It was tough letting that last picture post go away from the top of the blog, but time to get back to books and I am sure you can already see why I chose this next one...
... it was an instance of perfect timing with my reading buddy and fellow dog lover Joanna. I was in those rare few hours between books and really trying to figure if I needed another quickie book since my first quickie book of the year proved to be a bit of a challenge... or just dive in and read one of the many longer books I had under consideration. While I was trying to figure that out, Joanna messaged me on Facebook and said I just had to read You Had Me At Woof by Julie Klam. While she mentioned it was a lot about Boston Terriers, I hesitated as the title seemed way too cute-sy (yes, even for me), but when I headed over to Amazon and saw this cover... well... resistance. was. futile. Best yet, it was available on the Kindle, so within hours of Joanna's recommendation I was already reading it!
The subtitle of the book is "How Dogs Taught Me The Secrets of Happiness" and it is basically a memoir of Klam as she goes from young single woman in Manhattan looking to make a commitment of one sort of another... to a wife and mother... with many, many Boston Terriers along the way. While the subtitle suggest it is some kind of self-help/life lessons book, I really didn't find it to be that. What memoir-y book, canine-oriented or not, isn't about growing and learning with life experiences? But with this one being very dog-centric, you get all the expected laugh out loud moments along the way... and given that I said the book has many Bostons over the course of many years, you can imagine that there are near-tears, gut-wrenching ones too.
While the dogs in the book are Bostons, they are rescue dogs. I don't think it was Klam's intention, it only solidified my reservations about using and/or becoming involved with a dog rescue organization. So while there were many relate-able "dog" moments in the book, I didn't find a whole lot of "Boston" moments in the book and felt very fortunate of how relatively good our first Boston, Rocky, has been (and yes, we got him from a breeder).
(Caution: Tangents ahead).
As far as using a dog rescue, while I know it's all very well-intentioned, the process has been off-putting... from the applications and home visit/inspection, documenting, explaining, being judged on seemingly each and every pet-related decision ever made. Then, there are concerns about potential, and totally understandable, behavioral issues. I know this is not always the case, but given the heartbreaking scenarios that tend to lead to a dog being rescued, you'd have a hard time convincing me that the odds of behavioral issues are simply higher. This is certainly the case in the book as many of Klam's dogs are not well-socialized, bit/nipped, and barked. Basically, it's a lot of potential baggage (and I've been there, as all my cats have been from the Humane Society and some of them better than others... and we currently have one that is a true basket case). Of course, Klam loves all these dogs and finds ways to deal (or tolerate) these issues.. as I would as well, and believe me we've certainly had dog issues, particularly when we had a multi-dog household... but again, all I am saying is that the book served as a good reminder/wake-up call of what you're getting yourself into.
Speaking of multi-dog households, and another likely unintentional takeaway from the book is how happy and relatively calm things are just having one dog. Klam often had multiple dogs and it was gut-wrenching reading about the scraps/scrapes between the dogs. Been there, done that. The dynamics always change with the addition of each new pet and right now we are pretty firm in not changing that. I am not sure if we are projecting our/these thoughts onto Rocky, but he does seem quite happy being the only dog.. and why not, he is a spoiled rotten "only child"!
Back to rescues, the book also brought up why I have hesitated to get involved/volunteer with a rescue. Having never been allowed to have a cat or a dog as a kid, I found myself with 4 cats in about that first year I was on my own here in Arizona. While I have never watched those "hoarders" shows, I fear if I volunteered or fostered, I would just want to take in and keep every dog. This is something Klam struggles with varying degrees of success. Again, I don't know how you keep the emotional distance from a dog you love or, on the flip side, live with a dog you can't wait to get rid of. Again, these rescue organization folks -- largely volunteers -- do incredible work and I very much applaud and respect them... but in a rare instance of self-awareness and knowing myself well enough to not to even put myself into a position. It would be happy and fulfilling initially, but my guess is that ultimately it would add a lot of unneeded drama and stress into my life.
So, what did I think about the book? Well, no doubts that you have to be a dog lover to get any kind of enjoyment out it and again, while I didn't find a heck of a lot to relate to specifically with Klam's Bostons (i.e., Rocky never barks, and I heard that was a trait of Bostons... but not in this book!), it was still very fun to read about them. Entertaining and fun (well, except for one chapter) and compulsively readable, 240 pages in 4 days here.