How a dog helped heal a Holocaust survivor’s heart.
This is the summary of Trusting Calvin, the true story of a man who survived one of the most horrendous times in human history, The Holocaust, and the dog who helped to unlock his heart. Written by Sharon Peters, the former “Pet Talk” columnist for USA Today, weaves a tale of love, hope, celebration, and ultimately being able to carry the weight of the past into the promise of the future— with a dog walking alongside.
As a teenager, Max Edelman was hauled off to one of the worst Nazi work camps, where he survived by keeping quiet and mounting an invisible emotional shield. He was beaten to blindness by two sadistic Nazi guards and carries his lack of vision long past his freedom from the concentration camp. At a time when very few survived, especially at the hand of such human terror and abuse, Edelman moved to America and began a new life.
“One morning he ordered the barracks where the sick were recovering emptied. Dozens hobbled, as ordered, to the edge of the ditch, and were shot, one by one,” Peters writes. “This was much more efficient than having to haul corpses across the yard when men died in their beds.”
The words are haunting, incomprehensible, yet coupled with a sense of hope and a stoic emotional barrier, Edelman somehow survived. He married, raised two sons, and became an x-ray processor at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. When the Holocaust survivor retired, his wife became afflicted with severe arthritis. He was no longer able to get around on his own without the assistance of his devoted wife. Edelman swallowed his pride, fear of dogs, and applied for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
It is the relationship with his guide dog, Calvin, that tugs at the heartstrings of dog lovers. The relationship does not immediately take shape; in fact, it is tarnished and made more difficult by Edelman’s fear of dogs in general. It becomes apparent that Calvin senses Max’s lack of trust and the relationship falters.
“Max, never able to reach out for comfort from others, didn’t want people around. His sons, brothers, and friends tried to abide by that wish, and they mostly kept the distance he demanded,” Peters pens.
One can imagine the leap of faith and the hesitancy of doubt that Edelman must have faced when expected to trust in a dog: he is without sight and his vision is blurred further by memories of a haunting past that leaves scars on the very soul of his being.
Trusting Calvin is 181 pages of a life that is nearly broken, slowly reassembled, and then placed into the ever-loving trust of a dog. Max Edelman is a survivor, and his trust into a canine companion is the heartbeat of this tale. Peters is a gifted writer who weaves emotion and fact into a story that could easily have been lost in translation if written by another.
In honor of April 8th being Holocaust Remembrance Day, Fidose of Reality salutes Max Edelman and Calvin and thanks Sharon Peters for bringing this story to life.
Winner of a copy of the book is Mimi Johnson! Congrats to you and thanks to all who entered. Highly recommended book!
We’d like to give a copy of this book away to one Fidose of Reality fan. Simply reply in the comments below and let us know the name of a dog that has had an impact on your life. We’ll select one winner on April 13, 2013. Contest opens now and closes at 11:59 pm on Friday, 04/12/13. U.S. and Canadian residents age 18 and over are eligible.