To start, this is my first book review so bear with me! I’m not exactly sure how to do this, so sharing my unbiased opinion will have to do.
I can’t remember how or where I first learned about Rob Kugler and his dog, Bella- people are always tagging me in stories about the profound bond between humans and dogs, and I’m sure I found out about the two of them the same way. I remember crying when I read their story- they were still on the road together when I first found them on Instagram in 2016- and I cried again when I saw the post that Bella had passed. Rob has a gift for story telling, and my heart broke for his.
As I’ve continued to follow his adventures on Instagram, I was thrilled to see that he was writing a book about he and Bella’s adventures! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, and downloaded from Kindle the day it came out.
As I said before, Rob definitely has a gift for storytelling and I truly enjoyed getting to read his backstory and Bella’s entrance into his life. When you’re close to a dog, when they’re your heart, they witness so much of life with you; so many changes in a way that’s not often experienced in human relationships. As someone who has that bond with my dog, I was honored to peek into someone else’s bond.
I come from a military family, with a brother who served an Army Infantry tour in Iraq and a fiancé in the Air Force, so I connected with the book in that regard as well. “A Dog Named Beautiful” shares an important perspective on military service that was certainly valuable for me to read. I don’t want to reveal major aspects of the book to those who haven’t read it yet, but I am truly grateful for all of those who’ve served our country and their families.
The original story that I saw on Huffpost or Buzzfeed or wherever it was, introduced me to so many possibilities! I did start writing a bucket list for Boots, though at that time it was probably weighted pretty heavily in the direction of things that would make me happy. As I’ve grown older and wiser, and as my relationship with Boots has continued to grow, my bucket list for the two of us has shifted to what I know he’ll enjoy. This book will definitely remind you of how precious the finite amount of time we get with our dogs is. I’m certain it will inspire many people to hit the road with their pups- I really hope Boots and I have that opportunity one day (Ranger isn’t a big fan of the car.) Something I really enjoyed throughout the book was the universal way that loving a dog deeply bonds humans- dog people just get it. I’m not surprised at all by the amount of people who opened their homes and hearts to Rob and Bella, as I know Chris and I would do the same if we had the opportunity.
If you know anything at all about Rob and Bella’s story, you know that there are very hard, sad moments in the book. I really felt as though I was going through them too. It taught me a lot about terminal illness, hospice, and end of life care in dogs. Despite working with them for a living, I really wasn’t aware of some of the options available to help your pup have the best last moments possible. Being able to honor your bond is so incredibly important, and the ways in which Rob described doing so definitely taught me some things. The grief process is very personal, but I did appreciate Rob sharing the reality of it with all of us.
I spent an entire self care day on the couch with Boots and my iPad on my lap- I finished reading it in about 6 hours total because I couldn’t put it down! I think anyone who has a special dog and a life altering bond with them will really enjoy this book.
If you pick it up, let me know what you think!