This is the second book I have reviewed recently about the use of dogs during wartime to carry messages, or in this case to help search for people in bombed out buildings. There is a promising beginning in which when Jack goes off to war, his dog Misty runs off in the midst of an air raid. Misty, who is near to the time when her pups will be born, takes refuge in Wood Green Underground station. Daniel, a shell shocked ex-soldier, is living in a room in the station and witnesses the birth and early days of the two pups and Misty’s growing illness, all of them watched over by a one-eyed cat. Meanwhile Jack’s sister is looking for Misty and encounters the Ward family who have taken in many animals after the bombing of their homes.
The story then gets more complicated with the introduction of the possibility of a War Dog School being created, as it is was in the First World War. The two pups are separated; one ends up living with the Ward family and being trained for war work, while the other is helped by Daniel and, after he is injured, goes on to save people trapped in the station after a bombing raid.
This is a story with too many characters, and one which tries to do too much. If it had simply told the story of the dogs – which is heartbreaking and inspiring – then this would have been a much better book. By trying to include the campaign to set up the War Dog School the main story loses its focus. A few commas here and there would have helped too!