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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dandy Dog Book Review:
You Had Me at Woof

Guest book review by Kristine Tonks
Photo courtesy Amazon
After reading the first chapter of Julie Klam’s book, You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness, my first thought was, “I could have written this myself.” I immediately identified with Klam’s early struggles to find her place. Skipping from job to job, she didn’t know what she was meant to be or what she was supposed to do. Following a hilarious attempt at becoming an animal communicator, the author eventually found what she was looking for in a funny-faced little Boston Terrier named Otto. The setting and specifics may have been different, but the overall experience was the same. I have a feeling Klam and I would be excellent friends.

Obviously, this was only the start of the story. I can only hope my future turns out to be as interesting as the author’s adventures. And my future dogs as sweet.

Otto’s life was unfortunately cut short by illness. It took Klam a long time before she felt ready to bring a new dog into her home. This is something else to which many can relate. By this time she was pregnant with her first child and holding down a steady writing career. She adopted her next dog from a Boston terrier rescue group in New York. Despite some issues, Beatrice proved to be the perfect addition to the increasingly hectic household. Though very different from Otto, she had just as many lessons to teach about love, patience, and sacrifice.

It is at this point the author decided to take her passion for dogs one step further. I alternated between giggling and sobbing as Klam described her experiences as a volunteer with the Boston terrier rescue. A long line of foster dogs paraded through the apartment. It was impossible not to burst out laughing at Hank’s crazy antics, and not to cry at the horrifying conditions of the city pound. Every dog was a new challenge. Klam’s tenacity and warm spirit through it all was an inspiration.

Julie Klam writes from a very personal space. As I read, I felt as if I was experiencing it all with her: the helplessness when a beloved foster dog was hit by a car, the exasperation when another refused to attend doggy day care, and the delight in puppies newly born. Just when things would settle, one of the dogs would come up with a new surprise. Even though Klam made sure not to sugar-coat the dirty details, she made it obvious when it comes to dogs, the joy far outweighs the pain.

One of the most important messages I gathered from this book, is that dog rescue is something achievable by anyone. Dog fostering doesn’t require a doctorate in animal welfare or a forty acre farm. All it takes is the desire to do some good. If someone like Julie Klam, who I identify with so much, can have four very different dogs in a very small apartment, packed in with a child and understanding husband, maybe I can do it too. With my cat’s permission, of course.

Kristine Tonks is a former history student who has recently discovered a passion for all things dog; she writes Rescued Insanity. If she hadn't adopted her dog, Shiva, from the shelter when she did, the piles of books would have taken over her house. Kristine feels that rescuing Shiva is by far the best thing she has ever done.

Other Book Reviews you may enjoy:
Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life
The Darkest Evening of the Year

Want your own copy of You Had Me at Woof? Click here to order your right now:


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