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One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Helmand - An Inspiring True Story

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  957 ratings  ·  82 reviews
In a remote outpost of Now Zad, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, Pen Farthing and his troop of young Royal Marines survive frequent engagements with the Taliban and forge links with the local community. Pen's tour of duty will change his life forever, but for entirely unexpected reasons ...

Appalled by the horrors of a local dog fight, he intervenes to free the victi
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published 2009
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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Eva Marie
I've been pondering what makes a hero while reading this book. We hear about ball players and rappers and the like being heros. A lot of them do good, I know, but does that make them a hero? In my eyes it doesn't.
I want my daughter to look up to Pen Farthing. I want him, and others like him, to be her heros. It doesn't matter what side of the war you're on, whether you believe troops should be activated or not, aside from the military standpoint totally, Farthing is still a hero in my eyes.
Christopher Rex
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
The story gets 5-stars, the writing gets 3-stars. If there is anything worth saving in Afghanistan, it is the dogs. The British Marine who authored this book tries to do just that. Amidst the boredom, chaos and utter uselessness of our mission in Afghanistan he becomes an unlikely hero to abused, mistreated and suffering stray dogs who randomly wander into his life. He can't save them all, but the dogs seem to give him some purpose for his being there and he soon begins a mission to save at leas ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I put off reading this book as I knew it would take me on an emotional rollercoaster. I have seen the Dog charity Nowzad advertised in Dog magazines asking for help to rescue the dogs in Afganistan, this is the story of how this charity came to be. A British soldier is sent to Fight he leaves his loving wife behind and his 2 dogs, This is also the story of the situation our troops find themselves in, a no win situation, the people of Afganistan need help but are scared to accept foreign help as ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Books that make you literally weep into their pages uncontrollably. Yeah, this is that kind of book. There was one moment I completely lost it, and I'm sure when you read this book you'll see what I mean. I was so invested in this story that it sneaked up on me unexpectedly.

I've read many animal books, as you might know if you follow my reviews. I've even read animal books about Afghanistan and other war torn countries. But this book was special. It was so personal, so improbable. A dog so many
Where oh where was this man's editor? This is such a cool story, but the writing is so painful it was hard to get through. The tone is clearly targeted at a young audience, and yet there's so much military jargon tossed in, and so little overall description, it could still be hard to follow exactly what was happening at times. There's some really interesting insights into the day to day life of a British marine in Afghanistan, along with some particularly sharp cultural contrasts in perception o ...more
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What I learned from this book? Well I learned a lot more about the problems facing the people of Afghanistan, a little more about their culture, a lot more about what our troops in Afghanistan face on an almost daily basis, and a great deal about our love for dogs and the lengths we will go to to help them. This book made me smile, it made me angry and it also made me cry.
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This man is a hero in the true sense of the word. He sacrifices his own comfort and material assets in order to make the world a better place for both animals and people.
The book is written without a hint of ego and is interesting and emotional because of his description of life as a soldier in Afghanistan as well as his attempts to improve relations and conditions there. I salute him.
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who knows me, they already know that I am going to love this book because it has dogs!
I have great respect for our military, for all military because Pen is from overseas, and I know we would not be where we are today without the men and women who serve. But Pen shows a more humane side to his time in Afghanistan when he shares his story about saving stray dogs while he served there. After reading this you feel as though you know each of the dogs because of the detail he describes the
M.L. Sparrow
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This is a very touching true story and I applaud Pen Farthing for his amazing efforts to save these dogs. As is mentioned in some reviews of this book, the writing style is very simple but that didn't bother me, I wasn't expecting a work of great poetry when I brought this book. I was expecting an uplifting story about saving dogs, which is what I got, although there were definitely some sad parts in this book and it broke
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those books you know you will be touched by and crying and yet you read it... I know it's not much of a review but I think I am to upset to write anything else now. Wonderful man and his friends with big hearts and compassion, trying to help dogs in almost impossible to provide any help circumstances... The world needs more Farthings! ...more
Kathy Collins
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting story incorporating how life for the British troops in Afghanistan worked while incorporating the dog rescue efforts of one soldier, the author of this book. I found it both interesting and informative.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I rarely am emotionally moved to tears by a book. I can't remember the last time I had to stop just to collect myself. This story is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming. God Bless you Sgt Farthing, the love and compassion you hold in your heart is only surpassed by the bravery of your spirit. ...more
Janit Jones
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is my new favorite book. I can't count the number of times I hugged it to my chest and whispered "I love you" to it. It's heart breaking but also inspiring. Pen Farthing is an incredible person for everything he has done. ...more
Susan Palmer
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, an English marine trying to save dogs while on duty in Afghanistan. Iinteresting combination of combat, duty and off time, and how his interaction with the dogs changed his life. Engrossing read.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Both a fascinating description of what it was like to be deployed in Helmand and how British Servicemen react to the conditions and also a heartwarming tale of animal rescue.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
What an emotional and wonderful journey.
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Heartwarming Dog Stories; War Stories
Recommended to Julianna by: GoodReads
Reviewed for THC Reviews
"4.5 stars" One Dog at a Time is part war story, part dog story that is by turns both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The author was a Royal Marine deployed to a remote village in Afghanistan. He is obviously a dog lover, but he didn't set out to become a caretaker for the strays of Afghanistan. They simply found and befriended him along the way. In many ways, I think that caring for the dogs became something of an escape for Pen (and many other soldiers and marines on th
Shazza Maddog
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lis Carey
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pen Farthing is a British marine and a dog lover who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. He quickly discovered that the dogs of Afghanistan were in as much need of help as the people, and had less ability to fend for themselves. It starts with rescuing one abused dog from ANP (Afghan National Police) officers who plan to use him in a dog fight. Then he breaks up an actual dog fight and allows the two dogs to escape, much to the annoyance of the ANP and AFA (Afghan National Army) participants an ...more
Aug 20, 2010 rated it liked it
About: While serving for the Royal Marines in Afghanistan, the author intervenes when he comes upon the scene of a local dog fight. One of the freed dogs finds his way into the Marine compound where Farthing is staying and eventually so do several other strays. Farthing, with a soft spot for dogs, can't resist caring for them, some of whom are pregnant, and as his tour of duty comes to an end he enlists his wife's help to rescue them.

