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the dog that whispered book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Have you ever thought your dog was trying to talk to you? Or at least paying really close attention (cocking his head sideways, raising ears and staring at you with great intensity) when you were talking to him? (Or her, of course!) After you read The Dog That Whispered, you might realize the concept isn’t so far-fetched, after all.

Thurman is the dog who whispers, well, actually growls and grumbles but in an almost conversational way. After seeing him on TV as a dog up for adoption, Gretna Steele felt so strongly about him that she took herself off to the Animal Shelter to adopt him. Only after they were both back at her apartment did she discover that as a tenant of the Heritage Square Senior Apartments and Retirement Village, she was not allowed to have a dog. That little problem meant nothing to Gretna, for didn’t she have a perfectly wonderful son who needed such a dog?

And that is how Thurman ended up living with Winston Steele, a professor of Literature at the University of Pittsburgh Oakland campus. Thurman was an amazingly well-behaved canine, seeming to know instinctively what Winston was trying to convey by way of simple commands.

Had Winston not known better, he would have sworn that Winston was trying to talk to him. Simple words, one at a time, frequently repeated over and over again.

Hungry.

Eat.

I understand.

Too much think.

Here. (to designate the room in which he wished to sleep.)

Friskies. (his favorite food, as opposed to ordinary kibble.)

Bunkum. (we all need an all-purpose word at times, so why not a dog? Especially a talking dog?)

Once Winston began to believe that Thurman really did talk, he began to talk to the dog, and amazing things started to happen. Winston’s eighty-five year-old Mom had been pushing him to date, even though he was nearly sixty. He didn’t need to date, he needed to retire. But, dating might lead – eventually – to grandchildren, of which Gretna had none, but dearly wanted at least one. To that end she labored intently to arrange a date between her son and Emily, the daughter of another resident at the home. Emily had been married, and now had three children, and to Gretna, step-grandchildren were every bit as valid as ordinary grandkids. Unfortunately, Winston was strangely dense on the subject. She’d just have to try harder, that’s all.

At the same time, in Portland, Oregon, Hazel Jamison, a young women in her mid-twenties, has finished the process of burying her Mom, and emptying out the house in which her Mom had lived for the past few years. There were no other relatives close by, so it all fell on Hazel. In an effort to move things along as quickly as possible, she sorted and discarded, and placed very low prices on things that might sell at a yard sale. One of these latter items was a huge wooden – almost immovable – desk.

It was this latter item that changed the course of Hazel’s life. When the young man who bought it was loading it into his pickup truck, an envelope fell out from under one of the drawers. There was no name on the envelope, but it could only have been her Mom’s, so Hazel thought to at least look before discarding it. She found an old photo – a young couple in wedding garb, and indeed on the rear it was inscribed: ‘Our Wedding’. Well! Mom had never admitted to even being married, preferring Hazel to grow up thinking she was illegitimate. The photo was accompanied by a small brass tag, on which was inscribed ‘#349-H’ and on the opposite side, said only Umpqua Bank.

A friendly former serviceman thought he recognized the uniform of the young man in the photo, and she was directed to another former serviceman, now residing in Phoenix. After selling her own condo, and all its belongings, Hazel bought a car and set out to discover the meaning behind all these recent strange events.

Of course, she does find her father. Gretna achieves her dearest wish – to have a grandchild, and Thurman is no longer worried about having to find another new home. At least he no longer has to growl, he can just whisper, as all of his collected humans now seem to understand him quite well.

This is perhaps the most fun, delightful book I’ve read this year. I cannot recommend it highly enough to any age reader, as it’s the closest thing to an all-purpose book that I’ve discovered in a very long time. I’d be willing to bet that you’ll want to go back to the beginning and read it all again. And again. It’s that much fun! It succeeds on every level – the plot, the characters, the writing. It is quite simply amazing.


First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by FaithWords. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.