Book one of two by Ellen Cooney. Review: The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances: A Novel

My Interest

I put this book on my TBR when it was released. I was, again, hunting for an audio and found it available at my library. It is purely coincidental that I had two books by this author going at the same time–this one in audio and the second, Thanksgiving, on my Kindle. (I’m reviewing Thanksgiving tomorrow).

The Story

Evie answers a job ad to train dogs. Or is it dogs training people? She isn’t sure. Is there a manual? A textbook? Or is she writing one? When the story opens she is stuck down the mountain from the dog sanctuary at an Inn run by a crusty old lady.

Evie’s own past is a bit cloudy, but she seems to have a few things in common with some of the dogs. As does Big George, a kid who helps with rescues. And the dog-treat baking woman and, well, and each of the volunteers who come in and out of the story working with the dogs. And, are there nuns (or ex-nuns) in this book?

And then there are the rescue missions–cloak and dagger operations to save dogs. These made the book have an element of a thriller.

But it is the dogs–their personalities, their friendships, and their pasts, and their play, that make the book so memorable.

My Thoughts

No animal has ever left my home except by a natural death or an unavoidable euthanasia–by “unavoidable” I mean kidneys failing and death being days of misery away. Never out of “inconvenience.”

What caught my eye though was her monologue on adoption. (I’m sorry–it was too long to copy down on the side of the road while listening to the book in the car). You see, I’m a mom through adoption. I love the progress we have made on protecting and saving animals, and admire the people who have made that happen, but people often live 60 to 80 years longer than our pets (some even more than that). I’d love to see the same zeal applied to “rescuing” adoptable children in the world’s foster care programs. That warmed my heart.

This is an interesting book. It is not for everyone. I live out in the country. Pittbulls and others are rescued from fighting out here as well as in the cities. It’s a scourge. I felt genuinely bad for the other dogs (even though this was a novel and they were all fictional) at all the attention given to the arriving “Pitties.” I think there is little hope for former fighting dogs. That’s sad, I know, but had I been in charge, I would likely have had them put down. Too many awful things happen to people–especially children, when exposed to fighting dogs.

Also where I live, Amish farmers and others “farm” popular breeds of dogs–i.e. run puppy mills. I HATE THAT. I hate it with all my heart and soul. Dog fighting and puppy mills are so horrendous–yet we turn a blind eye, just as we do to the abuses to kids in foster care (which have a much greater impact on our world).

Who would enjoy this book? Anyone who is realistic about the world today and the animals in it. There are no “trigger” moments in my opinion (your personal past may make you see it differently, ok?). Things may seem to be heading that way, but they stop short of it. If you enjoy dogs, you will want to meet Hank, Boomer, Tasha, Dapple, and all the others. This is their story and it is a good one. It shows that one person getting involved can make a big difference. We need to be reminded of that every day.

I’m sorry that this is a “dark” review–it is still a good review. The book is well worth it. I listened to the audio version.

My Verdict


The Mountaintop School for Dogs…and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney

3 thoughts on “Book one of two by Ellen Cooney. Review: The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances: A Novel

Add yours

  1. Interesting. I read this and Thanksgiving. With this book, I saw the whole business with the dogs as a metaphor for her life, and I think I liked it more than you did. That was a bit of a surprise for me, because to be honest, I’m not an animal person.


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