I must admit, this is the first novel by Ross Welford that I’ve read. It won’t be the last. Actually, the reason this book caught my eye was the “dog” in the title. And this dog, Mr. Mash, is the epitome of dogly dogs. He smells awful from nose (his rank breath) to tail (the gas he emits is constant and horrifying in its ability to spew outward). But he is also the epitome of dogs because he loves everyone, especially main character Georgie.
It’s Georgie and her best friend Ramzy who save the world, and Mashie definitely does his part. Georgie has desperately wanted a dog forever, but when she finally is allowed to adopt Mashie from the local shelter, her father’s girlfriend is allergic to him, so they can’t keep him. Georgie volunteers for the shelter so that she can keep seeing Mashie.
The characters are diverse and engaging. Georgie loves dogs and is loyal to Ramzy. They are both ignored by many at school, so the two of them do everything together. Ramzy is from a country that no longer exists. We understand that it’s a Middle Eastern country, and we learn that while his family was comfortable there, in the UK, they are barely subsisting. Welford doesn’t just say it, he shows it as we read about Ramzy wearing his school uniform even on a day when it’s not required. And there are other subtle clues that the family simply doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to provide the basic necessities. Georgie and Ramzy make a good team because Ramzy is able to think quickly when Georgie stumbles. Dr. Emilia Pretorius, the woman who swims daily on the beach, and whose swim cap Mashie eats, is another diverse character. She has dark skin, a white afro, and piercing blue eyes. She is also eccentric and brilliant, and we learn that she pioneered virtual reality for Disney. She also seems to be extremely wealthy. It’s this strange, quirky inventor who entices Georgie and Ramzy to help her with her newest invention, a huge experiment in virtual reality.
Then there’s Mashie. In addition to the smells that emanate from various parts of his body, he will eat anything. Spoiler alert: This is just one of the ways in which he helps save the world.
The action moves quickly, and the plot is carefully thought out. Georgie is, in a way, responsible for the spread of the deadly virus, a canine-type Ebola, that ends up spreading across the world. (Uncomfortable in retrospect is that the carrier of the virus got it in China. This was written before COVID-19, so it’s obviously unintentional, but still a bit unsettling.) Of course it’s Georgie and Ramzy who figure out how Dr. Pretorius’s big experiment, a virtual reality of the future, might just save the world.
But if it were easy, this wouldn’t be a novel with the thrilling action and daring escapades that fill the pages. And, ultimately, it is indeed Mr. Mash, sweet Mashie, who is “The Dog Who Saved the World.”
Don’t miss the short but sweet trailer. And after finishing “The Dog Who Saved the World,” I’ll be reading “What Not to Do if You Turn Invisible” and “The 1,000 Year Old Boy” quite soon. Watch here for reviews!
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Schwartz & Wade Books, the publisher, for review purposes.