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Book Review: "A Home for Goddesses and Dogs" by Leslie Connor

June 27, 2024 7:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Book Review: A Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor

Review By: Debbie Duel

Director of Humane Education, Humane Rescue Alliance

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs is filled with humor, heartbreak, hope, and healing. Lydia, the 13-year-old protagonist shares the limelight with a big, goofy dog who grabs the reader’s heart early on and gives it a good tight squeeze near the end of the story. A Home for Goddesses and Dogs, by Leslie Connor, brings animal cruelty to the forefront and asks readers to think about the physical and emotional scars caused by animal abuse and the penalties that perpetrators may face for inflicting harm.

The book begins with Lydia’s mom dying, her dad is AWOL, and her mom’s sister, Aunt Brat (whom Lydia only knows through her mother’s stories), is there to take her from her tiny home in New York to a sprawling farm in Connecticut. There, Lydia is greeted by Soonie, a passive, retired greyhound, and Aunt Brat’s quirky wife, Eileen. The last member of the welcoming committee is Elloroy, the 90-something-year-old owner of Pinnacle Hill Farm who routinely reminds anyone who will listen that he is “not dead yet.”

Just days after Lydia’s arrival, Aunt Brat and Eileen adopt a second dog from a local animal adoption extravaganza. The dog they chose, prone to carpet-soiling, leash-pulling, and collar-slipping, comes with an inadequate name, Bullet, and no known history. Choosing a name for the large yellow dog proves easier than training. Thanks to Eileen’s unique method of dog psychology, the dog is dubbed Guffer, and eventually learns that the yard is for peeing and that leashes and collars are necessary safety devices. 

The two dogs are outnumbered by lots of goddesses! There are the art objects; goddesses created lovingly by Lydia and her mom as a way of recording their short life together, and there are the real-life goddesses – Lydia, Aunt Brat, Eileen, and a host of others – who reign supremely on every page. They are strong women who are quick to take matters into their own hands.

A shocking act of animal cruelty occurs early in the book; two baby pygmy goats are mutilated and left at the feed store where Eileen works. The description of their lobbed-off ears and hooves is gut-wrenching. When Lydia gets proof that Guffer was abused as a pup, the revelation hits like a double gut punch. 

Author Leslie Connor has shared her life with several dogs, all strays or transplants. Each dog had to settle in, with some taking longer than others. “It was important to put in the time and effort to figure out who each dog was,” she said. Her own family’s patience, research, observations, and behavior modification expertise allowed the dogs and people to learn to love one another just like Guffer and Lydia learn to do within their newly acquired family. Connor emphasized the importance of learning about any animal’s care before committing. Baby goats are cute, but understanding their needs makes the experience of having an animal much more positive from the start. A Home for Goddesses and Dogs is a story that celebrates families in all their configurations; it emphasizes the power of love, strength, and resilience – a very timely and needed book for middle readers and adults.

To learn more about the author, book, and for links to purchase A Home for Goddesses and Dogs, visit Leslie Connor’s website.

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