Book Description: Todd McCray, hero of A Dog Named Christmas, is now twenty-four years old and working at a local animal shelter, where he meets and quickly becomes best friends with Laura, a young volunteer. Laura, like Todd, has disabilities of her own, but her struggles are more physical than developmental. Their friendship is sealed when Todd—with the help of his trusted companion, the tenacious Labrador retriever named Christmas—trains a beautiful dog named Gracie to help Laura with the day-to-day life tasks that are difficult for her.
Life seems good for Todd, but all is not well in his hometown. Struggling families unable to make ends meet are abandoning more and more dogs, and the shelter is swelling to capacity. The local government is struggling to meet its obligations too, and in early December, on the cusp of another holiday season, Todd’s boss delivers the bad news. Due to funding problems, the shelter will close its doors before the end of the year. But what will happen to all the animals?
As the Christmas holiday approaches, Todd has limited time to find homes for all the dogs. Not to mention that he needs to secure a new job and figure out what to do when his friendship with Laura takes an unexpected romantic turn. All this seems overwhelming unless you’ve got a loving family, dedicated friends, and a couple of very special dogs behind you. In which case, nothing is impossible.
My Review: It's not often that a book has me sobbing, but as I reached the end of this late last night I had to put it down for a bit to pull myself together. This is the final book in a trilogy; the first being A Dog Named Christmas where we are introduced to developmentally disabled Todd and his family on their Kansas farm and Christmas comes into their lives as a foster dog, and the second Christmas with Tucker where we are taken back to Todd's father George's childhood. All three of these books are absolute classics...must reads for the holiday season.
This book is so timely as the animal shelter where Todd has worked and found a bit of independence is forced to shut down because of the state of the economy. This all happens at the same time there is the greatest need, because more and more families are having to give up their cherished pets. While Todd and his friends work to save the animals in time, he also has to face the very real question of where his life is headed now that the security of his shelter work, his sanctuary, is being taken from him.
Over the course of this trilogy I've become so attached to the McCray family, and this was such a beautiful final chapter as Todd falls in love and strikes out on his own to follow his dreams of spending his life working with dogs. It was at the end as Todd is leaving home that the tears started flowing for me. George hestitated to adopt Christmas in the first place because of his prior heartaches with losing his beloved dogs. George realizes he's losing another one as Todd plans to keep Christmas with him in his new life. "As he watched Todd walk away, he held on to the dog for another minute. Christmas was 13 years old, George thought, and there was a chance he would never be back here on the farm again. He held the dog tightly and tried to let his heart express the gratitude he felt for having walked on this planet with such a wonderful dog." And you'll never believe what happens next...
Please give yourself the gift of these books this Christmas season, and if you haven't watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on the first book, pick up the DVD or keep an eye on Hallmark Channel's tv listings...it's already aired a few times in the past couple weeks.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review, but I'm going to buy it in hardcover as well to have the entire trilogy on my keeper shelf forever.