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.”
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About the Author
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.
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 himwith 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?