- Category: Books
Larry Levin's Oogy—the dog only a family could love
by Laura Hayes
Larry Levin's memoir, Oogy—the dog only a family could love, is yet another reminder of the ability of dogs to move beyond terrible trauma to live lives full of joy and love.
In Oogy's case, the trauma was not just mental but physical. Oogy, as Levin tells us, was discovered by police during a raid—bleeding, starving, left to die alone in a cage. Fate brought the dying pup to an after hours emergency vet clinic and a team determined to save his life. Oogy's wounds, inflicted by bite, were severe and part of his jaw had to be removed, giving him a permanent lopsided grin and a face half buried in scar tissue. None of this really bothers Oogy, who seems to love everyone he meets and lives his new life with gusto. (Eventually Oogy had to undergo more surgery to remove scar tissue on his face and the remnants of his ear, plus surgeries to correct ACL tears, plus a hip replacement, plus surgery to remove more bone fragments from inside his skull.)
As the full title of the book suggests, family is one of the book's important themes and Levin narrates how his family has waned and waxed—the loss of a sister, the adoption of two sons, the death of a cat (Buzzy, who last trip to the vet brought Levin and Oogy together), the adoption of Oogy, and his sons leaving for college.
The book is most engaging when it hews to the story of Oogy—his personality, the trouble he gets himself into, his propensity for snuggling, and his resilience. I found two parts of Oogy's story particularly interesting. First is the relationship between Levin and Oogy. Levin's description of his interactions with Oogy will likely remind you of your interactions with your own dogs and the private languages we create with them. Second is the discussion of breed. Everyone assumed that Oogy was a pit bull based on where he came from and his appearance as a puppy. But after Oogy has grown well beyond the size of a pit bull and someone has pegged him as a dogo argentino, Levin begins to ascribe new reasons for Oogy's behavior based on the idea that he belongs to that breed.
Oogy is a quick and uplifting read. While some passages on family life may be overlong, Levin's clear prose moves you swiftly along to the good stuff—his relationship with this loveable canine survivor.