Clearly it’s not just cats that have nine lives. In Robert Weintraub’s exceptionally well researched and engaging No Better Friend, we meet Judy, a purebred English pointer and hero of World War II.
Born in Shanghai in 1936, Judy was adopted as a mascot by the British Royal Navy and had already survived a ship’s sinking and a jungle march before encountering 23-year-old Royal Air Force technician Frank Williams. The two met in 1942 in a Japanese POW camp in Sumatra. After another prisoner who’d been slipping scraps to Judy died, Williams made a life-changing decision: He gave the dog his entire ration, beginning an inspiring partnership.
To protect Judy from being killed and eaten by guards, Frank convinced the camp commander to give the pointer official POW status. That paper was to save Judy’s life more than once.
Through luck, gumption and sheer force of will, Frank managed to keep himself and his dog alive in camp, on a harrowing march and even after a torpedo attack on a prisoner transport ship. And as for regulations that no animals would be allowed on the troopship returning survivors to England when the war ended, well, you can just imagine what this remarkable pair of friends did about that.
No Better Friend is an inspiring story, and one that both dog lovers and history buffs will embrace.