October 26, 2020

Book review:  The Dog Lady of Mexico

The Dog Lady of Mexico
Alison Sawyer Current
November 16, 2018

Rose’s lifelong dream was to move to a tropical paradise and continue her work as an artist. She imagined waking up by the ocean, sipping her coffee on the beach and heading to her pottery studio. There she would spin sun-drenched inspirations while her husband would share his passion for food at his ocean side cantina. It was all coming together for Rose when a good deed changed her life forever. Little did she know that this small favor would gradually become an obsession that she could not ignore. Take a trip with The Dog Lady of Mexico – a fictional novel based on a true story. Follow this heart-wrenching journey of love, loss and survival while building an animal rescue on the tiny island of Isla Mujeres in Mexico.


The Dog Lady of Mexico offers a look at what rescue work is like and it’s not all wagging tails and happy adopters. It’s no surprise that rescuers tend to burn out, and reading this book, you have to wonder why Rose hasn’t crashed and burned, especially given the seemingly endless parade of puppies and adult dogs that arrive at her rescue. There are many small triumphs in the story, but just as many heartbreaking moments that would have stopped a less determined woman. It’s a good read and if you’re thinking rescue is a romantic undertaking, this book should change your mind.

The book is written as a novel, with fictional characters portraying events from the author’s real-life experiences as the “dog lady.” Since the author includes photos of many of the dogs mentioned in the book, I’d have liked this better if she’d written a non-fiction account, changing names to protect the innocent, or the guilty. As it was, I kept wondering if certain events were amalgams, or if they had happened as written. Did Alison (Rose in the book) really have a screaming melt-down? Did someone else? I’d have liked more information on how she gradually learned to give injections and set up IV lines. There’s an amazing learning curve from the first dog Rose rescues to housing over 40 dogs. It would have been interesting to read about this.

In the novel, the rescue efforts draw more and more volunteers and you are left with the sense that Rose and her friends will keep helping the dogs, with more and more clinics for spaying and neutering, and that people are noticing fewer stray dogs. From notes at the back of the book, it sounds like the author has developed an efficient organization and that speaking engagements may be helping with expenses.  I’d have liked more of that in the book. I also would have felt closer and more sympathetic toward a first-person telling of the events. Still, it’s a fascinating story, as one dog at a time is given a chance at a better life.

review by

Susan M. Ewing
Past president, Cat Writers’ Association
Past secretary, Dog Writers Association of America
Award-winning author, 14 animal books
“Cats! Train Your Owner” (Flash Cards)
Numerous magazine articles
Pet columnist


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