Rose in a Storm by Jon Katz
Trinity, our greyhound mix, was a natural leader. She would break up cat fights by putting her head between the fighting cats. Whenever there was dissent among our dogs, she would stare them down until they retreated. When our cat was dying and had to sleep in the bathroom the night before she took her final trip to the vet, Trinity slept on the other side of the door. We had no idea what a positive effect she had on the dynamics of our household until she passed away. Now the cats fight right next to one of our dogs' heads and they just lie there looking at them as if to say, “Will you look at that!”
The novel Rose in a Storm is Jon Katz's first fiction in 10 years. Jon Katz usually writes nonfiction books about his farm, Bedlam Farm, an hour outside of Albany, NY, where ironically, his lead farm dog is named Rose. It is a wonderful example of how a little book can be so much more than the reader expects. The book is written from Rose’s perspective. Rose is the best farm dog in the county, and her reputation is so good that other farmers have borrowed Rose when they have had problems on their farms. She and Sam, the farmer, share an excellent non-verbal bond as they work the farm on a daily basis. But their life is turned upside down when a catastrophic blizzard envelops the farm and all of the animals that they have are in danger of freezing to death or being attacked by coyotes.
Not everyone is a natural leader, but when a situation becomes difficult, a leader will emerge. Rose is a natural leader who works to protect the animals and Sam as the situation goes from bad to worse. Sometimes a leader is someone who has to think ahead and see the whole situation before making a decision. A leader is then someone who makes a plan and moves quickly without regrets. Sometimes being a leader also means completely coming to a stop to patiently be beside someone who cannot go any further. A leader is often someone who also stares death in the face and keeps on fighting anyway.
This book did something that is almost never done. Without being sappy or maudlin, it brought me to tears. This little book about a working farm dog snuck up on me with its integrity and wisdom. As the granddaughter of farmers on both my mother's and father’s sides of the family, it brought back so many memories in this realistic glimpse into how hard it is to be a farmer. However, even though farming has so many struggles, there are also so many reasons to celebrate life. Thank you, Jon Katz.