Sami the Wooly: The Most Beautiful Dog in the World
by Jay Hersch (Colombia 1964–66)
Peace Corps Writers
$12.50 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)
Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77)
AS YOU CAN SURMISE from the title, Sami the Wooly has a target audience of readers who are dog lovers. In addition to telling Sami’s story, it touches on the lives of six other Siberian Huskies that the author and his family have had in their lives. The author gushes over all of the huskies, but describes Sami as extremely special.
For those interested in the Siberian Husky breed, there is just enough history of the breed. Also there is just a bit of information about dealing with a breed association and professional dog breeders.
The author points out that the high-energy, freedom-loving huskies are not the right dog breed for everybody, and gives the reader several examples from Sami’s life, and those of the family’s other huskies, to illustrate. So if you’re thinking about adopting a husky I strongly recommend that you read this book first!
I would classify this as a coffee table book. It features large type and many color photos of Sami and the other huskies. The photos, nearly all featuring the dogs, are so beautiful, you will not be surprised to read in his bio that author is also a professional photographer. You can supplement your reading experience with several YouTube videos listed in the book.
The author frequently waxes philosophical when describing the relationships between humans and their dogs. My favorite quotable sentence is: “If God created man, surely man created dogs.” As he points out, our experience of the life cycles of dogs and other pets, whose lives are typically much shorter than our own, helps us learn to deal with the finiteness of our own existence.
While not specifically for children, Sami the Wooly is a great book to read to your young children, or if you are closer to my age, to your grandchildren. At 88 pages, it is a quick read, and every dog lover will find the photos irresistible.
The book does not appear to have been professionally edited, though this may have been done purposefully to preserve the stream-of-consciousness aspect of much of the prose. Don’t read it critically, attempting to critique grammar and sentence structure! The best way to approach this book is with that completely nonjudgmental attitude that our dogs treat us humans with. Just enjoy the flow of the prose, recognizing that at times it approaches poetry. This is a love story involving human beings and dogs. Enjoy it for its beauty, thoughtful insights and sincerity.
Reviewer D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture Volunteer in El Salvador from 1974 to 1976 and in Costa Rica from 1976 to 1977. His blog about his Peace Corps years is at: dwjefferson.blogspot.com He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.
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