I fell in love with this one from the start. I, too, had a Shih-tzu pupper, her name was Lucia, and she was the most adorable, lovable, stubborn, fuzzy bundle of love you could ever hope for. In her later years, she was a bit of a curmudgeon, wanted things specifically her way, and didn’t back down from letting you know if something wasn’t right, but she could make friends with anyone and melt your heart in an instant. She has since passed on, and I will always hold her in my heart, but little Nika’s story touched my heart. To be abandoned at such an early stage in life, through no fault of her own mind you, with no one to take care of her, and then to have health issues piled on top of that...it was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Once her forever home was found and her new mom and dad got her the help she needed, even with everything still up in the air, I had tears for different reasons...love and joy.
The story coupled with the illustrations help bring the story to life visually, and I must say that they really got the personality of these feisty little dogs right on the nose. Anyone who says they are all the same just isn’t taking the time to get to know them...much like Nika points out how humans and pups CAN hear each other speak, if only we take the time. Recommended read for the kiddos, perhaps with a little adult guidance just to squelch any fears that things will turn out all right in the end.
Oh my heart was in my mouth throughout this story as little Nika takes on the big, sometimes bad, world in search of her big brother. I’ve often wondered just what our fur kids think when we have to leave them for any length of time. I mean, do they really understand that we will in fact be back shortly, or that sometimes people leave for greater stretches, but will one day return? Or goodness forbid time catches up with some and that return is after the rainbow bridge? What exactly is going through their adorable little minds because they sure are excited when they see us again!
In this story, Nika shares exactly what’s on her mind and she’s none to pleased (or patient!) to leave things as they are. She sets out on a journey to find big brother, pushing aside the warnings of those that have gone before her to the City of Cats. Sounds like an ominous place, right? Yeah, well let’s just say they don’t take kindly to dogs, actually have recruits to persuade some into their midst so they can exact their revenge, and even though they may think they are in power, there are those that conspire against them to save the innocent that will also have their day.
This time around, the story did not go exactly where I had imagined, which is a GOOD thing because the ending we and Nika (and friends!) get is SO MUCH BETTER! It warmed my heart to see everything come full circle, and added a welcome warmth to the tale perfect for the reading season.