Eric O’Grey was at the end of his rope before he met Peety. O’Grey was 70kg overweight, popping pills to keep his numerous diseases in check, and a bankrupt with a dead social life. But the final straw came when he delayed a flight because he couldn’t fit in his seat.
Desperate and humiliated, O’Grey went to a doctor who gave him a unique prescription: Get a dog.
O’Grey surprised himself by doing just that. He visited a shelter and adopted a dog that was just like him: Overweight and alone in the world. He named the dog Peety.
How the story progresses from then on will come as no surprise to fans of animal memoirs. O’Grey, having a dog depend on him, felt like he had something to live for at last. His daily walks with his furpal helped him lose weight. Eventually, he even got off medications and revived his stalled life. Also, the dog was a people magnet, and as a result, O’Grey began meeting new people and visiting places.
O’Grey’s story initially received attention through a YouTube video an animal shelter charity made of him. The video has since been viewed more than a million times. Walking With Peety gives more details about how O’Grey changed his life, so fans of the video might still want to get the book.
Besides Peety, O’Grey’s embrace of veganism was key in his transformation too. However, his evangelistic zeal for the lifestyle can be a bit of a turn off for some. For example, O’Grey not only preferred to date vegans at one point, but also insisted on feeding Peety a vegan diet. That may not sit well with some. Personally, I feel we should let dogs be dogs, ie, omnivores.
Still, a good rule of thumb when it comes to reading memoirs is to not judge the writer’s experiences. Reading memoirs through the lens of your own values might lead to missed opportunities to learn from other people’s experiences.
Unfortunately, there are times when O’Grey focuses so much on his veganism lifestyle that Peety is relegated to the background, making me wonder if Walking With Peety should be renamed Walking With A Vegan. I would have preferred O’Grey wrote more about Peety’s quirks and personality and thus have him truly come to life in the reader’s mind.
But these negatives are not overwhelming. O’Grey’s transformation is indeed inspiring. In the end, Walking With Peety is a testament to the transforming power of love – of having the unconditional love of an animal, and having someone (or something) to care for besides oneself.
Walking With Peety: The Dog Who Saved My Life
Author: Eric O’Grey & Mark Dagostino
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, memoir