Review Dog Walker by Karen Spafford-Fitz

Girls Like Dogs and Guys Who Walk Them

Dog Walker by Karen Spafford-Fitz is one of the Orca Currents series of high-interest books for reluctant readers. At 110 pages, it's a short book with an amusing plot and engaging characters, set in Edmonton, Alberta. A fun short read for pre-teens to young adults.

Starting a Dog-Walking Business

Winston Turkington, known to his friends as "Turk", is a grade nine boy with two problems.

He's broke. His parents have cut off his allowance. "Get a job," his mother tells him.He's invisible to girls. Except for his childhood buddy Carly, who doesn't count, the babes pay him no attention whatever.When chance dumps an untrained and ill-behaved dog in his lap, a female furniture-chewing, rug-wetting cockapoo named "Gretzky", his life has reached its lowest point.

The turnaround comes when Turk realizes that the ladies adore the cute little dog. He is suddenly able to attract female attention (admittedly, via the dog) and finds himself able to smile and chat in return.

Recognizing an opportunity, Turk organizes a dog-walking service and hires his equally girl-deprived friends to walk the pooches while he, as manager, collects half the fees. The money-making idea works wonderfully:

His friends start meeting girls and getting datesHe is making money and no longer needs to cadge off his friendsHis parents are off his back a bitTurk realizes that Carly is actually an attractive young woman, and she goes from "buddy" to "girlfriend".This state of affairs is, of course, too good to last.

Carly entrusts her beloved dog Buddy to Turk's care. Nobody walks Buddy but Turk.

Until Turk's obnoxious body-building locker neighbor Chuck ("Upchuck" to his lack of friends) horns in on the action and cons Turk's unsuspecting parents into giving Buddy to his non-too-tender care.

The frantic Turk has to track down Buddy before disaster strikes, and then somehow win back Carly's trust.

Further Comments on Dog Walker by Karen Spafford-Fitz

The book is set in the Garneau and Strathcona areas of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, though as seems typical in the Currents series, the city itself is not named. Landmarks such as Whyte Avenue, the University of Alberta, and the Butterdome are named and clearly locate the action, but it does seem odd that the city itself is never mentioned.

The opening chapters, with Turk's workaholic father, by-the-book mother, and the introduction to the cockapoo Gretzky, are hilarious, arousing an instant sympathy for the protagonist.

The plot kinks are believable and amusing, and the changes in Turk's attitudes towards dogs, exercise, Carly, and life are sustained by the action. Overall, an enjoyable read.

Spafford-Fitz, Karen, Dog Walker. Custer, WA: Orca Book Publishers, 2006. ISBN 1-55143-533-0.

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