Best Mate is a book for young readers, approximately 10 years of age. I picked up my copy at an outdoor market for just $3 (the book was originally published in 2007). Since I am now the proud owner of a re-homed racing greyhound, it was the greyhound on the cover that caught my eye.
It was, of course, an easy read. But I can highly recommend this book which tells the story of a greyhound pup rescued by a small boy, Patrick, on his way to school. Named ‘Best Mate’, the pup was discarded in a river canal in a sack with his litter mates.
And so begins a story of a dog and a child’s insight into animal cruelty. Best Mate loves Patrick and Patrick loves him. The two are separated when Best Mate is stolen for racing. There he meets a young girl named Becky who names him Brighteyes and he makes a friend with another racing greyhound.
But that is not the end of his story, or the cruelty that the book portrays. Be prepared to support the young reader in your home: Best Mate’s friend is killed when he can no longer win races.
Best Mate will ultimately be re-homed yet again before the end of the book, and this time he ends up with the name Paddywack.
There are a few chapters in this book written from Best Mate’s perspective. The only thing that would strengthen the book is to hear more from Best Mate himself.
This book should be on your child’s reading list. It is a good introduction into animal welfare issues and a good first insight into the greyhound racing industry.
My reading of this book is all the more timely since news has hit the media this week about ‘live baiting’ in Australian greyhound racing…the book doesn’t portray live baiting, but I felt a connection to the story nonetheless because of the headlines.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand