Caleb, a remarkable dog, was born in Germany in 1935. He lived with his loving Jewish family until the Nazis forbade them to have a dog. A Nazi family adopts him and gives him to the SS, where he is trained to be a guard dog at a concentration camp. Caleb performs his duties admirably while acting as a keen observer of history and human nature. He sees the cruelty of the Nazis and the suffering that it caused, but he also witnesses the courage, loyalty, and friendship of the prisoners and those who aided them. He never forgets his original family.
This unique protagonist, who sees the world from twenty inches above the ground, has a keen sense of humor and irony as he wonders what, if anything, distinguishes people from dogs. This slim book offers a very unusual perspective on the Holocaust. While the atmosphere is bleak, it is not without hope. Book clubs will have very interesting discussions after reading Caleb’s story, and young adults, in particular, will relate to the human/dog bond. Anyone who enjoys a good story will love The Jewish Dog.
This review originally appeared in Jewish Book World.