This collection of entertaining essays about dogs and their human friends will have you smiling and often laughing out loud all the way through. Author Wade Rouse collected from some of America’s best known humorists their personal accounts of life with their canines. Anyone who has been lucky enough to be loved and owned by a dog will recognize, sometimes with a small catch in the throat, these insights into a relationship like none other.
"Wade Rouse has succeeded in creating a book that every dog lover will treasure, and I can’t imagine a greater gift for the dog lovers in your life."
I was especially captured by the motives behind entering into the dog/human equation, particularly for the first time. The reasons that many gave for becoming a part of this life-changing relationship are as diverse as the personalities involved.
Some are the newly partnered couples, unsure of whether to have a child. As Jen Lancaster relates in her essay, “Dogs Are The New Children,” she and her husband were open to sharing their home with another being, “just not one that had the ability to borrow their cars, or get their prom date pregnant, or get neck tattoos.” They sought control and believed in discipline, so they resolved to have pets, not kids. Their disapproval of other people’s children’s public behavior soon evaporated as their dogs threw their theory out the window by behaving as dogs tend to behave --- like themselves. “Eventually we’d morphed into the kind of parents we were so quick to judge,” she writes, “but we didn’t care.” The idea of bringing their own children into the world didn’t seem as daunting by comparison.
Then there are the singles who wouldn’t dream of bringing a human into their lives unless their dog approved. And the couples who really, really think of their dogs as people and dress them in fashionable outfits and speak to them in made-up languages.
There are the dogs who heal wounded souls, or become surrogate nannies to children. And dogs who co-opt a partner’s share of the bed and all of the furniture. And always, always, the dogs who just weasel their way into your heart in ways that you never expected
There are stories of the angels who offer foster care to dogs from the no-kill clinics where they volunteer. These generous and warm-hearted people help to transition a stray animal into an adoptable pet to find a forever home with a loving family.
The 21 short stories often say as much about the humans in the relationship as they do about the dogs and how they changed the humans. It rarely seems to be the other way around, at least not with true dog lovers.
Then there are those, like my husband and me, who have had dogs in our lives since childhood. Between us and with us, we counted 15 four-footed friends who, each in their own way, made significant changes --- all for the good, in our opinion --- to us and to the lives of our children. They are all grown now, and each has two dogs at the present, but that number fluctuates, frequently upward. And they are all from rescue shelters. My husband and daughter volunteered at a local shelter for many years, and the temptation to bring home every winsome little face you fall in love with is especially strong in our daughter. It’s a good thing she inherited some of her parents’ practical genes, or she’d be known as “that dog lady” in her community. They get to you --- they get inside you in ways that you can never imagine until you open your door and your hearts and let them in.
Wade Rouse has succeeded in creating a book that every dog lover will treasure, and I can’t imagine a greater gift for the dog lovers in your life. You will find some of yourself and especially something of your dogs on every page.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on October 13, 2011