Dayton's Big Read

Miami Valley readers have cast their votes and chosen the next book for the Big Read community reading project. The winner is The Underdogs: Children, Dogs and the Power of Unconditional Love, by Melissa Fay Greene. This nonfiction book tells the story of the founding of 4 Paws For Ability, a nonprofit organization based in Xenia, Ohio, that trains and places service dogs internationally.

The Underdogs will be the subject of book discussions and programs taking place at area libraries, schools and other venues during the Big Read in March and April, 2018. University of Dayton Libraries is hosting one book discussion that is free and open to all. Additionally, The Underdogs will be read by students participating in the popular campus book club, Porch Reads

Looking for a copy to read? A limited number of free copies are available to UD faculty and staff who can commit to attending the campus book discussion on March 12. Or, request The Underdogs from another library using OhioLINK or SearchOhio. You will receive an email from the library when your book is ready for pick up.

Date: Monday, March 12, 2018

Time: 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location: University of Dayton's ArtStreet Cafe, 318 Kiefaber St, Dayton, OH 45409. Street parking is available. 

Book discussion facilitator: Maureen SchlangenE-scholarship and communications manager for University Libraries.  

For more information, please contact Katy Kelly,

The underdogs: A Summary

From two-time National Book Award nominee Melissa Fay Greene comes a profound and surprising account of dogs on the front lines of rescuing both children and adults from the trenches of grief, emotional, physical, and cognitive disability, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Underdogs tells the story of Karen Shirk, felled at age twenty-four by a neuromuscular disease and facing life as a ventilator-dependent, immobile patient, who was turned down by every service dog agency in the country because she was “too disabled.” Her nurse encouraged her to tone down the suicidal thoughts, find a puppy, and raise her own service dog. Karen did this, and Ben, a German shepherd, dragged her back into life. “How many people are stranded like I was,” she wondered, “who would lead productive lives if only they had a dog?”

A thousand state-of-the-art dogs later, Karen Shirk’s service dog academy, 4 Paws for Ability, is restoring broken children and their families to life. Long shunned by scientists as a manmade, synthetic species, and oft- referred to as “Man’s Best Friend” almost patronizingly, dogs are finally paid respectful attention by a new generation of neuroscientists and animal behaviorists. Melissa Fay Greene weaves the latest scientific discoveries about our co-evolution with dogs with Karen’s story and a few exquisitely rendered stories of suffering children and their heartbroken families.

Written with characteristic insight, humanity, humor, and irrepressible joy, what could have been merely touching is a penetrating, compassionate exploration of larger questions: about our attachment to dogs, what constitutes a productive life, and what can be accomplished with unconditional love.

Request a book

RSVP to the book discussion to receive a free copy of the book while supplies last.

* Status at UD
* Yes, I will attend the book discussion at 4 p.m. on Monday, March 12 at ArtStreet Cafe.
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