The Hero Pup by Megan Rix

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The Hero Pup by Megan Rix

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A moving story about a boy and the puppy that he is training to be a Helper Dog. Can Joe bear to say goodbye to Patch when the time comes?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Puffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780141351926

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Christmas is going to be tough for Joe this year. It's going to be the first without his dad; a brave soldier who died in the line of duty. Before then, he has the more immediate issue of facing his friends when he returns to school. They are bound to ask him lots of awkward questions about his dad and he's not feeling ready to open up to people just yet. Luckily, Mum has an idea that will help them both perform a fitting tribute to dad, whilst giving Joe something worthwhile to focus on: they decide to adopt and train a helper pup who will eventually assist an injured soldier in need.

Much of the story is devoted to the growing bond between Patch, the loveable Labrador pup and his trainer, Joe. Joe immerses himself in training Patch and teaching him skills that will be useful in his work as a helper dog. As the months pass and Christmas approaches, Joe begins to realise how much he has come to depend on his new friend and has doubts as to whether he will be able to let him go.

The author is clearly writing from experience and her passion for dogs shines through. Rix does a marvellous job explaining the rigorous process that dogs go through to become qualified helper dogs and also outlines some of the many jobs that they do for their disabled owners, including removing shoes, picking up dropped objects and helping with hoists.

The story is sensitively written, as it deals with a number of emotive issues, the most powerful being loss. We already know that Joe is reeling from the loss of his father, but as the story goes on, we also become increasingly aware that he will have to give up Patch at some point, too. Rix handles this well by introducing us to the soldier who will eventually have Patch and showing how he is also forming a bond with the young pup by means of Joe's online diary. The final chapters still brought a tear to my eye though!

This book is an absolute must-read for fans of Michael Morpurgo and animal stories in general. The plot development is absorbing and the small cast of characters are well written. I particularly liked Joe's disabled school friend Charlie, who longs for a helper dog of her own and his grumpy neighbour, Mr Humphreys, who softens up a bit over the course of the story.

I fell in love with Patch and I applaud Megan Rix for increasing public awareness of the valuable work that helper dogs do. I look forward to reading more of her stories.

If Hero Pup leaves you begging for more doggy tales, you will love The Bomber Dog by Megan Rix. Be warned, you may fall in love with the German Shepherd who is the star of the book.

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Buy The Hero Pup by Megan Rix at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Hero Pup by Megan Rix at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Hero Pup by Megan Rix at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Hero Pup by Megan Rix at


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