In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen–one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue–ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy’s charms, and decided to take him home
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
“Oogy”an affectionate derivative of “ugly”, is a heartwarming tail for dog lovers, or for those who simply enjoy pulling for the underdog. I’m a sucker for dog stories, especially those with a happy ending, which I’m relieved to report is the case for Oogy despite his rocky beginning. I’m always anxious to know before getting emotionally involved & spending hours in a book if the animals or dogs fare well.
“Oogy” is the true story of a puppy who was used as “bait” for fighting dogs when he was just a few weeks old, and was so badly mauled and disfigured that he was nearly put down when he was discovered abandoned during a police raid in Philidelphia. But the staff at the Ardmore Animal Hospital, which sees this kind of thing all too often, immediately noticed something special about the white dog whose left ear had been torn off, his jaw smashed, the side of his head torn open. Despite everything that had happened to him, he showed absolutely no malice to other dogs or hospital employees. Instead, he eagerly dispensed licks and wag, offering thanks to his rescuers in the only way he knew how. Against all odds — or common sense, it would seem — the animal hospital spent hours operating on the dog and fostering him through his recovery. When they were certain he did not pose a threat, the one-eared pup with the lopsided face was given a second chance, and adopted out to the Levin family.
The author, an attorney who, along with his attorney wife, were on the treadmill of attorney life when they received a call that would forever change their lives: It was the “stork,” delivering the news that they had been approved to adopt two newborn boys, twins they would later name Dan and Noah. The twins bring indescribable joy and upheaval, a cycle that would be repeated years later with the arrival of a four-legged troublemaker. Whether it’s by chance or fate, Levin and his sons arrive at Ardmore Animal Hospital one morning in 2002 for a grim task: Their elderly cat must be put to sleep. Once there, they cross paths with the one-eared dog who immediately greets them like they’re his long-lost family. You know what happens next. They name him Oogy. Oogy is a handful from the get-go — he’s often found sleeping atop the dining room table, and a bungee cord must be used to secure the refrigerator. (Yes, the dog figures out how to open the refrigerator and fetch food for himself.) Oogy spends his mornings keeping the boys & dad company during their routines of getting ready for school & making breakfast. He eats his kibble while the twins enjoy their breakfast of pancakes. . .
At first, Oogy is believed to be a pit bull, given they found him during a raid and was obviously used as bait. Later, he’s discovered to be a Dogo, a rare breed known both for its ferocity as well as its gentle devotion to his family, and especially tolerant of children. Levin believes Oogy’s love for the dining room table (which at times Levin would come home to Oogy LAYING ON IT! HAHA) stems from his desire to position himself high so that he can better watch and guard over his family.
Oogy’s triumph, not so much the lap-of-luxury life that he now enjoys, but his ability to overcome cruelty, has led Levin to begin training Oogy to become a therapy dog, particularly for those who are wounded and disfigured.
“I believe that Oogy will be able to help those in need to understand that scarring, disfigurement, and trauma, whether physical or emotional, do not have to define who they are…. That no matter what has been inflicted upon them, love and dignity are attainable,” Levin writes.