Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish

Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish

by Mark R. Levin


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From the New York Times bestselling radio personality Mark Levin and his family comes the true story of the two years of joy and anguish they had with a rescue dog named Sprite.

Mark Levin, while known as a lawyer and nationally syndicated broadcaster, considers himself first and foremost a dog lover. In 2004, Mark’s family added a new member to their bunch—a beautiful, Spaniel-mixed dog they named Sprite. With his beautiful face and soft, huggable fur, Sprite immediately bonded with the Levin family.

But on Halloween night, just three weeks after being adopted, Sprite collapsed and had to be rushed to the animal hospital in what would turn out to be the first of many such visits—and a difficult, heart-wrenching journey for the entire family.

Over the next two years, Sprite’s health deteriorated, but his spirit remained high and his beauty and grace continued to inspire, until the holiday season of 2006, when the Levin family had to say a final goodbye to their beloved pet. Rescuing Sprite is a stunningly intimate revelation of the strong love that can develop between a family and a pet, and the realization, as Mark Levin puts it, that “in the end, we humans are the lucky ones.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439165430
Publisher: Threshold Editions
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 94,502
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Mark R. Levin, nationally syndicated talk-radio host, host of LevinTV, chairman of Landmark Legal Foundation, and the host of the FOX News show Life, Liberty, & Levin, is the author of six consecutive New York Times #1 bestsellers: Liberty and Tyranny, Plunder and Deceit, Rediscovering Americanism, Ameritopia, The Liberty Amendments, and Unfreedom of the Press. Liberty and Tyranny spent three months at #1 and sold more than 1.5 million copies. His books Men in Black and Rescuing Sprite were also New York Times bestsellers. Levin is an inductee of the National Radio Hall of Fame and was a top adviser to several members of President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet. He holds a BA from Temple University and a JD from Temple University Law School.

Read an Excerpt


Who would have thought I'd write a book about a dog named Sprite? Well, actually, about a dog named Pepsi,too, and another one named Griffen.

Every dog lover has a dog story. This is mine.

For most of my life, my passions have involved big goals and big thoughts. I've spent my career as a lawyer and broadcaster working on constitutional issues, writing about public policy, and talking about current events. I've served at the highest levels of our government, and I've even written a book about the Supreme Court. So why write this book? Because I am, fi rst and foremost, a dog lover. Few things in life have given me the kind of joy and, frankly, sorrow, as my relationships with my dogs. And this is especially so with an older dog we rescued from a local shelter.

We called him Sprite.

Sprite was found one day roaming the streets of Silver Spring, Maryland. We believe he lost his original family — or they lost him. He was taken to a local shelter and later handed over to foster parents while awaiting a family to adopt him. We were lucky to be that family.

Sprite was so beautiful. He had big brown eyes and the softest fur I'd ever touched. As we soon learned, Sprite also suffered from serious and ultimately debilitating health problems, but he never let any of it get him down. Despite life's curveballs, he was a dignifi ed, graceful, and courageous dog. He was friendly to all, humans and canines alike.

Sprite touched me in ways I could never have expected. He taught me to better appreciate the simple and more important things in life. He quickly became an irreplaceable member of our family and a fixture in the neighborhood. Even with all his setbacks, Sprite was full of life. He appreciated life. He cherished every moment, seeming to understand that his time left on earth would be too brief.

I loved this dog. Writing this book was both painful and cathartic for me. Reading it may be emotional for you. I hope it brings you some smiles. I know it will bring you some tears. I hope, when you're done, that you are moved to hold your dog closer in your arms — or in your memories.

Table of Contents

Introduction     9
Let's Call Him Pepsi     13
With Pepsi at My Side     32
Rescuing Sprite     42
A Frightening Halloween     57
Inseparable from the Start     66
Dinner with Pepsi and Sprite     84
There Is No Forever     93
A Hard Fall     108
Thanksgiving Prayers     123
A Desperate Search     142
Good-bye My Beloved Sprite     159
Dark Days     173
The Memory Tree     194
Griffen     211
The Spirit of Sprite     217
Acknowledgments     223

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Rescuing Sprite includes an introduction and discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Although Mark Levin is known as a lawyer and a nationally syndicated broadcaster, he is, first and foremost, a dog lover.

