Onward: A Dog's Odyssey is based on a true story. It combines a charming narrative of the life experiences of Rosy, a loyal Akita, and beloved family pet, with a subtle commentary on human society and the animal world today. Rosy is a proud Akita with a stubborn streak and strong principles. The narrative uses simple language that contrasts with the complex issues Rosy grapples with as she embarks on her life's adventures. To her, life is like a chicken. It can be served in so many ways, and there is just no point worrying about what will be on the menu. It's all good.
Rosy is uprooted from her native Japan and endures a long journey from Japan to Beijing, China, after the 2008 Olympics games. There, she is adopted by a Chinese American family. Rosy is proud of her Akita heritage and lives her life according to strict tenets that are shared with the reader as the story progresses.
After a short puppyhood in urban Beijing, where Rosy indulges her love of chicken and enjoys walks in the historic city of Beijing, she finds herself the proud mother of six strong Akita puppies. Rosy's motherhood is conveyed through poignant and sometimes sad anecdotes, including having to say goodbye to all but one of her beautiful Akita puppies. Lucky is the most fragile of the young puppies, and for that reason is selected by Rosy's family to remain with them as an additional family pet.
Rosy later moves with her family from Beijing to California in the United States. Rosy and her daughter Lucky's journey by plane were challenging, and Rosy and Lucky are weak shadows of their former selves when they arrive in San Francisco. Initially, they miss Asia, but the sight of an all-American Thanksgiving feast and the most gigantic chicken they have ever seen helps them adapt to American culture.
The book also provides scenic accounts of Rosy and Lucky's travels to Inner Mongolia in Asia, where they dream of running forever over the expansive wilderness. Later, the dogs travel from San Francisco up and down the west coast, passing through beautiful wineries, through the dangerous California wildfires, and up to the Seattle bridges. There, they watch salmon jumping the locks and experience the hustle and bustle, sights, sounds, and smells of Seattle's fish markets.
The book introduces colorful and appealing family members—Milly the Maltese, Whisky the Tabby, and the regal Genie, an Asian Leopard cat—who all have their own challenges and personalities.
The book closes with Rosy having aged and accepting the effects of time on her tired body. With the help of the smart robotic dog Felix, Rosy passes her "torch" on to the new generation of family dog Milly, and willingly yet sadly commits herself to the Comfort Room where she finds peace and, of course, unlimited chicken.
The book will tug at the heartstrings of readers while also drawing attention to current ills affecting society today. This is an easy read that should appeal to animal lovers of any age, background, and political leaning.