Life as a shelter dog

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Glamorous Gwen Stefani just couldn’t stop playing fetch. A beautiful brown pit bull found tied to a pole in wintertime, Gwen was finding shelter life increasingly difficult. As the months went by and no one wanted the young and energetic tennis ball lover, Gwen became anxious and stressed. Writer and shelter volunteer Amy Sutherland fretted that Gwen with her pit bull stigma and her obsessive need to fetch would never find a new home.

Gwen was only one of the many challenging dogs that Sutherland bonded with during her years as a volunteer dog walker, trainer, foster dog owner and adoption specialist at the American Rescue League shelter in Boston. In sharing the stories of dogs like Brody, a handsome German Shepherd with a bad case of the “jumpy-mouthies,” Penny Jane, an under-socialized farm dog, and of course Gwen Stefani, Sutherland puts a furry face on the many problems and myths associated with shelters. From the no-kill debate, to the stigma of pit bulls, to controversial shelter transport programs, Sutherland explores issues facing shelters nationwide.

Sutherland is a master at researching inherently interesting subjects – cooking contests, exotic animal training – and presenting her material in an engaging way. Rescuing Penny Jane tackles a subject very near to her heart with a wonderfully vivid description of the shelter dogs eagerly waiting for their new home.

Meet Penny Jane


Julie Nelson

Constant reader, book selector, shameless promoter of good reads - these are just a few of the things I do as a Collection Development Professional. I love sharing the hidden gems in our nonfiction collection!