Book Review - 'A Dog Called Hope'

A Dog Called HopeTitle of the book:
A Dog Called Hope

Jason Morgan (with Damien Lewis, former war reporter)


Published: 2016

This is a moving story about Jason Morgan, a US soldier in the Special Forces, who is seriously injured during a mission. The recovery from his injuries is painful with bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide until he is introduced to Napal, a black Labrador, which has been specially trained to be an assistance animal for Jason. The companionship and bond that forms between him and Napal changes his life and gives it meaning and hope.



Jason Morgan

This book initially describes two completely different lives of Jason Morgan and Jim Siegfried, who come together and which have a major impact on Jason Morgan’s life. Jason Morgan had joined the US Air Force, and was living a very active lifestyle before becoming paralysed waist down when he was in a car that went over the edge of a cliff while being chased by gunmen. After being rescued from this incident, he spent months in hospital.  His marriage breaks down and his wife eventually leaves him. He is left to look after their young children. Being left alone with such enormous responsibility, and having to learn a new way of life in a wheelchair, depression and pain set in. He is then told about guide dogs and that he could qualify to be assigned an assistance animal. The dog, called Napal, is introduced to Jason and his life changes. His depression and pain subside, and he discovers a new lease of life that enables him to become a real father once again.

Napal was able to do things for Jason that he previously had taken for granted. Before the accident, for example, it was a trivial irritation to accidently drop his car keys. Now, Napal would take care of problems like this. Napal’s support also meant more people started to treat Jason just like they would treat anyone else.

Jim Siegfried was Napal’s puppy walker. Jim raised Napal until Napal was around 16 months . Napal then began his guide dog training, and started his path to changing the life of Jason Morgan and the lives surrounding Jason.

With Napal, Jason accomplished many challenges, such as completing a marathon in his wheelchair. Napal did not take part in the marathon, but as Jason had a more positive outlook on life, because of Napal, Jason's mental strength drove him to the finish line.  
Jason describes many fascinating insights into human attitudes towards animals. For example, Jason experienced occasions when he and Napal were excluded from some public places because of unexpected religious ideas towards dogs. In some cultures dogs are considered as unclean.

Before starting this EPQ I was familiar with the value of guide dogs for helping the blind in society. I was not aware of the enormous help that other types of assistance dogs can provide for other human conditions such as depression. This book opened my eyes to this diversity.  This book was a very easy read and very difficult to put down.