If the cover of A Gift to Share: The Story of Moritz doesn’t draw you in, this story may not be for you. But the adorable, chubby Bernese mountain dog puppy, surrounded by a border of colorful wildflowers, and the red background of the book made it oh-so-inviting
to this reader. I was not disappointed. By the way, this is a true story.
Author Barry Schieber found Moritz, his dog, in Switzerland, where Schieber was recovering from an illness. This is the first in a series of three children’s picture books about that special canine, who has become a successful pet therapy dog. The book is inscribed “to the generosity in us all,” as Moritz is obviously a loving, generous dog with a placid, playful temperament. If you know these gentle giants, you will also know that they are among the most beautiful of the dog breeds.
The story is told in the first person by Moritz, who was born in the Swiss Alps to a mother named Deika. Early on, Deika whispered to him,
"You have a gift to share. You can help to heal people and make them happy." Moritz at a young age realizes that he does, indeed. When a middle-aged American man from Montana comes to look at the pups, Moritz feels
that he looks gentle: “Right away I felt at home in his arms.” It
is hard to leave his family and harder still to fly in an airplane to his new home. But he sleeps through the trying time and loves
his new home “with forests, lakes and snow everywhere.” They
walk, and “I grew and grew and grew,” reflects Moritz.
They attend obedience classes, and when Moritz is about one year old, his human companion asks him it he’d like to try visiting people in the local hospital. Moritz takes to the work like a lab takes to the water, and he becomes
certified to do this work. This book provides a good introduction to the breed and to some of the healing work therapy
that animals can do.
A Gift to Share is a charming book with beautiful, vivid illustrations and tender words. The only possible danger to this book
is that many kids who like dogs and read it may start asking for a Bernese mountain dog of their own. Warning: These dogs have a thick, double coat and weigh in at 75 pounds and up.
Check out Moritz’s website at
www.nose-to-nose.com. He has become something of a celebrity and receives fan mail.