category, I was excited that I would get the chance to read it.

Dog Lost is the story of a boy and his dog. But it’s more than just a fluffy animal story. Mackenzie lives with his dad, and he certainly isn’t a good dad. An alcoholic who hasn’t been the same since Mack’s mom died, he comes home drunk one night and dumps a puppy on Mack’s bed. Mackenzie is stunned, as is the puppy who has never had a decent home. The two quickly become inseparable, with Mack making sure Cash the puppy never bothers Dad.  Best friends from the get-go, the two spend hours at the park, chasing squirrels, and just cuddling at night.  Mack isn’t sure why so many of the neighbors in his run-down neighborhood run the other way when they see Cash coming, because she is just a big love-bug.

What Mack doesn’t realize is that Cash is a pitbull.

He also doesn’t know that the town is about to pass a law outlawing pit bulls.

Mack loves Cash and Cash loves him right back.  She is nothing but a gentle giant, and a baby at that.  But when his dad is drunk and angry one night and goes after Mack, Cash immediately jumps between them.  Growling at dad to protect her best friend she puts herself in danger.  Dad grabs Cash, stuffs her in the trunk of his car, and drives to an empty field where he dumps her.  Mack is heartbroken and Cash is lost and alone.

While Cash and Mack are separated for the next year and a half, the pit bull law is pushed through the town legislative bodies, Cash survives on her own (making new friends and enemies), a neighbor continues his dogfighting ring, and a downtrodden neighborhood narrowly avoids two tragedies.  

This is a beautiful, heartfelt book that will connect with any animal lover.  I think I can even get some of my sports fans to read, thanks to Michael Vick’s recent dogfighting conviction.  Dogfighting and pit bulls have been in the news a lot over the past year and this timely book will force readers to really consider their position on both.  And anyone who has ever had a pet will identify with the relationship between a boy and his dog.