A disfigured rescue dog changes the lives of a single mother and her chronically ill son in this inspiring story.
Eleven-year-old Jasper Blunt volunteers at the animal shelter where his mother, Kate, works as a veterinarian. Jasper has cystic fibrosis, and he endures frequent hospital stays as well as marginalized social status at school. One day, Jasper shows up at the shelter as multiple workers wrestle a badly scarred dog who has just arrived. To everyone’s surprise, the dog calms instantly when Jasper appears. Jasper declares that the animal’s name is Whistler, and when Kate asks how he knows, Jasper responds, “Because he told me.” As Jasper insists that he can communicate wordlessly with this dog, Kate grows concerned that her son might be suffering from psychosis in addition to CF. Yet, as Jasper spends more time with Whistler, his health, social skills, and outlook on life all improve. Unfortunately, if Whistler is not adopted within two weeks of arrival, shelter policy mandates he be put down. Kate continually rejects Jasper’s pleas to keep the dog, primarily because their housing development forbids pets. Kate finally receives a call from a man who claims he’s been searching for Whistler for years. As Kate and Jasper journey from Massachusetts to New Mexico to bring Whistler home, both Jasper and his mother wonder if they can ever return to a life that doesn’t include this special animal. This animal-centric narrative gets off to a slow start, but it gradually rises to an exciting crescendo. The author builds suspense by doling out revelations about Whistler’s past and posing questions as to how this information should affect the dog’s future. Told alternately from the perspectives of Kate and Jasper, the story tugs at the heartstrings by exploring the effects of chronic disease on both the afflicted and their caregivers, touching especially on issues of guilt, grief, and depression. Readers must be willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief as they get to know Whistler, but the ensuing ride through this engaging tale will be worth the effort.
An artfully crafted story about the connection between a boy and his dog and the deep bond between a son and his mother.