Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff is a hard book for any animal lover to comment on without sounding overly sentimental. The story does everything you’d expect a book about a dog to do. It will make you laugh and (admittedly) it will make you cry. However, the book is more than just a rollercoaster of emotions for the reader. In its simplest form, Dan tells the story of how an adopted Great Dane helped inspire his business, Three Dog Bakery, and helped him find his way in the world.
To start, I will say that I did thoroughly enjoy this book. Dye’s method of story telling is simple and straightforward. Although he rarely wastes ink on heavy descriptions, I think any reader who has ever owned a pet can easily relate to the situations and imagery. As I read I pictured my own dog Chief in many of the events that involved Gracie. Dye gives the impression that he was noticing things that may have been unique to his situation but somehow they still feel like events shared by all pet owners.
The story in itself is also simple enough. Distraught man finds helpless dog. Man saves dog. Dog changes man’s life. That’s the gist of things without giving away too many details. It may sound like a story that has been told a thousand times and played out in too many Hollywood movies but I think Dan’s version is different. The book isn’t just about Gracie, the Great Dane who attracts happy coincidences (a fact the author points out many times, at times almost sarcastically) but it is about Dan’s ability to recognize the opportunities in his life. You never get the impression that Dye ever viewed any of the potential hardships of dealing with a deaf and partially blind dog with anything but a positive attitude. It’s this type of attitude that helps Dan and Mark go from roommates struggling to pay their mortgage to being the owners of a successful national dog treat chain. It is also worth noting (and nice of the authors, to boot) that not too much time is spent on unnecessary details of business plans and profits. This is a story about people and their pets not bottom lines and counting nickels.
So, if you want quick inspirational read, I’d certainly recommend Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale. The characters are real and their situations are relatable even to non-pet owners. Yes, the story can be a little sad at times. But, I’ve found the best ones usually are, and it is a testament to the authors’ ability to draw you in.—Reviewed by Mike Griffin
Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale
by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff
248 pages, 2003
Workman Publishing Co.