In this exceptionally touching memoir, critically acclaimed author Monica Holloway shares the extraordinary, deeply moving story of Cowboy, the golden retriever puppy who changed her son's life.
The day Monica learns that her lovable, brilliant three-year-old son, Wills, has autism spectrum disorder, she takes him to buy an aquarium. It's the first in a string of impulsive trips to the pet store to buy animals as a distraction from the uncontrollable, crushing reality of Wills's diagnosis. But while Wills diligently tends to the growing menagerie, what he really wants is a puppy. And one Christmas, when Wills is six, Cowboy Carol Lawrence joins their family.
Like all dynamic duos, Cowboy and Wills complement each other perfectly. Wills is cautious, fastidious, and irresistibly tenderhearted. Cowboy, a rambunctious golden retriever, is overeager, affectionate, and impulsive. And from the moment Cowboy enters their lives, Monica sees her son step a little farther into the world.
Soon, the boy who could barely say hello to his classmates in kindergarten is sharing stories of his new "sister" Cowboy during morning circle. Children crowd around them at the park, and instead of running away, Wills, holding Cowboy's leash in his sweaty fist, proudly answers all of their questions. With Cowboy, he finds the courage to invite kids over for playdates, overcomes his debilitating fear of water to swim along beside her in the family pool, and, after years of gentle coaxing, Wills finally sleeps in his own bed with Cowboy's paws draped across his small chest.
Through it all, Cowboy is there, dragging him toward other children, giving him the confidence to try new things and the courage to face his worst fears. And when Cowboy turns out to need her new family as much as they need her, they discover just how much she has taught them -- about devotion, about loyalty, and about never giving up.
Sometimes it's what you don't know to hope for that saves you. For Monica, her husband, Michael, and their son, Wills, salvation came in the form of a puppy with pale blond fur, chocolate brown eyes, a fondness for chewing the crotch out of underpants, and a limitless capacity for love.
Monica Holloway is the critically acclaimed author of the memoir Driving With Dead People, described by Newsweek as “unforgettable,” Glamour christened “a classic,” and the Washington Post deemed “irresistible.” She contributed to the anthology Mommy Wars, from which her essay “Red Boots and Cole Haans” was described by Newsday as “brilliant, grimly hilarious.” Holloway lives with her family in Los Angeles.
What a wonderful, amazing memoir that Monica Holloway shares with each lucky reader. Holloway writes beautifully and especially after I heard her voice on the short video about this book, I could hear her voice in my head reading to me as I read this book. This is a book filled with emotional tugs at your heart for many reasons. First and foremost, is Wills. Monica's son, Wills, was diagnosed at age three, with autism spectrum disorder. What is now fact is that 1 in 150 children born will be diagnosed with autism of which 1 in 84 are boys. As I was told when I was teaching, if you haven't already found someone in your life with autism, you will very soon. And my last two years teaching, I did indeed have 3 amazing children with autism in my classes...and I consider myself the lucky one to have been part of these very special youngsters who taught me so much.
Wills is an amazing, intelligent, lovable child and when one realizes how his autism effects him, it is easier to see why he does things his way and you have to marvel at him as well as how his parents who devote their life and love to this child. His mother had to deal with each of Will's challenges in her own way and one of them was to bring pets into the home. This helped more than she knew and certainly when she did turn to psychologists and specialists she saw how these animals had helped Will to make transitions as it drew him out of his shell. Each hermit crab and rabbit were one more step to winning small battles in his young life. However, when the puppy that Will wanted so much became part of the family, Wills really began to make great strides especially in socialization. Instead of an introverted autistic child, he became a playful young boy who could laugh and enjoy new friends. With each of these small triumphs for Wills, there was also beneficial effects for Monica. She was able to realize that she had also become isolated in Wills' world before Cowboy came along and opened up many doors for both of them.
Cowboy Carol Lawrence, an adorable golden retriever, came to Wills for Christmas as a puppy. Monica had a great deal of trouble finding this special dog that Wills wanted, and she finally had to get her from what she thought was a reputable pet store that supposedly didn't deal with puppy mills. Once Cowboy entered their lives, Wills was able to have more control over his life which was very important in dealing with his autism. His ability to transfer his fears and doubts to his loyal pet, helped him to lead a more "normal" childhood. And so, with this precious pup came new found hope. But when Cowboy herself has to face her own problems, she is not alone. She has a family that loves her and supports her in every way they can. As the reader becomes a part of this family's life, you will also feel the pain along with the triumphs that Cowboy, Wills, and his parents experience. Keep your tissues handy, but also enjoy the laughs at what I found to be one of the most enjoyable, well written memoirs I have read in a long time. Thank you, Wills and Monica for the pleasure.
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copies of this wonderful
book that will be personally
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