Nubs:The True Story of a Mutt, A Marine & A Miracle

by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery. Little, Brown & Co. for Young Readers, $17.99

Nubs_CoverThis inspiring and passionate volume is designed for children, but it will capture the heart of adults, too.

The centerpieces are Nubs, a German shepherd/border collie, and Dennis, a Marine serving a second tour of duty in Iraq in autumn 2007.

Nubs, a wild dog that along with others forage Iraq forts along the Syrian border seeking food, received his name from Dennis as a result of his stubby ears that had been cut off at some point. The two bonded instantly on their first meeting, but the dog was distraught when the major and his 10-member unit departed a fort the following day in Humvees, chasing the vehicles a long distance across the desert before giving up.

In the beautifully illustrated volume (many photos were shot by Dennis), you follow their meetings  at the fort and an incredible two-day, 70-mile, on-foot journey by Nubs in pursuit of Dennis  across the cold, coarse sand with little to eat or drink.  In the process, he ventures through territories protected by wolves and other packs of wild dogs.

When Nubs finally spots Dennis, he runs and leaps into his arms, with tongue out and tail wagging. Little did Nubs realize, however, dogs are forbidden in a war-zone outpost, and Dennis is faced with finding another home for him within four days, or else!  But how could the Marine and his unit reject this incredibly dedicated waif?

Recognizing Nubs’ loyalty and caught in a psychological crossfire, Dennis establishes a Save Nubs Fund, seeking $2,000 in small donations to send the kindred spirit home to San Diego, where the major would be headed within a couple of months.  It proves successful, and with a little help from his friends, Dennis is reunited with the dog March 23, 2008, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., a mere six months following their first meeting in Iraq and today lives a contented life in Southern California.

Throughout, this glossy, inspirational narrative veers smoothly between serious and charismatic while showcasing the celebratory energy of love and commitment.

Co-author Larson lives in Kenmore.