“What if a wheezing, sneezing, allegedly house-trained, ticking time bomb of an orphan pug is the key to helping a family feel at home again after an arsonist set their house—and life—on fire? If you asked me, I would have said it’s a bad idea; we can do better. Unfortunately no one asked me, and The Pug List is my family’s story.” –Alison Hodgson

In the midst of battling insurance, building their new house and parenting three traumatized children—all while suffering her own scorching case of post-traumatic stress—now is the worst possible time to adopt a dog. But to Alison Hodgson’s seven-year-old daughter, Eden, it’s the perfect time—and The Relentless Campaign begins.

The campaign is fruitless … until Alison peeks inside Eden’s diary— her “Pug List”—and realizes in one fell swoop that her girl’s heart is on the line and resistance is futile.

“But the pug motivates me. So I just keep working and working all day long!
The pugs make me happy FOREVER!”

Enter “Outrageous” Oliver, and all the hilarity, extraordinary love, and unexpected healing that he brings.


“Hodgson, writer, speaker, and humorist, shares her poignant personal story of how their family rebuilt their lives after an arsonist set fire to their home. Hodgson details the experience of the sudden loss as she takes stock of not only their material possessions but the lost feeling of emotional security and the shock of leaving behind myriad cherished memories. She describes the aftermath in heartrending detail, exploring the ways she, her husband, and their children come to terms with the loss. As this life-defining fire set their lives on a new course, the Hodgsons found their faith to be the solid foundation upon which to start over. In the midst of all this chaos, a small blessing also came into their lives: Oliver the pug. Hodgson’s witty style of communicating both the serious and comical helps to balance out what could have been a dismal and downhearted tale of woe. Readers will find themselves revisiting the value they place upon their own homes and how such a devastating crime can alter a family’s sense of security. This memoir is a testament to the power of emotional therapy for life’s darkest times. Through the irresistible Oliver, Hodgson reminds readers that true safety in this world rests beyond our worldly desires and possessions.” Publishers Weekly

“A charming, funny and brutally honest take, demonstrating in surprising ways the power of God’s constant love.” Simple Grace Magazine

“’The Pug List’ is an honest memoir about loss as Hodgson reveals that an arsonist set the fire, the struggles the family faced, and the journey toward healing they are still on. It’s heartwarming, wry, and hilarious, as well.” Grand Rapids Magazine

“This heartwarming true story concerns a family who, after losing everything in a fire set by an arsonist, pick up the pieces of their life with the help of a wheezing, un-housetrained rescue Pug… An immensely likable story about family in all its forms and the joy and even blessings to be found in life’s struggles.” Modern Dog

“Readers will find themselves laughing, crying, and then sitting silently while contemplating how they might handle such an event themselves.” CBA Retailers & Resources

“This is a beautiful story, and beautifully told, of family and loss and love and rebuilding. Alison Hodgson’s love for literature is evident on every page.”

Shauna Niequist, New York Times bestselling author of Present Over Perfect

“A beautifully penned story of resilience and recovery, The Pug List is an inspirational memoir for anyone who has ever loved and lost. This family’s emotional journey provides a poignant lesson from a hopeful little girl and a troublesome pug to remind us all that love is always worth the struggle.”
–Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of THE FEATHERED BONE

“Alison Hodgson’s tender lament, in the wake of her family’s house fire, rings with faith and hope, even laughter. Her story mirrors life itself: love and beauty, complicated by grief—but never fully extinguished.”
–Jen Pollock Michel, Author of Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year, Teach Us to Want

“By turns sweet and terrifying, Hodgson takes us on a journey through the rebuilding of a house and a home. Regaining trust, recovering personalities, and adding a fur kid to the family on the way, she talks without sentimentality about the love of God for us, the love of mothers for families, and the love between kids and dogs. This memoir is a charmer.”
–Wendy Welch, author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

“At long last, research is confirming what dog lovers already know—each dog is a unique, sentient being with a complex personality. And Oliver, the snorty little black dog of The Pug List, has more personality, and less bladder control, than most. I’m in love with this powerful story about a hurting family who adopts, and is adopted by, an unforgettable dog who makes a little girl named Eden smile once again.”
–Susy Flory, New York Times bestselling author or co-author of ten books, including Thunder Dog and Painting With Metro.

“‘Why is a pug so good?’ So a little girl ponders in the pages of her journal while her family rebuilds following an inexplicable and devastating loss. The answer to this simple but deeply theological question is unfolded through this riveting and delightful memoir, encompassing everything that really matters: faith, family, and the unfailing goodness of God in the midst of both suffering and joy.”
Karen Swallow Prior, Ph.D., author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions–The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer Abolitionist

“I loved this story—heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and ultimately, life-affirming. Alison shows us, very clearly, the wonderful impact a dog can have on a family and the spiritual truth they teach us. Highly recommended.”
–Jim Kraus, author of The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge, and The Dog That Whispered

“You don’t have to like pugs to love this book. You’ll laugh and cry as you follow the family’s adventures through tragedy and triumphs, facing it all with honesty, faith and humor.”
–Dale Hanson Bourke, Author

“The Pug List is the best kind of book: heartwarming and hilarious and everything in between. In her family’s wrenching story of loss and discovery, Hodgson reminds us that even when in the worst bits of life, God stands ready to restore and redeem. And that this redemption is all the better when it comes with a dog.”
Caryn Rivadeneira, author of Known and Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms