When twelve-year-old Penny Robbins' beloved father dies, her seventh-grade year is marked by sadness and pain. Her mother Janice and her close friends — Travis, Mandy, Brianna, Jana, and Elias — try to help her cope with the loss, but Penny keeps searching for something worthwhile in her life. She keeps searching for what she calls "the best." It seems like all the kids at school have a best: a best friend, a best parent, a best house or car, a best vacation, even a best pet. Penny thinks she might have found a perfect, best dog at a local shelter, but is utterly disappointed when her mother chooses a different dog. He is muddy looking, has a ragged ear, a crooked nose, and a wild tuft of hair that stands up from the middle of his large head. He certainly is not the best; in fact, Penny thinks he is the worst. How could this dog ever help her with anything troubling her? Never underestimate the love of a seemingly unlovable dog!