Craig found Fred the dog in Afghanistan and had him taken back to the US. Grossi suffers from PTSD and Fred is a very important part of his life. The two of them now travel America together, "spreading the message of stubborn positivity."
In this latest book, Grossi and Fred go inside Maine State Prison and meet the incarcerated men who live - and work - on the veteran unit. Here, they train Labrador Retrievers to be companions for disabled vets.
This type of training program is available in almost 300 prisons in 50 states. They provide a 'second chance' for the incarcerated trainer, as well as the veteran who will receive the dog. Maine State works with the non profit, America’s Vet Dogs.
We meet the the trainers as well as other vets who join Grossi's new writing group at the prison. We become privy to their stories as they share details of their lives and hopes for the future. I had not read the first book, but Grossi shares many details of his life and his service career in the military with the men. There were some startling revelations. I think the men were able to share with Grossi as he was a veteran and 'got' it. The benefits of both the writing group and the dog training went both ways. The sense of self worth, accomplishment, pride and hope are direct results for the men - and Grossi as well.
Details of the dog training process are presented as well and I found those interesting. At times, I did find the level of detail to be a bit overwhelming - detailed descriptions of rooms etc. that do set the stage but felt like filler.
I chose to the listen to the audio version of Second Chances. The author himself is the narrator. It's always a treat to hear an author read their work - they lived it and the emphasis, the emotion and more is just there. Grossi has a clear speaking voice and its pleasant to listen to. His speed of speaking is measured and precise, although a bit slow for me. I always find listening to a book immerses the reader more. I did enjoy Grossi's tale and hope that he continues to find healing and keeps sharing his 'stubborn positivity' message. I hope too that the incarcerated men we met have gone on to their second chance.