The Man Who Talks to Dogs

The Story of America's Wild Street Dogs and Their Unlikely Savior

Melinda Roth; Preface by Tony La Russa; Foreword by Michael W. Fox

Thomas Dunne Books

Go to any unpopulated or abandoned area in any given urban setting, and you'll find them. Thousands and thousands of wild dogs-abandoned to disease, starvation, and inevitable death-are leading short and brutal lives in the no-man's-land between domestication and wildness, byproducts of the human destitution around them. A lucky few are saved by dedicated rescuers, and Randy Grim, has emerged as one of the country's leading dog saviors. After years of rescuing dogs on his own, he founded Stray Rescue of St. Louis, an organization dedicated to rescue and rehabilitation.

These are dogs that belong to no one, the ones animal-control experts can't catch and humane shelters won't deal with. They are stray or feral, either abandoned or born wild on the streets, which means they won't come near humans and statistically won't live past their second year. And their numbers are growing every day.

In The Man Who Talks to Dogs, journalist Melinda Roth narrates Grim's dramatic, inspiring efforts and tells the horrific and heartwarming stories of the dogs he saves, showing how this growing national health problem-controlled by no federal or local regulations-can no longer be ignored.


Read an Excerpt

Man Who Talks to Dogs, The
Part OneChapter OneThe First: NoelThe blizzard barreled down on the dark city at fifty miles per hour, and as the wind whipped power lines in the air like jump ropes and sent empty shopping carts racing with loose debris down the curb, ice pellets slammed up against the side of the ancient, unheated lime-green Volkswagen bus that crawled down Chouteau Street doing ten.Inside the bus, Randy Grim gripped the steering wheel and repeated after the voice on his stress-management tape:"FEAR IS INSTINCTUAL.""Fear is instinctual.""FEAR IS AN ILLUSION.""Fear is an illusion


Praise for The Man Who Talks to Dogs

"An unforgettable and honest literary portrait of an unlikely hero." --San Francisco Chronicle

"A touching . . . portrait of a young man who has devoted his life to rescuing the street dogs of St. Louis, and a harrowing report on the plight of the millions of abandoned and stray dogs throughout the United States." --The Atlantic Monthly

“A deeply affecting portrait. Roth's poignant volume is an inspiring reminder that one person can make a difference.”--Seattle Times (2/23/03)

"The Man Who Talks to Dogs pulls back the heavy, shame-laced curtain on one of America's most heart-wrenching secrets: the horrific plight of millions upon millions of neglected, abused, and abandoned innocent animals and their struggle to survive against all odds. After reading Randy Grim's inspirational account of saving lives-one dog at a time-you will never again ask yourself whether one person can make a difference. By turns tragic and heartrending to triumphant and inspirational, this book will forever change the way you look at stray dogs." --Dan Dye, cofounder of Three Dog Bakery and coauthor of Amazing Gracie

"Randy Grim's reluctant, unlikely heroism saves more than just the abandoned dogs of his community: it should rescue all of us from those self-important hurdles and lame exemptions that keep us from being the compassionate people we mean to be."
--Michael J. Rosen, editor of Dog People and Company of Dogs

"The Man Who Talks to Dogs brings Randy Grim's lifesaving efforts to life, giving readers a sense of the urgency of his rescues, of the sorrow of seeing man's best friend abandoned to the harshest of conditions, and of the incredible ability of animals to teach humankind compassion. It provides a moving testimony to the depths of the human-animal bond and, more important, it calls each of us to become involved in this crucial endeavor."
--Richard Avanzino, President, Maddie's Fund

"With an unblinking eye, Melinda Roth shows us how Randy Grim fights his own inner demons in order to make the world a safer, better place for the strays of St. Louis. One determined man can make a difference. This is a powerful lesson for us all."
--Faith Maloney, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

"A fascinating book. It addresses the serious and neglected problem of feral dogs in our country. It also does a marvelous job of showing how each one of us can make a difference."
-Jean S. Greek, DVM, DACVD, coauthor of Sacred Cows and Golden Geese

[Grim's] courageous willingness to descend into the depths of animal-abuse hell and to emerge with survivors in his arms is a living testimony to the eternal truth that one person can make an enormous difference." -Michael Tobias, Ecologist, Filmaker, and Author

“With warmth, intelligence and lyrical detail, [Roth] shows us how Grim manages the stray rescues he’s now famous for.” --The Bark

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Melinda Roth; Preface by Tony La Russa; Foreword by Michael W. Fox

  • Melinda Roth has worked as a state political correspondent and feature writer for the St. Louis Riverfront Times and as the education reporter for the Edwardsville Intelligencer. Raised in the Chicagoland area, she has three children and two rescued dogs.


Available Formats and Book Details

The Man Who Talks to Dogs

The Story of America's Wild Street Dogs and Their Unlikely Savior

Melinda Roth; Preface by Tony La Russa; Foreword by Michael W. Fox



Thomas Dunne Books