In 1998, he and his family welcomed into their lives a half-Border Collie/half-Cocker Spaniel they named Pepsi. Six years later, his wife and son persuaded him to adopt a 3- to 6-year-old Spaniel mix, the most beautiful dog they'd ever seen. They named him Sprite.

Sprite bonded with Pepsi and the Levin family, and they fell in love with him—with his gentle nature, his beautiful face and his soft, huggable fur.

But on Halloween night, three weeks after joining their family, Sprite collapsed and had to be rushed to the animal hospital. It was the first of many such visits and a long journey for the Levin family, filled with joy and anguish.

Throughout the next two years, Sprite's bond with the Levin family deepened, as it did with their friends and neighbors. A relationship also developed with Mark's radio audience. As Mark's daughter turned 18 and graduated from high school and Mark's son turned 15, Sprite's health deteriorated, even as his spirits remained high and his beauty and grace continued to inspire.

Comfort came from family and fans and friends, including Mark's fellow radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. And between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2006, the Levin family said their final goodbye.

Rescuing Sprite
is a stunningly intimate look at the love between a family and a dog, one that movingly shows, in Mark Levin's words, that "in the end, we humans are the lucky ones."

Questions for Discussion

1. Pepsi comforts Mark immensely after his heart problems, and Mark credits the dog for helping him to recover. Years later, the situation is reversed when Mark and his family must help their other dog, Sprite, through his health issues. How is the emotional support that a person gives a dog different from the support a dog gives a person?

2. Do you blame Mark and Kendall for avoiding the talk about end-of-life care for Sprite for so long? Do you think it would have helped them deal with the situation more if they had talked about it openly?

3. Why does talking with Rush about Sprite’s failing health make Mark reevaluate his life, his accomplishments, his religion?

4. On page 112, Mark says, “I had also lost people and animals I loved before, but this was different.” Why was facing Sprite’s mortality so different than Mark’s previous experiences with death?

5. Do you think it was wrong for Mark hold back Sprite’s deteriorating condition from Lauren when they were in the Bahamas? Would you have done the same thing?

6. After Sprite’s death, Mark is overwhelmed with depression and guilt for months. He feels that there must have been something he could have done to save the dog, and wishes he had further pursued the MRI when Sprite had collapses on Halloween. Are regret and guilt inevitable when one is faced with an extraordinary loss?

7. Mark and Kendall lied to Lauren when she had asked how Sprite was doing, and only told her what had happened when she returned home. Was it wrong for them to lie to her, especially since her brother knew the truth, or was it appropriate to wait until they could tell her in person?

