Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walker Stoffel

The Synopsis:

What would you do if there was a dog in your neighborhood forced to live outside day in/day out, at the mercy of abusers, wild animals and brutal weather?

Walter does nothing-at first. Then, an accidental meeting with Lance, a Border Collie, sets the wheels in motion for a down-to-the-wire, life-saving rescue and a disappointing discovery: Lance turns out to be a threat to anyone he can get his teeth on-including his rescuers!

Their lives turned upside down by this semi-feral “pet,” Walter and his wife Clara are forced to answer a painful question: do they euthanize the dog they rescued?

Making their life-or-death choice even more difficult is Lance’s hilarious quirkiness; when not threatening, he’s incredibly entertaining-though a State Trooper, the local drug dealer, and a Megan’s Law parolee, among many others, would beg to differ.

This rollicking, thought-provoking, and-at times-heart-wrenching true-life account of the unorthodox rescue of an unorthodox dog is guaranteed to captivate:
-Dog lovers
-Recovering addicts (there are numerous passages that the 12-step community will relate to) 

I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.


Being a major dog-lover myself, and having had experience with raising a Border Collie mix (like Lance), I was looking forward to reading about this bittersweet rescue of an abused dog. My own darling pup is a rescue himself so stories like these are inspiring to me. And though Lance’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, there was a lot about this book, in particular, that really just didn’t add up to me.

Lance’s rescuers are extremely strong people to have put up with what they did to save Lance from his neglected state of being and I love the heart and passion the author had for this dog–I certainly wouldn’t have lasted through what he did!– but a lot of the stories he told seemed off to me. For one, the author himself admitted, throughout many of the chapters, to not believing a lot of the abusive stories he heard from neighbors about Lance, and he admitted himself that Lance didn’t act as though he’d been abused, so to continue to claim that he had endured a life of abuse when hardly any of the symptoms or tells were there seemed like an exaggerated story. Neglected, yes, and I agree that Lance should have been rescued from that life, but a lot of the “stories” just didn’t add up in the way the author talked about the dog and described his attitude and demeanor, and the stories he told about his supposed past. They were contradicting. It sounded like a lot of tall-tales and speculations made up by busybodies and gossipers who didn’t like the family, which is common in neighborhoods (believe me, I’ve heard some crazy ones myself!).

Another thing that really struck me as odd was that the author just, took the dog. Stole him, as he himself admitted, without reporting the negligence to any sort of authority. Sure, Lance deserved a better life than being chained to a dog run and left without food and water, but buying another house for the purpose of moving away to steal a dog is an odd way to perform a rescue. There are so many easier ways (?).

The last thing that needs to be said is that Lance’s owners sounded as if they knew very little about the care of a dog. They took a dog who had lived it’s entire life outside ( estimated ten years) and forced it indoors and wondered why it started going ballistic on everyone. And instead of compromising with the dog, and getting him a large dog run or fenced in area and letting him stay outside to bring him in the extreme weather conditions only (not all outdoor dogs are neglected! Our border collie mix was spoiled rotten and lived outside because she couldn’t be brought in! And a LOT of the bigger dogs actually prefer the freedom to sniff about and dig rather than being stuck inside!), they kept him inside and just let him attack their friends and family! The author even describes instances in which his family refused to visit because the dog couldn’t be trusted not to attack and bite anyone, including the owners themselves! I’m sorry, but at some point you would think they would try to find him a bigger place to run, rehome him, find a rehab place since they cared so much about him, something, instead of letting their friends and families be scared of visiting because of a dog who attacks everyone and can’t be controlled. They blamed Lance’s aggressiveness on medical disorders and the harsh life of his past, but if the author’s stories are accurate in the timeframes and how he wrote this book, Lance was never a dangerous dog until they couped him up inside and limited his outings.

Maybe a lot of what I gathered was in the way the author thought certain things were funny and worded them in a way that I misunderstood, I don’t know, but this book struck me as a messy rescue at best. Sure there were some sweet stories sprinkled in there, and some funny instances, but towards the end of the book I just got frustrated at the situation and how the lines weren’t connecting in the cause and effects. I am, however, grateful for the heart of the author and his passion for Lance, they really seemed like quite the pair the first half of the book and I easily fell in love with Lance myself. His care-free, exploratory nature reminded me so much of my Watson, and it was sad to watch him turn into the misunderstood, aggressive dog.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars because the book itself is well written and includes lots of pictures with Lance, but there was a decent amount of cursing present and I’m really just not sure how I feel about the story.

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