This lovely book, Walker Hound of Park Avenue by Deanna Klingle captures the essence of the human-canine bond, along with the tireless, loving work of our animal shelter workers. This true story of a shelter dog also illuminates how in life a chance meeting, and the ability to see and give someone a chance, can transform everyone involved. Walker, a Walker Coon Hound, has been abandoned by his family, left behind in a shelter in the mountains. On their way to vacation away from the city in the mountains are the Madison family, including the children Mark and Ann. Looking for fun things to do, the family makes plans to attend a festival at the town’s village green–the local humane society is also planning on bringing its dogs there for a “Stop and Adopt” event. This is where Walker meets Mark and Ann.
With concise, elegant prose, Klingle teaches that dogs feel sadness, friendship, and loss (the image of Walker languishing in his cage, awaiting the return of his family is heartbreaking). Each scene layers the story with a gentle plaintiveness that grows each time the children and dog meet, as they teach him new tricks, and even go shopping for him at the local pet store.
Klingle creates lovely and memorable scenes, such as when Mark and Ann are introduced to Walker by a shelter worker, “I think he’s beautiful. Why does he look so sad?” “I think he’s beautiful, too. I’m glad you’re here to visit him. He’s sad because he misses his family. He needs a home.”
Through sincere and straightforward storytelling, author Deanna Klingle shares a lovely message of just how meaningful adopting a pet can be, giving it a forever home, “What would we do without you, Walker?” Ann and Mark asked. “You are so beautiful,” said Ann. “And you’re the smartest dog I ever saw,” said Mark. “You don’t need to be beautiful or smart, though. We would still love you.” Ann put her arms around Walker. “The thing we love most about you is when you’re just being our Walker Hound of Park Avenue. You’re a champion at being our very own dog.”
Walker Hound of Park Avenue is a must read for families that care about the well-being and care of pets, but also for families that are thinking about getting a pet. Klingle offers a narrative that shows just how wonderful adopting a pet can be, how it can change the life of all involved, both internally and externally. By giving equal time to the shelter workers that loved Walker too, Klingle leaves the reader with a feeling of warmth and respect for these people that do so much good for society, yet many times toil in obscurity. By the end of the story, you will have fallen in love with Walker, the Madison family, and the gentle folks of the humane society—Klingle shows us that, even with all that is going wrong in the world, at our core there is still an eternal fountain of hope that can spring forth from the love of and from a good dog.