Eager to Serve: Diary of a Service Dog
by Margaret Peiffer; illustrator Daniel Majan
Trafford Publishing

"(Service dogs) are strong, calm, and patient. ... They excel at all kinds of jobs when properly trained."

Eager to Serve is the fictionalized autobiography of a guide dog named Ana, who is named for a character who performed a rescue in the story Frozen. The book is geared to children. Ana recounts being with her mother in an animal shelter when they both were chosen as service dog candidates. She describes her first level of training with a family, with which she lived for a year. During her stay, Ana loves the three children in the family. She learns basic commands: "sit," "stay," "come," "down," "no," "off," and "heel". She also learns appropriate behavior in public places, and when riding the subway. Her abilities as a service dog become apparent since, not only does she learn quickly, but she loves people: responding to them, pleasing them, and receiving praise. The dog then recounts that, sadly, she leaves the family to pursue a higher level of instruction with a professional trainer. The woman teaches her directions, and actions such as "focus" and "brace." She also learns to "handle loud noises," and to deal appropriately in "crowded places." Finally, Ana recounts, she meets Amy, a nine-year-old fourth grader. Amy had been blinded in an accident, and she and Ana adjust well to life in school, with helpful friends and a wise teacher.

Occasionally, tenses are mixed, and once, sentences mix between the second and third person. However, the message that service animals and their humans are happy and secure, and love one another, comes across loudly and clearly. The emphasis has much to do with patience, understanding, and learning. It is a good tool for children who meet others with disabilities. The story also emphasizes the bond that exists between the person and the service animal. It ends with a letter that Ana, now retired, would like to write to Amy. It reads in part, "You, Amy, were the special person in my life. It was important to me to be faithful and earn your love, trust, and praise. We shared many happy times together."

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