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A Dog Named Christmas    by Greg Kincaid order for
Dog Named Christmas
by Greg Kincaid
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

If you're a dog lover looking for a feel good story instilled with old fashioned values, then look no further than Greg Kincaid's A Dog Named Christmas. This small (stocking-stuffer-sized) volume is filled with good people, warm feelings, and soulful mutts.

The first character that Greg Kincaid introduces to readers is a scruffy, half-starved walk-on, an alert, eager to please, well-behaved companion that the Conner family (with whom he temporarily makes his abode) call Jake. When Jake leaves 'to fulfill his own calling', they tell each other that 'A walk-on can just as easily walk off'.

Next we meet the McCray family farming land that George McCray's 'great-great-grandfather purchased from the Blackfoot Indians.' With four grown children leading their own lives, George and Mary Ann McCray are left with their youngest child, twenty-year-old Todd at home. Todd has 'his own way of thinking about things', listens constantly to the radio, and is passionate about animals. Though his disability keeps him from a regular life and job, he has become 'a bit of an animal medicine man', helping 'every hurt, maimed, and lost animal within five counties'.

As the story gets going, Todd has a bee in his bonnet about the local animal shelter's Christmas Dog program, in which families foster a dog for the holidays, with the option to return the animal afterwards or keep it permanently. At first George says a firm no, as he has a history of heartbreak with dogs from his stint in Vietnam, but Mary Ann and Todd wear him down. Not only does Jake find a home with them for the holidays, but the McCrays, especially Todd, launch a campaign to make a bigger difference.

That in itself would make a good story, but Kincaid takes it further to a warm and fuzzy conclusion that will make A Dog Named Christmas into a holiday classic (I can just see Jimmy Stewart as the McCray patriarch, wouldn't that make a wonderful movie?) Read it while sipping a mug of cocoa and let the tears flow as you're wrapped in the true spirit of the season. As George tells us, 'As long as we can make room at the inn, Christmas never ends.'

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