The Amazing Healing Power of a Dog

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When an arsonist turned Alison Hodgson's family's home into a crime scene, the love and antics of a little black pug named Oliver helped them recover. This West Michigan animal lover is also a writer, speaker, humorist and survivor. Her debut book, The Pug List: A Ridiculous Little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything, and How They All Found Their Way Home, is a heart-warming story about the unexpected ways we all find our way home.

When fire alarms began sounding in the Hodgson home, Alison couldn't believe what was happening. Moreover, she couldn't believe the flames that engulfed her house had been intentionally set.

"We all have these key moments when everything shifts and life is forever divided. We go about our days with the illusion we are in control until something happens. The veil is torn away, and it's suddenly so clear we are not. So often, we only recognize it in hindsight."

Before this life-changing fire, the Hodgson family had talked about rescuing a pug. Amidst all of the trauma and chaos, Alison's youngest daughter, Eden, still had her heart set on a pug. While Alison and her husband, Paul, were busy dealing with insurance adjusters and builders, Eden's journal style "Pug List" had become the little girl's sole focus. The Hodgson children had all been traumatized. Who could imagine a silly little pug was exactly what the family needed?

Enter Oliver.

Oliver spent his first three years at a puppy mill, kept outdoors in a small cage. Alison and her family adopted him from the breeder who rescued him. Oliver, who wasn't quite housebroken, left a lot of "surprises" around the Hodgson family's new home—but he also filled the home with love, affection and laughter. This silly little pug, whose tongue sticks out the side of his mouth, needed his new family as much as they needed him.

Alison Hodgson's The Pug List was released Tuesday, April 5, 2016. This story of recovery and healing will warm your heart, and might be the catalyst behind the adoption of your new family pet!

Written by Lisa Stickler, staff writer for West Michigan Woman magazine.

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