“All dogs are rescuers,” says the Faulconbridge author of three dog books, the latest The Rescuers: Incredible Stories of Life-Saving Dogs.
Laura Greaves regards her 11-year-old dog Tex as her rescuer. He’s a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever with a long list of ailments, including arthritis, hypothroidism, anxiety disorder and most recently, epilepsy and cancer.
“My dog has showed me that giving up is not an option,” said the author who struggles with anxiety and has battled depression.
“He has rescued me in that sense. He has taught me a lesson in resilience. I wonder how much more can one creature take – but he keeps keeping on,” she said.
“He’s a role model for how to live more mindfully and live in the moment.”
Her latest book features true stories of adopted dogs who have displayed unforgettable courage and true loyalty, to rescue their owners.
It took just four months to write. “Every time I write a book I write it in a mad panic, that’s my creative process,” the 38-year-old said. “After 20 years as a journo, if I don’t have a deadline to work to I don’t work.”
One of her favourite stories in the book is about Kabang, a stray dog in the Philippines who became a global celebrity, and would have died if not for the kindness of strangers and veterinary surgeons on the other side of the world.
“It’s a rescue on so many levels,” Greaves said. “There was no reason this dog should exist, everything was against her from the moment she was born into a swamp.”
Then there was the tale of Khan, a Dobermann who had been rescued from a house where he was beaten and placed with a family in Atherton, Queensland. They’d only had Khan a few days when their baby was playing with the front gate. Suddenly the dog made a guttural growl, puffing out his chest. He kept trying to nudge the child, before grabbing her by the back of her nappy and tossing her into the garden. Then a brown snake lunged at the dog, striking him in the chest. Luckily the family had a vet see Khan quickly enough so he could be given antivenin and made a full recovery.
Greaves was keen to change the perception of so-called bad breeds such as Dobermanns, Rotweilers, German Shepherds, Pitbulls and American Mastiffs. “It’s us, it’s not them,” she said, it’s how the dogs are treated by the owners, so she was keen to show this particular breed of dog can be a hero too.
The book not only has stories of physical rescue, but spiritual or soul rescue too, like gentle Grace who taught Rachel how to love again after she lost her husband.
The author has become Facebook friends with many of the people she interviews for her books. “I’m building a global community of crazy dog people. The best people in my opinion,” she said.
Greaves is creating a children’s version of Dogs with Jobs, which was published in late 2017. The kids version is due out later this year, alongside Miracle Mutts, stories of dogs with inspiring stories.
“If by some miracle I could write a book about dogs for the rest of my life you would have no complaints from me,” Greaves said. “Dogs are gifts we don’t deserve.”
The Rescuers: Incredible Stories of Life-Saving Dogs is published by Penguin and available in most bookstores.