guest post by Tegan Whalan
Tegan Whalan is a dog enthusiast from South Australia. Tegan is trained as a middle-school teacher, though is currently employed as coordinator of a school-based dog safety program. One of her academic interests is the human-animal bond, which is one of the many issues she examines on her blog Some Thoughts About Dogs.
A Puppy Called Aero is a heart-warming, easy-to-read autobiography written by teenager, Liam Creed. Liam has ADHD and was lucky enough to be chosen for the BBC documentary, The Doghouse. In this documentary, he and other ‘troubled teens’ were sent to participate in the Canine Partners program, training dogs for disabled people.
What started as Liam’s desire to get out of school soon led to multifaceted positive impacts upon Liam’s life. Liam is given the opportunity to make a difference, and he suddenly, for the first time, also has the potential to let people down. From school to home to love, Liam’s work with Labrador, Aero, at Canine Partners has a profound influence on Liam’s coming of age.
This touching tale is told from Liam’s perspective. This means that readers get a rare insight into ADHD through Liam’s scattered and chaotic prose. This, however, should not be off putting! When reading this book, one develops a natural affection for Liam — the good boy who sometimes does bad things — and the manner this book is written adds to this affection.
Lovingly, Liam talks about his mother and their relationship. He reflects, apologetically, on constantly disappointing her and his frustration at his own behaviour. Overwhelmingly, Liam warmly describes his childhood and home life. Clearly, Liam loves his mother and, as a young adult writing his autobiography, he is evidently grateful for his family’s commitment and love, before and after diagnosis.
Liam has his own suggestions on how school should’ve treated him. Through his work with Canine Partners, he makes parallels between dog training and his school experience. Ultimately, Liam thinks that perhaps he should have experienced a little more positive reinforcement throughout his school life. This, along with Liam’s personal insights on the condition, makes the story a must read for teachers with ADHD students as well. I could also see this text being used as a reader in schools, to help children understand the mindset of their affected classmates.
This moving story showcases the power of the human-animal bond, and how the non-judgemental ear and unconditional love of a dog can have an intense impact. Liam highlights the similarities between himself and Aero — “puppies have ADHD, too.”
I received this book with a sticker on the front stating, “Love this book, or your money back.” I must say, I can understand how the publishers can make this claim as I am struggling to think of anyone that wouldn’t enjoy this book. Anyone who is involved with ADHD, such as parents, families, teachers, and friends, and any animal lovers would find something moving in Liam’s story.
Does your child with ADHD have a dog? Do you see an important bond? Does the dog help your child with symptoms? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to order this book [be forewarned, it’s not easy to purchase in the U.S., you’ll likely have to order it from the U.K.]
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