War hero Lucca is a cover girl!
War hero Lucca is a cover girl!

Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca
Coming October 23, 2014!

(a) riveting title that is filled with excitement and heartbreak.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“…a new classic, one that will inspire everyone.”
—James Rollins, New York Times best selling author

“A masterfully told epic.”
—Army Colonel Peter Mansoor (Ret.), chair of military history at the Ohio State University, and author of Surge

“I have read nothing that so adroitly weaves together the relationship between our young warriors and man’s best friend, from Iraq to Afghanistan and then coming home in body, mind and spirit. If I could write half so well and capture the essence of things largely left unspoken, I would write letters to God!”
—Marine General James Mattis (Ret.)

In 2012, former USA Today journalist Maria Goodavage landed on the New York Times Best Seller list with the release of Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America’s Canine Heroes (Dutton/Penguin). This unprecedented exploration of the world of military working dogs and their handlers was filled with gritty details of the lives of canine warriors and examined the ongoing special role that these dogs play in our ever-changing field of combat.

Now Goodavage is back with a heartwarming and heroic real-life story about one particularly incredible canine in Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca (Dutton/Penguin). With detailed and captivating reporting, a heart-rending portrayal of the deep bond between dog and handler, and edge-of-seat scenes of combat, Top Dog earns a place among the exciting true war stories of our day.

In Top Dog, Goodavage takes readers into the life of Lucca K458, a decorated and highly skilled military working dog. An extraordinary bond develops between Lucca and Marine Corps dog handlers Chris Willingham and Juan Rodriguez, in what would become a legendary 400-mission career through two bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A specialized search dog, Lucca belongs to an elite group trained to work off-leash at long distances from her handler. She served alongside both Special Forces and regular infantry, and became so sought-after that platoons frequently requested her by name.

Top Dog vividly depicts Lucca’s adventures on and off the battlefields, including tense, lifesaving explosives finds and firefights, as well as the bravery of fellow handlers and dogs they served with. Ultimately we see how the bond between Lucca and her handlers overcame the endless brutalities of war and the traumas this violence ignites. Here is a portrait of modern warfare with a heartwarming and inspiring conclusion that will touch dog lovers and the toughest military readers.