Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

I was drawn to this book because I had read McDougall’s first book, Born to Run, about the Tarahumara Native Mexican tribe that lives in Mexico’s Copper Canyon and who are known for their ability to run hundreds of miles…in sandals.  After that amazing story, I had to find out what was so special about Running with Sherman
There are so many layers to this story; McDougall’s Amish neighbors in Pennsylvania, his goats, his friend’s son who is struggling with depression, his very caring wife, the people he meets along the way, the annual burro races in Colorado, and of course, Sherman.
McDougall learned of an “animal hoarder," who could barely feed his family, let alone his livestock.  As a result, his animals were grossly underfed and under cared for, but it was hard to convince the owner to let them go.  When Chris first saw the burro, Sherman, the animal was encrusted with dung and his hooves were so long, they curled at the ends and he could not walk.  (They have to be gradually sawed off with a hacksaw.)  McDougall hardly knew where to begin the rescue, until a knowledgeable equine friend told him that what Sherman needed most of all, aside from medical care, was a job, a purpose.  And when McDougall heard about the Colorado burro races, he thought he had found the purpose.  But, one of the biggest problems was to get Sherman to want to even leave the yard.  McDougall enlists his Amish and Mennonite neighbors to come up with a training plan.  And when he hears of Zeke, the son of a friend who had to drop out of college because of severe depression, Chris convinces him to help with the training.  Local running clubs get involved.  And a whole team of burros join Sherman, urging each other through their fears and through the obstacles of rough terrain.
As you might imagine, people who run races with their burros aren’t your “run-of-the-mill” normal human beings.  One of the joys of the book is the acceptance of all kinds of people meeting and helping one another.  I loved this book for the satisfying friendships and goodwill so absent around us these days.  Of course, it’s not a spoiler to say that Sherman successfully meets his purpose, pulling his humans along with his own recovery. "Human connections with animals" stories are always a winner in my book.

— From Karen L

November 2019 Indie Next List

Running With Sherman is one of those special books that just makes you happy. Sherman, an abused donkey adopted by Christopher McDougall and family, needs a task, and that task turns out to be joining the World Championship of burro running in Colorado. In his inimitably engaging style, McDougall has taken the best of his two previous books—the personal stories of Born to Run and the history from Natural Born Heroes—and created the most enjoyable book I’ve read this year. I laughed, I got teary, I smiled a lot. Sherman is my new hero!”
— Pete Mock, McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC


"A delight, full of heart and hijinks and humor . . . McDougall is a gifted storyteller who gets to the heart of the human-animal connection." --John Grogan, author of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog

From the best-selling author of Born to Run, a heartwarming story about training a rescue donkey to run one of the most challenging races in America, and, in the process, discovering the life-changing power of the human-animal connection.

When Chris McDougall agreed to take in a donkey from an animal hoarder, he thought it would be no harder than the rest of the adjustments he and his family had made after moving from Philadelphia to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country. But when he arrived, Sherman was in such bad shape he could barely move, and his hair was coming out in clumps. Chris decided to undertake a radical rehabilitation program designed not only to heal Sherman's body but to heal his mind as well. It turns out the best way to soothe a donkey is to give it a job, and so Chris decided to teach Sherman how to run. He'd heard about burro racing--a unique type of race where humans and donkeys run together in a call-back to mining days--and decided he and Sherman would enter the World Championship in Colorado.

Easier said than done. In the course of Sherman's training, Chris would have to recruit several other runners, both human and equine, and call upon the wisdom of burro racers, goat farmers, Amish running club members, and a group of irrepressible female long-haul truckers. An entire community comes together to help save Sherman and, along the way, Chris shows us the joy of a life with animals.

About the Author

Christopher McDougall covered wars in Rwanda and Angola as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press before writing his best-selling book Born to Run. His fascination with the limits of human potential led him to create the Outside magazine web series, "Art of the Hero." He currently lives with his wife, two daughters, and a farmyard menagerie in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Praise For…

“An inspiring—and laugh-out-loud—account of healing.” —People Magazine

“Hilarious. . . . McDougall tries to persuade . . . [a] donkey to partner with him for a ridiculously challenging pack burro race in Colorado. He is forced to realize that to win over the donkey he must slow down—and meet the inscrutable creature on its own terms. . . . Commune with animals and humans may rediscover their own humanity.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A smart critique of the culture of conventional American sports.” —Outside
Running with Sherman has . . . adventure, passion, and humor. . . . I promise that you will laugh, cry and cheer for the irrepressible Sherman and his hapless human partner.” —Aspen Daily News

“An absorbing tale . . . Running with Sherman is a highly engaging, deeply moving account of how fortitude, patience, love, and tenacity can heal physical and emotional wounds, and the amazing bond that can develop between humans and animals.” —The Santa Barbara Independent
“McDougall’s inspiring story is not to be missed . . . A journey full of heart and humor that will touch the animal-ambivalent as much as the animal-lover.” —BookPage
“A humorous and heartwarming book about not only running with donkeys but about community, our connections with one another, and our abilities to persevere and overcome physical and mental challenges.” —Library Journal
“Both inspiring and humorous, a testament to the depth of the animal-human connection.” —Booklist
“Sherman’s transformation from dying donkey to confident runner involved a circle of family, friends, neighbors, and a few feisty donkeys, each of whom McDougall portrays in affectionate, vivid detail . . . A charming tale of a resilient donkey and a community's love.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Runners and animal lovers alike can find inspiration in this story.” —Publishers Weekly
“I’ve always believed that people who didn’t love miniature donkeys are going to hell. I think people who don’t love this book may be too. This is more than just a lovely tale about a wounded animal. It is the kind of story that breaks your heart and mends it all in the space of a paragraph or even a line. Besides, it’s about a MINIATURE DONKEY.” —Rick Bragg, best-selling author of The Best Cook in the World
“I, like roughly three million other running enthusiasts, was briefly obsessed with Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen when it appeared a decade ago. Now, roving journalist and good-natured running proselytizer Christopher McDougall is back with another inspirational of borderline insane people racing inhumanly long distances. Except, TWIST: this time Chris isn’t just pounding the pavement with his fellow homo sapiens. In Running with Sherman, he recounts his efforts to rehabilitate the body, mind, and spirit of a weary donkey by entering them both in the pack burro racing World Championship.” —Dan Sheehan, Lit Hub “Most Anticipated Books of 2019 part 2”
“What an insane, amazing story. I genuinely cried so many times throughout it, and cried the happiest tears at the end. Running with Sherman is an inspiring love letter to the beautifully broken and the immeasurable power of healing together. It is a meaningful reminder that no one is ever beyond repair. This book motivated me to test my limits, and made me feel deeply ashamed my work ethic and athletic prowess are only half that of a farm animal. Sherman the Donkey is my personal superhero.”
—AJ Mendez Brooks, aka AJ Lee, WWE superstar and author of Crazy Is My Superpower.
“From the first page to the last, Running with Sherman is a delight, full of heart and hijinks and humor. I quickly fell in love with Sherman and the colorful cast of two- and four-legged characters that surrounded him. Christopher McDougall is a gifted storyteller who gets to the heart of the human-animal connection.”
—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog
“A charming story about animals and people in Amish Country.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human

Product Details
ISBN: 9781524732363
ISBN-10: 1524732362
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: October 15th, 2019
Pages: 352
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