Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca (Paperback)

Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca Cover Image


The New York Times bestselling author of Secret Service Dogs and Soldier Dogs delivers the incredible, true story of K-9 Marine hero Lucca, and the handlers who fought alongside her through two bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Maria Goodavage knocks it out of the park in this fast paced, spell binding page turner" --John W. Pilley, co-author of Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words

Maria Goodavage takes readers into the life of Lucca K458, a decorated and highly skilled military working dog. An extraordinary bond develops between Lucca and Marine Corps dog handlers Chris Willingham and Juan Rodriguez, in what would become a legendary 400-mission career. A specialized search dog, Lucca belongs to an elite group trained to work off-leash at long distances from her handler to sniff out deadly explosives. She served alongside both Special Forces and regular infantry, and became so sought-after that platoons frequently requested her by name.

Here, in gritty detail, is the gripping account of Lucca's adventures on and off the battlefields, including tense, lifesaving explosives finds and rooftop firefights, as well as the bravery of fellow handlers and dogs they served with. Ultimately we see how the bond between Lucca and her handlers overcame the endless brutalities of war and the traumas such violence can inflict.

Top Dog is a portrait of modern warfare with a heartwarming and inspiring conclusion that will touch dog lovers and the toughest military readers.

About the Author

Maria Goodavage is a veteran journalist and the New York Times bestselling author of Secret Service DogsTop Dog, and Soldier Dogs. She lives in San Francisco with her family and yellow Lab, Gus Kilroy.

Praise For…

"Maria Goodavage knocks it out of the park in this fast paced, spell binding page turner about Marine Gunner Sergeant Chris Willingham and his extraordinary canine partner “Mama” Lucca. Dog lovers are not the only audience that will find Willingham and Lucca’s relationship enviable while strumming heavily on their heartstrings. But make no mistake, this book is a hard look at what war is, what war does and how military dogs are a lifeline that flies under the radar. It is about human and non-human heroism defined by integrity, instinct, grit and luck of the draw. With little time to cement a trusting relationship, the military leans heavily on the unique social connection we share with dogs, as we witness soldier and canine bond together in ways that are critical to survival. The rub is that successful teamwork leaves these duo’s barbed wired together through trauma and then thrust back into a world where man and dog will never be able to un-see, un-do or coherently understand the meaning of what they have experienced. I am deeply grateful to Chris Willingham and Lucca for their selfless service, but also for showing us that inter-species respect and teamwork not only saves lives, it is the way of the future." —John W. Pilley, emeritus professor of psychology at Wofford College and best selling co-author of Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words 

“I have read nothing that so adroitly weaves together the relationship between our young warriors and man's best friend, from Iraq to Afghanistan and then coming home in body, mind and spirit.”—Marine General James Mattis (Ret.)

“A true war story with a heart as heroic and bold as any account ever told...It's a new classic, one that will inspire everyone.”—James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins

“I LOVED Top Dog. With a single glance into Lucca's soulful knowing eyes, you will fall in love. Heartwarming and heart-rending until its joyous conclusion, Maria Goodavage brilliantly renders the growing love and loyalty between Lucca and her handlers—a bond of such incredible strength it transcends war, distance, and time. Meet the amazing Lucca, and you will wish she was yours!”
—#1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Crais 

“An eye-opening account of the job these intelligent dogs and their courageous handlers do...[a] riveting title that is filled with excitement and heartbreak.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“An absolutely fascinating and an accurate portrayal of the importance of military working dogs and their handlers on today's complex battlefield.”—Army Lieutenant General Rick Lynch (Ret.)

“A masterfully told epic of one of the canine heroes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I doubt many readers will finish the book with a dry eye—this veteran of 28 months in Iraq, for one, could not. Semper Fi, Lucca.”—Col. (Ret.) Peter Mansoor, author of Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War

“Written like an adventure, with heart-pounding combat sequences, high tension, and suspense as well as moments of deep emotion and bonding, Top Dog is a must read for anyone who appreciates heroes of both the two-legged and four-legged kind.”—Stanley Coren, author of The Intelligence of Dogs, How to Speak Dog, and others
Product Details
ISBN: 9780451467102
ISBN-10: 0451467108
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Pages: 320
Language: English