book reviews

New Favorite Dog Stories

For those of you who love dog stories, you’ll want to check these out

  1. The Life and Times of Le Bronco… — The care and love of a 165 pound rambunctious dog who looks like a bear and acts like a best friend
  2. Standing Dead–I won’t give away what this means, but this is another good story of Mattie and her working dog, Robo.
–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle: Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger

by Thomas Wikman

It’s obvious from Page 1 of Thomas Wikman’s non-fiction The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle: Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger (2022) that the author loves everything about his 165-pound pawed-and-tailed Leonberger, a breed of dog that looks like small bears if you glance too quickly, but are friendly, loyal, loving, and fun. Wikman takes us through events in Bronco’s life like his unexpected greeting to the mailman and how he saved the life of his fellow pack dog, Baylor. Stories are interspersed with suggestions for dog care based on lessons Thomas learned from raising Bronco, like appropriate food for this breed, training ideas, and tips on their care. By book’s end, readers can make an informed decision to welcome this special dog into their family–or not:

Leonbergers are … amazing dogs with wonderful personalities [who] need a lot of exercise, brushing, attention, and space. They cannot be left unattended for long periods of time.

… put a bell on the door to the backyard, which he rang whenever he wanted to go outside.

Leonbergers are double-coated, and they have webbed paws, so they’re natural swimmers.

Throughout the book, we see how Thomas’ family willingly changed to adapt to the specialized needs of this amazing animal:

Bronco’s daily diet consisted of breakfast (dry food, usually Eukanuba), lunch (a peanut butter sandwich), dinner (dry food), and one or more Greenies (dental chews) before bed.
… our veterinarian recommended that we sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

No matter what craziness Bronco gets into, Thomas views it through the lens of an oversized lovable creature trying to do what’s right for his family. It is clear this dog was loved by his family and as important, understood.

Then a nice man came along (we don’t know who he was) and threw a stick a little way out into the lake. He asked Bronco to get it, and he did. Then he threw the stick a little bit farther so that Bronco had to swim to get it. Little by little and step by step, the man encouraged Bronco to swim.

The stories are told with a sense of humor (no matter how dire the circumstances) and accompanied by hand drawn pictures.

The part of the book that almost brought me to tears was the death of one of Bronco’s canine family members…

and their journey down what many call the Rainbow Bridge:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor.

I am familiar with the Rainbow Bridge, consider it where my many pets have gone to wait for me, but Thomas added something I didn’t know:

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. 

I highly recommend this book for not just those interested in this breed, but dog lovers in general.

–illustrations by Naomi Rosenblatt

Standing Dead: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery

by Margaret Mizushima


–received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

In Margaret Mizushima’s eighth installment of her award-winning Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books 2023), Deputy Mattie Cobb and her sister Julia go to visit their long-separated mother Ramona only to find she and her husband have left her home in Mexico with no forwarding address. Without leads to where she is, Mattie returns to Timber Lake to determine next steps, but the mystery follows her when her mother’s husband shows up dead in Mattie’s backyard. On his body is a note to Mattie about more attacks to come and signed as a friend of her father. When Julia also disappears, it is up to Mattie and her working dog partner, Robo, to track down the killer before he brings death to Julia and Ramona or others that Mattie is close to. To do this, she must unravel the decades old mystery around her father’s murder.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in this series in large part because Robo is always integral and a respected group member. So why 4/5 for this one? It’s a little slow despite the seriousness of the plot, but not so much I won’t read the next. Recommended to those who like dog stories and strong female leads.

Copyright ©2023 – All rights reserved.

–received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Savage Land Winter 2024.


69 thoughts on “New Favorite Dog Stories

  1. Wonderful, Jacqui. Thank you. May I also highly recommend “The Poet’s Dog” by Patricia MacLachlan? This is my favorite book, (yes, “Charlotte’s Web” is a close contender), yet it’s not a children’s book- 88 pages that you cannot put down. Really.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read either of these, and have never owned a dog, but absolutely love the passage about the rainbow bridge. I may purchase that book for my daughter’s birthday which is coming up soon.
    Two doggie books I enjoyed were for younger readers (but also enjoyed by adults): The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. And then of course there’s the classic for even younger children Go Dog Go!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Jacqui for your beautiful review of my book. I am grateful for you featuring it and for your kind words. We both love dogs, we believe they are family, and I love your stories about Ump in your Dawn of Humanity Series. Thank you also for your review and recommendation of “Standing Dead”. It looks like an intriguing book and I love dog books so I pre-ordered it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jacqui, two lovely reviews and Bronco has won all our hearts who read your thoughts of this book. An unusual but precious non-fiction book. I like how Robo is an integral part of the team in ‘Standing Dead’. Your review leaves me reflecting how to incorporate animals more into my writing – something that has not really occurred to me before.

    Liked by 2 people

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