Catching Dawn: A Search for a Dog and the Discovery of Family

by Melissa Armstrong



What would you do to save a dog?

Night delivers a litter of eight puppies in a poor neighborhood in Springfield, Tennessee the week before Melissa Armstrong first meets her. As a volunteer for a local nonprofit, Melissa has experience with strays and plans to rescue Night and her litter within days. But nothing goes as planned. For the next six months, Melissa and a ragtag cast of characters try to trap the mutt with nets, catchpoles, spring traps, cheeseburgers, hot dogs stuffed with Benadryl, and the dog’s crying puppies. They fail so many times that Melissa is on the brink of giving up. But when she learns about the brutal way the local police department controls the overpopulation problem in Night’s neighborhood, she reaffirms her promise to a dog. She vows to rescue her, no matter the consequences.

Catching Dawn is a beautifully written story of how Night became Dawn, and of the other dogs who have brought joy and heartbreak, moments of transcendence and despair, and unconditional love to the author’s life. Catching Dawn is also a vividly told and thoughtful reflection on the many highs and lows of caring for animals and humans in difficult circumstances; a gritty exposé of the consequences of animal overpopulation in the rural South; and the story of how a homeless dog helps a woman move through personal grief and upheaval to rediscover the meaning of family.