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How an Abandoned Dog Named Bruno Turned This Mobster's Life Around -- A Memoir

How did a former mob enforcer become a compassionate advocate for animals in need of loving homes? How did his hardened heart open up to the plight of abused and abandoned pets?

James “Head” Guiliani was an unlikely candidate to become a passionate animal rescuer. Raised in a religious family in a blue-collar neighborhood, James became involved in street gangs at a young age. By his mid-twenties, he’d become a 6’2″ 250-pound enforcer for the Gambino crime family during the reign of infamous mob boss John Gotti. But after years of worsening alcohol and drug use and a stretch in the Riverhead Correctional Facility, James finally hit bottom.

It was then that he met Lena Perrelli, who helped turn his life around, providing the love and support he’d rejected in the past. And when the couple rescued an abandoned and abused shih tzu, the second phase of James’s salvation began. Lovingly named Bruno, the small dog opened the former enforcer’s hardened heart, and James discovered a new purpose in life as a devoted animal rescuer.

Dogfella tells how this onetime altar boy from Queens became a gang member, a mob confidante, an an addict and convicted felon — and how he found redemption by dedicating his life to animals. Alongside his personal journey, James shares stories from his rescue missions with Keno’s Animal Rescue Shelter in Brooklyn: saving pit bulls from a dogfighting ring, driving through six-foot snowdrifts to reach 200 cats stranded in a blizzard, taking in homeless ducks from Staten Island, and many more. Sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and often poignant, James’s story shows how the love of an animal can bring even the most hopeless cases a new purpose and a path to redemption.
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Genre: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs

On Sale: June 2nd 2015

Price: $3.99 / $4.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 256

ISBN-13: 9780738218083

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"In this funny, touching tale, a wise guy barks back at his addictions by rescuing a shih tzu named Bruno. Guaranteed to warm every animal lover's heart."— Bruce Goldstein, author of Puppy Chow is Better than Prozac

Publishers Weekly, 6/22/15
“Guiliani's unique story is likely to resonate with animal lovers, and even inspire them to speak up and take action against animal abuse.”

Hudson Valley News, 7/10/15
“A heartwarming tale about a bad guy tamed by a very small and wonderful creature…A truly delightful and inspiring memoir, and a perfect read for a sunny summer evening.”

Chicago Tribune, 8/25/15
"Dogfella demonstrates how one small dog can make a big difference.”

Parade, 8/26/15
“In Dogfella, Guiliani recounts how his love for Bruno compelled him to abandon his life as a mob enforcer and focus his efforts on remarkable acts of animal rescue.”
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