Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Read The Underdogs by Melissa Fay Greene

(February 12, 2018) – The Big Read is going to the dogs! The annual community reading project hosted by area libraries, colleges, Books & Co., and others, is focused this spring on the unique ability of dogs to impact human lives.

authorBy popular vote last fall, readers chose The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love by Melissa Fay Greene to be the topic of book discussions and special events taking place March 4-April 14 across the Miami Valley. The Underdogs tells the story of Xenia, Ohio-based service dog organization, 4 Paws for Ability and its founder, Karen Shirk. The book weaves the latest scientific discoveries with Karen’s story and the stories of children with disabilities and their families.

Sponsoring libraries have a variety of dog-focused programs scheduled – ranging from dog massage to basic obedience to K-9 law enforcement and more. 4 Paws for Ability will lead more than a dozen programs giving insight into their service dog training program, along with demonstrations by a dog in training. There are also more than 30 book discussions scheduled at participating libraries.

“The book showcases a nationally recognized organization that is based right here in the Miami Valley, and we’re looking forward to all the excellent discussions and other programs related to the book and its themes,” said Dayton Metro Library’s Ben Murphy, co-chair of The Big Read.


 Author Melissa Fay Greene, along with 4 Paws founder Karen Shirk, pays a visit to the Dayton Metro Library on Thursday, April 12, 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library’s Eichelberger Forum. They will talk about the book, the dogs that are trained at 4 Paws, and the wonderful families they serve. Audience questions are welcome.

“We’re eager to learn about how Ms. Greene researched her book, how she worked with Ms. Shirk on the project, and to hear more about families who have been impacted by the unconditional love of dogs,” said Murphy. It will be a homecoming for the author, who lived in Dayton when she was a child. The program is free and open to the public.

A complete schedule of events, as well as information on the book and the author, is available at

Big Read Sponsors are:

Books and Co
Bradford Public Library
Dayton Metro Library
Franklin-Springboro Public Library
Germantown Public Library
Greene County Public Library
Kettering College
New Carlisle Public Library
Project READ
Sinclair Community College
Tipp City Public Library
Troy-Miami County Public Library
University of Dayton
Washington-Centerville Public Library
Wright Memorial Public Library
Wright State University Libraries