The Man with the Black Dog
by Mario Cesare
4 stars - OK, a literary 3 stars, but it gets an extra star for having so much heart
ALR Yellow - some scary stuff, but the author doesn't dwell on things or sensationalize them and neither did I
This is the tale of Mario Cesare, game reserve manager, ecotourist guide, and all around animal lover, and his beloved dog, Shilo.
After a brief introduction into his pre-Shilo life, Mr. Cesare focuses on the 14 years that he and Shilo worked together and the incredible bond they had.
I'm oddly at a loss for words even though I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I suppose because the book was, for me, more of a sensation than a story. Mr. Cesare's love for his dog wraps around the reader like a warm blanket.
Through his various jobs in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, the reader learns about the magnificent wildlife that is part of Africa. Now I have no doubt that he's seen some pretty terrible things, but while there are some scary moments involving animals, the author doesn't provide gory details and he has omitted any stories that include undue suffering. Rather, he focuses on the times he can put an animal out of its misery or when reckless beasts have close encounters that turn out OK.
Shilo obviously had to learn a lot in order to survive in the bush. Mr. Cesare trained Shilo using only his own instincts and empathy. Subsequently, he manages to teach Shilo to follow life saving rules without ever having to use force or punishment. He's a natural.
Interestingly, if you google Mario Cesare, there are few hits save for his book. That made me like him even more. He comes across as a gentle, caring person who is not interested in his own fame, so his low Internet profile reinforced that impression.