Did you know...that dogfighting, a centuries-old tradition, is
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading Saving Cinnamon. This book is not just another rescue dog/American soldier story. It is its own unique story because this dog gets lost on her way home to be with the soldier and his wife who have adopted her. The author of this book is the sister of the soldier who rescued Cinnamon. He had made previous arrangements to bring her home safely from Afghanistan but a dog handler failed this poor dog and he failed this soldier, too.

I am wondering ho
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last of my dog-books (real physical books) that I bought last year in a sudden dog-frenzy. Finally got around to reading this.

This book was a lot easier to read, compared to From Baghdad, With Love.

I guess these books are pretty standard. Soldier gets posted in the middle of war-torn nowhere. Soldier befriends dog, or dog befriends soldier. Mutual good feelings. Soldier can't think of abandoning dog.

This is basically the whole premise of this book.

Only that, there's more to this basi
Misty Melsheimer
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dogs, non-fiction, memoir
While this book may not win any awards for literary style, it could easily win an award based on heart. What a lovely, heartwarming (& equally heart wrenching) memoir. I was anxious throughout the reading, wondering what would happen to these poor creatures. Even knowing at the outset of the book that Pen founded a charity for dogs in Afghanistan, I couldn’t help but worry about the fates of these delightful 4 legged pals of his. Rescuing these dogs seemed such an impossible task, and with the a ...more
I so wanted to read this book for such a long time...I lost the title once and then I found it again to realised then it did even had a second book [which I am starting to read straight away] and I have to say it didn't disappoint me! Yes, it is about dogs, very much in need dogs and it will require a lot of love and understanding for our incredible canine friends but it is also about Mr Farthing and his Kilo Company journey in a ravaged and war affected and alien land. It is Pen Farthing incred ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it liked it
One Dog at a Time is an incredible true story. It’s sometimes surprising as there are surely bigger problems than stray dogs that are forced to fight but at least Pen Farthing and the other soldiers can do something for the dogs, while differing cultures, the short amount of time troops are stationed in the area and the Taliban often stop them helping the people of Afghanistan.

As well as Pen’s encounters with different dogs you also get to see what the everyday life of the military in a remote o
Sam Herbert
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm really conflicted about this book. I bought it because, as a dog-mad person, I knew I would love the story. It's about a marine serving in Afghanistan who looks after the stray dogs in his compound and tries with all his might to get them to a rescue centre, despite all the pitfalls that inevitably come with it. But the book is quite badly written, and it failed to hook me, which is why it took me so long to finish it. I was determined to push on, and when I reached the end, I weeped into th ...more
Sammi McSporran
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This is a wonderful book. Truly heartwarming and inspiring, Pen's story is one that will touch your soul.
As a fellow dog lover, and an animal rescue worker myself, this book really struck a chord with me. It really demonstrates so clearly the reason we work so hard to save animals, and the ups and downs of the rollercoaster ride that can be getting an animal to a happy home. I smiled, I cried, I still feel worried and wonder about the dogs of Helmand that couldnt be saved, but also happy that Pe
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book (One Dog At A Time) By Pen Farthing covers a time period of 20-24 years. Something significant about Pen in this time period is that he goes to war, and rescues dogs. Some exciting events are when Pen helps rescue a dog and her pups from die in a drain, and when an enemy mortar lands in the compound that starts a big fight, and the last event is when he rescues a dog named NowZad from a dogfight. I felt that there was some info that needed to be in the book that could of made it better ...more
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs
I am so glad that Pen Farthing wrote this book! I hope that those who read it, like me, are inspired to help these dogs (and other animals). There are moments of love, trust and bonding that are so touching and heartfelt among moments of sadness, despair and anger. These soldiers who bond with and sacrifice so much to help these poor souls are heroes. These dogs are also heroes, providing these soldiers with some comfort while fighting for all of us.
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book accurately portrays the sad situation in Afghanistan. The story is told well and realistically, and shows parts of the war in Afghanistan with parts of the war being both tedious and dangerous. It is a heartwarming and sad tale for the poor people and animals of that country. It is good to know there are still people who despite all the world's troubles, still care for the lesser animals of the earth. ...more
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