The Underdogs: Children, Dogs and the Power of Unconditional Love

First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary presented by AJC

Sunday, 1:15-2:00

Two-time National Book Award finalist Melissa Fay Greene shares extraordinary stories of dogs bringing children with disabilities and their families new levels of engagement with the world, independence, and self-worth. She explores these often Lassie-like canine miracles by the light of the latest findings in neuroscience and animal behavior.

In The Underdogs: Children, Dogs and the Power of Unconditional Love, Greene provides poignant, inspiring case studies from 4 Paws, the nation's largest organization whose primary mission is to place dogs with children affected by autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, attachment disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, seizure disorders, Down Syndrome, dwarfism, and other challenges, Greene weaves the latest scientific discoveries about our co-evolution with dogs and about the cognitive and emotional capacities of our four-legged friends. Written with this acclaimed writer’s characteristic insight, humanity, humor, and irrepressible joy, what could have been merely a touching account of a worthwhile nonprofit becomes a penetrating, compassionate exploration of larger questions: about our attachment to dogs, about what constitutes a productive life, and about what can be accomplished with unconditional love.


Melissa Fay Greene

Melissa Fay Greene is the author of five books of nonfiction: Praying for Sheetrock, The Temple Bombing, Last Man Out, There Is No Me Without You, and No Biking in the House Without A Helmet. Twice nominated for the National Book Award and short-listed for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Greene has received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, the ACLU National Civil Liberties Award, the Hadassah Myrtle Wreath Award, the Salon Book Award, Elle Magazine’s Readers’ Prize, and a Dog Writers of America Award. Praying For Sheetrock was named one of the top 100 works of American journalism of the 20th century and appears on Entertainment Weekly‘s list of “The New Classics–The 100 Best Books of the Last 25 Years.”

Currently a Guggenheim Fellow, Greene has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post, among many other publications, and has been a frequent guest on CNN and on a wide range of NPR programs. Several of her articles have been adapted as feature stories on TV newsmagazines and two of the subjects of her articles (including Karen Shirk) have been CNN Heroes of the Year. Greene’s books have been translated into 15 languages; Praying for Sheetrock is under development for a cable TV series, and The Temple Bombing is being adapted as a stage play by the prominent Alliance Theater of Atlanta. She has taught literary nonfiction as a visiting writer at Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Emory, and other universities.


Kate Tuttle

Kate Tuttle writes on books for the Boston Globe. Her reviews, interviews, and essays have also appeared in Salon, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Rumpus, and elsewhere. A board member of the National Book Critics Circle, she also serves as director of the Decatur Writers Studio, a newly launched literary center that is a project of the Decatur Book Festival. Tuttle lives in Decatur with her husband and son.