Sunday, January 22, 2012

You Had Me At Woof:How Dogs Taught Me the Secret of Happiness, by Julie Klam (author), Karen White (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781400166916, October 2010

Julie Klam was in her twenties, living alone, and convinced she'd never find True Love. She decided she needed a dog in her life, did careful breed research, and decided on a Boston terrier. Then she made an hours-long drive to Pennsylvania to adopt Otto, in part because his picture matched a dog's face she'd seen in a dream.

She thought she was just adopting a pet, to meet her own needs and have the company of a dog again. In fact, she had just taken the first step on the road to a life of dog rescue.

It didn't happen overnight. At first, Julie just enjoys Otto. She's got a lot of other things to worry about, such as finding a way to make a living that is satisfying, financially adequate, and doesn't force her to spend too many hours away from Otto. Toward that end, she takes a class in Animal Communication (the mystical kind.) It proves to be an entertaining experience that appeals to her sense of the ridiculous, and in the end she concludes that if it is not a complete fraud, she at least does not have any special talent in that regard.

Gradually, though, she finds herself visiting the website of the rescue group that connected her with Otto.  As she meets her future husband, has a child, and begins her career as a writer, she also starts to arrange transportation for rescued dogs and do home visits to potential adopters and potential foster homes.  She and her husband do some fostering themselves, though since they tend to end up with the more difficult dogs, it proves stressful for them, their daughter, and their own dog.
Klam writes about the frustrating experience of pulling dogs, Boston mixes, from the home of a nice, charming, dog-loving man who has both financial and emotional problems. There's both heartbreak and success here, and it's a moving story.  At one point, Klam is the only person available to pull an elderly female Boston mix from the city pound, where her owner has surrendered her and where she'd be unlikely to survive if not pulled immediately.

There are a lot of wonderful dog stories here, interwoven with the story of Julie Klam's life, and the lessons in love and happiness that she, her husband, and their daughter learn from the dogs.

Highly recommended.

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