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Book Review - You Had Me at Woof

A life through dogs

I was in a snit the whole way home after buying You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam.  Until I opened my door to three wagging tails, six shining eyes, and twelve little paws tap dancing in pure delight at my return.  The happiness of my three dogs at the mere sight of me made me completely forget the jerk I had just dealt with at the bookstore. 

Now, I realize there are people out there who do not know the warmth of a cold nose nor the pleasure of hearing a happy tail thumping on fresh linens.  They don't know that a muzzle under the chin is a much preferred way to start the day than a blaring alarm clock, not to mention the sheer comfort of drifting off to sleep with a warm companion at the end of a long day. This book is not for those people, although it would probably do them a world of good to read it.

I have always been and always will be a dog lover.  This book did not change that in any way.  I can't remember a time when I didn't have a Schnauzer, Springer Spaniel, Border Collie or Mutt in my life. However, You Had Me at Woof (How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness) was a funny, smart, delightful little book, extremely well written by Julie Klam. I have three Border Collies, dogs that are said to be of the highest intelligence.  Klam states, "I never understood how that was determined. Were they found by their owners hooking up Bunsen burners and pouring liquids into flasks?" 

The author takes us on her incredible journey of life lessons via dog ownership from her single days in New York City through marriage and motherhood.  She is clever and humorous and the kind of person I would want as a friend. She became that woman by opening her home and her heart and accepting the many gifts that come with owning a dog. 

And she wrote a beautiful book.

From learning how to share her life to learning how to mourn the loss of friends (the unfortunate thing about loving dogs is that a dog's lifespan is a mere fraction of our own), from choosing the right dog to letting herself be chosen, the author exquisitely reveals her innermost thoughts, revelations, concerns and comedies of life with multiple tail-waggers. At one point, the author believed the strange behavior of an elderly foster dog in her care was in preparation for her own death when the rather homely, geriatric pooch actually gave birth to two puppies (originally believed to be mice). As Klam searches for the ultimate career (which would allow her to spend even more time with her dogs) and debates motherhood and additional children, Klam learns she has so much more to offer than she could have ever imagined.       

I, too, have rescued dogs and could completely relate to her hilarious and horrendous takes on the special needs these little misfits bring to the table. All dog lovers will ask, for the same reason I tend to avoid "dog books":  Will it make me cry? The answer is Yes (I have the swollen eyes and aching head to prove it). But, as surely as loving and letting yourself be loved by a canine counterpart, it will be worth it.

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