Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review: A Big Little Life


Oh people. Oh DOG people.

Dean Koontz who? Trixie, the Koontz family dog definitely stole the show on this one. That is sort of the point on a memoir about man's best friend. I can't remember why or how I found this book and added it to my 2012 list late last year, but this was a good one. An easy read at 270 pages, this book made me think that I really need to read some more of Koontz's work; his writing is wonderful, and that I miss our dogs, or having a dog, a lot.

I love dogs, and even though our family doesn't have any dogs currently (we lost both 2 years ago and our living situation prevents it), all four of us talk about 'when we have our next dog' and 'we can't wait to take our new pup on walks' and on and on. We love dogs. Our kids love dogs, and some of our happiest family moments have happened with our playful pets around to share them.

Dean Koontz and his wife Gerda never had children and after many decades of marriage decided to get a pet. They had decided to adopt a dog that was released from Canine Companions for Independence (an organization that trains, fosters out, and unites owners with various types of guide dogs) and it was just the amount of whimsy and magic their family needed. This book is a special tribute to the friend who helped them see the world anew--full of wonder, sweetness, and simple joy at the world around them. Koontz's writing was superb, and he articulated so well how people and animals can coexist peacefully, and how amazing these creatures really are in terms of work ethic, loyalty, and friendship.

Of course all animal stories must come to an end as they are  so often with us a short time, but his chapter on Trixie's death was heartbreaking and yet still hopeful. One of the things I kept bringing up to Stefan while I read, was how well trained and obedient these dogs were, and how adopting a release dog (one who can't participate as a guide dog because of a medical condition, but needs a home) would be an option for us in the future. I even mentioned that at some point we might want to become volunteers for an organization like this, which the 18 month training period is for people who love dogs and will be consistent trainers for their next owners--something Stefan is extremely good at and enjoys, and that our family would find as a simple extension of life.

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars for the excellent writing, the love and friendship between every page, and for the worthy cause it promotes. Of course, we don't see dogs as children, and would never call them as such, but as we are tenders on this earth of creation--pets included--it is our responsibility to care for them in a humane, and loving way, and this book reflects that concept beautifully. 

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