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17 December, 2013
Wayne Ramsay’s simple memoir The Gold Plated Dog depicts a special dog and the great sacrifices made to extend his life.
Roscoe, a Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix, is six weeks old when he begins life with Jeanette and Wayne Ramsay of Victoria, Australia. From the start, Roscoe is exceptional in beauty as well as temperament and intelligence. By age five, however, trips to the vet for other than the “yearly needles” begin.
First, there is a $1,700 replacement ligament in the left rear leg, then a $3,500 surgery to remove a malignancy from the back of his tongue. At age 12, Roscoe is in constant arthritic pain and unable to walk more than 20 metres. Still, he maintains his gentle patience, trust, and unfaltering love for his guardians, who are determined to do all possible to restore his ability to walk, including extreme medical procedures at astronomical prices. Putting Roscoe down is out of the question, so both man and dog struggle valiantly through hope, defeat, and agonizing days.
The book carries a lovely message about the beauty and wonder of extending beyond the limits of one’s own selfish being through the act of giving and receiving unconditional love. The bridge between species here is exquisite, though the question remains: at what point is enough, enough for the well-being of both dog and man?
But while the intent of this book is noble, it suffers from writing issues. Because the narrative was written during a time of suffering, it is raw and rambling, excessive in detail and emotion (“With tears flowing,” “it brought tears to our eyes,” etc.), and repetitive. This work seems to be Ramsay’s means of dealing with in-the-throes grief. It is a profoundly personal piece of writing. As such, it lacks the style, reflection, depth and complexity that would make it a meaningful read for the public at large.
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