Customer Reviews

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Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 118 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story of how a person can get so attached to their dog. They become part of their family. It was heart wrenching at times but it shows the emotions that a true animal and dog lover goes through. Very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is inspiring and a loving tribute to Mark Levin's animal companions. He is an advocate of rescue animals, and states their case with heart. I recommend this book very highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that rescuing sprite was a very good book. I know how it is to loose a dog. Mark Levin builds up suspense and is a very good writer. Yes i did cry but it was all in all it was a great book. I love animals and i am especially a big dog lover.Those of you who have lost one of your dogs i highly recomend this book it will help you cherish everything that you have been through with your dog-good and bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can relate so well to this book. I really fell in love with the animals as well. This is truly a touching story. I so respect this family for adopting the "older" dogs that honestly wouldn't have a chance.
PRBooker68 More than 1 year ago
There are so many animal-lover books out there it's hard to know which one to choose. Mark Levin's book is easier to notice because he's an "out there" personality and we know him. That said, it is indeed a lovely book about a family and their dear dog, Sprite and one that I would recommend along with the following: "My Name is Henley: my life and times as a rescued dog" by Judith Kristen. "A Dog's Life" by Ann Martin. Both are very different from Mark's book, but all will strike a positive note in the hearts of dog lovers everywhere.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed every moment of Mark's book about Sprite, Pepsi and family. Mark was able to fully capture the feelings expressed during the short but wonderful time with his special doggie. I took 1 day to read and finish the book and 1 box of tissues! For anyone who has loved a dog 'or pet' and has lost their best friend, this is the book for you. Thank you Mark for getting your story down on paper. Very difficult to do after losing somebody close. Sprite will live on and on through this book and not to mention the tree.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My time is so limited and the books I choose to read are usually recommended by friends. 'Rescuing Sprite' was a book I enjoyed, but I feel there was a lot more we dog lovers were so longing to hear!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very beautifully written. A great read. A real tear jerker. Great ,Great
reading4funMN More than 1 year ago
Every animal lover needs to read this book. Mark Levin has told a story of love for an animal that anyone who has ever had a pet understands. This book is heart warming and brought back memories of the pets I had growing up and how much they meant to me. Levin truly gets the unconditional love an animal gives and how much the pet gives to it's family. A must read for everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it one rainy Saturday afternoon. Loved every word of it. Highly recommend - would make a perfect gift for the dog-lovers in your life. (Might want to keep the Kleenex handy when you're reading it... )
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband got this book for his birthday a few days ago and told me I should read it. He said it would change the way I think of dogs. Before I read this book I never understood how someone could be so attached to an animal, but after reading this it makes me realize what unconditional love a dog can give to a family. I have totally changed my way of thinking. It made me laugh and cry at times and now I know that we will find a dog to complete our family the way Sprite and Pepsi have for the Levins! Great fast read and I highly recommend it to everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who would have guessed that this tenacious radio talk-show host had a heart this big and beautiful!? What a wonderful, wonderful surprise of a book. Whoever lost Sprite in the first place really lost a treasure of a pet, but the fact that Mark and his family rescued the dog is truly amazing. The love Sprite brought to them, and the love they all gave to him, is amazing. And now their two short years together are immortalized forever in this sweet little book. Talk about divine providence. Hats off to animal shelters everywhere!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a day. I could not put it down. Make sure you have a box of kleenex with you, as you are bound to cry. What a great story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you've ever had a pet who has since passed away, you will identify with Levin's story. I know I did- it made me very emotional thinking of my past best friends. Read it and enjoy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rescuing Sprite is an emotional rollercoaster of tears and smiles, sharing with us the painfully short relationship between a dog rescued from an animal shelter, and a family that completely adored him. It is a story of love, compassion and the absolute loyalty found in the friendship of a dog. For anyone who has ever had a furry best friend, whether it be dog, cat, horse, rabbit, or any other pet, this book will touch your heart and remind you of why we are willing to suffer the incredible loss of their short lives, for just a few precious months or years of their presence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was extremely impressed with Rescuing Sprite! In my opinion, it is a must read book for any animal lover. I dare you not to shed a tear (or more) while reading this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good it hit close to home but its amazing any dog or animal lover should read this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grabs u beginning to end to sad to complet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Great and personal read that touches the heartstrings of all doglovers. God gives us friends, and sometimes in the form of animals, to accompany us through this walk of life. The love they give us teaches us how we are suppose to love others as well as ourselves. Thanks Mark for sharing your family and story with us. Prayers to you and your family. Many happy and loving days to come. When you have pets the days are joyous!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book . It was so sad at certain times. You have to get it!
Mikayla Barrett More than 1 year ago
I love this story and every story about animals------ especially horses.
Caitlynnn Hilverding More than 1 year ago
very good book i read aroud 3 times times and i am 12
RSC26 More than 1 year ago
Mark Levin captures to the pain and angst of losing man's best friend. Giving his families personal account of rescuing an abandoned dog (Sprite) only to lose him to the ravages of age and disease shortly thereafter. It's as if I knew Sprite and as such, felt the loss with the Levin family. You will love the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great story but sad
Mary-Claire More than 1 year ago
A sweet book about a man and his dog, and like any other dog book it is sad, but more than that it's inspiring, it's touching, it's love. Mark Levin knows how to pull a reader in, I felt like I knew Sprite and I could eaisly relate to his experience as a dog owner. This book is an easy and inspiring read, a great gift to any dog lover.