The Under­dogs

  • From the Publisher
May 3, 2016

When Rab­bi Har­vey and Don­nie Winokur of Atlanta brought home a son from a Russ­ian orphan­age in 1999, they plunged into a life of bed­lam, exhaus­tion, con­fu­sion, and iso­la­tion: it turned out that Iyal was severe­ly brain-dam­aged by Fetal Alco­hol Syndrome.

When Iyal was nine, Don­nie dis­cov­ered 4 Paws for Abil­i­ty, a ser­vice dog acad­e­my in Ohio train­ing dogs for chil­dren. In time, the Winokurs were matched with Chancer, a big, self-con­fi­dent gold­en retriev­er unfazed by Iyal’s melt­downs. The house­hold sta­bi­lized and Iyal had his first-ever friend.

The Under­dogs tells the sto­ry of the Winokurs and half a dozen oth­er fam­i­lies across the Unit­ed States con­tend­ing with their chil­dren’s autism, attach­ment dis­or­der, seizure dis­or­der, or ter­mi­nal ill­ness. The fam­i­ly sto­ries are inter­wo­ven with cur­rent sci­ence on the amaz­ing capac­i­ties of dogs, with experts explor­ing how a dog like Chancer is able to offer safe haven, friend­ship, and fun to a boy like Iyal.

Discussion Questions