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What the Dog Said    by Randi Reisfeld & HB Gilmour order for
What the Dog Said
by Randi Reisfeld
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Grace Abernathy's whole world has fallen apart. The thirteen year old girl's father, a police officer, was shot and killed and Grace has been unable to cope with his death.

Besides staying in her room and avoiding her friends, Grace has let her grades slide to the point where she has been told she is in danger of having to repeat 8th grade.

When her sister decides to train a mutt named Rex as a service dog, Grace finds herself taking the dog to Canine Connections, the group that provides the help needed to train the animal. Reluctant to really get involved with Rex, Grace is shocked to discover the mutt actually talks. Or at least, he talks to her.

Fortunately Rex is not only able to bring the young girl out of the depression caused by her father's death but, in an indirect manner, the dog also helps Grace uncover the name of the person who shot her parent.

Although this really isn't a suspense story, the main character is able to force or convince a witness to the crime to step forward and talk to the police. The relationship between Grace and Rex lies at the heart of this tale and there are some gut wrenching, emotional moments as the pair make this journey together.

Not only does this odyssey involve Grace's return to a more normal life, but it also focuses on the dog's training, because eventually he is supposed to move on to a new owner who needs his help. An interesting side issue also centers on whether or not Rex can actually speak. The author tweaks the plot towards the book's conclusion making one wonder what was really going on here.

A novel that will appeal to girls in the middle grades, What the Dog Said not only deals with coping with a tragic loss and the frustration that accompanies having to deal with an it's all about me sibling, but there's also a lot here about training a dog to assist individuals with disabilities.

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