Marcella Bursey Brooks

September 17, 2020



In Brooks’ addictive novel, four delightful canines and their human parents find joy and competition in dog agility training.

On a sand pile in the Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende sits a medium-large mixed-breed dog that looks a like cross

“between an Airedale and an Irish Wolfhound.” Sad and hungry, he thinks he’ll never trust humans again. After the abuse

he suffered at the hands of the family that bought him as a puppy from a local market, he was lucky to escape alive. But

Sarah Pullman, a vacationing American, gradually builds a bond with him that turns into mutual love. For the first time in

his life, he is given a name: Michael Archangelo. Sarah returns to Pennsylvania with Michael, who’s destined to become

an agility star. Also in Pennsylvania, two other couples are training their own remarkable dogs. Topaz, a beautiful German

shorthaired pointer, lives with Jeanette and Cole Bancroft. Although Cole wishes the lovely purebred would honor her

heritage and chase the deer in their backyard, Jeanette and Topaz have a special connection. Topaz has the perfect

conformation to be a show dog but is utterly uninterested in prancing around a circle. Jeanette decides to train her in

agility, where her strength, intelligence, and grace will shine. Finally, in a neighboring town are two little rascals, small

Tibetan spaniels—Kissy (the adventurer) and Kawdje (the thinker)—and their human parents, Essie and Evan Kilmer.

Steadfastly zigzagging back and forth across the reality-fantasy line, Brooks amusingly shares the thoughts of all four

precocious pups as well as their often lengthy “conversations” with one another, producing some of the most entertaining

portions of the narrative. She also includes extensive detail about the rules and procedures for dog agility contests,

including routines, point systems, and minutiae of each of the attended competitions. While this is informative, after the

first few shows, readers not specifically interested in the sport may find themselves skipping pages here and there to get

back to the decidedly upbeat, personal human and canine dramas.


A good agility primer—and an imaginative escape for dog lovers.


Selected by Kirkus Indie Editors to be included in the 1/15 issue of Kirkus Reviews. Less than 10% of Indie authors are selected for this. 

The said review was included as 1 of 35 reviews in the Indie section of the magazine which goes out to industry professionals (literary agents,  librarians, publishers, book sellers and film executives).

Congratulations, Marcella!