Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: Love at First Bark

I'll never forget my first upper-division college English class. As a self-proclaimed bookworm, I had already read most of the books we covered in the intro classes, and I was thrilled to be getting into something more meaty. Within minutes of purchasing the books on the syllabus, I had already begun reading, even though our first class meeting was months away. I was THAT excited.

The first book that my professor assigned was narrated by a dog. Don't ask me what it was called, because I think I've blocked it from my memory. It was the worst book I've ever read. EVER. It was painful to finish. I absolutely hated it, and couldn't even see what redeeming qualities someone else might find in the book as I usually can.

I'm a little bit ashamed to admit it, but since that experience, I've avoided "dog-books" like the plague. I think I just figured that I clearly wasn't one of those "dog people", and I'd never understand books that revolved around them. Marley & Me? Nope, didn't read it. I may or may not have avoided The Art of Racing in the Rain simply because it had a dog on the cover. However, for BlogHer Book Club, I was recently sent Love at First Bark: How Saving A Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself by Julie Klam. Truth be told, I had almost skipped participating this round because it was a "dog book"...but I'm always telling people that one of my favorite things about BlogHer Book Club is that it encourages me to read books I might not have read otherwise. So, I bit the bullet and agreed to read and review the book.

Shortly after it arrived, I sat down with Love at First Bark as I was getting ready to rock Lizzy to sleep for her nap. And honest-to-God, I didn't get up again until I'd finished the book. For the first time, Julie Klam's book didn't feel like a "dog book"--it felt like a witty, hilarious, lovely memoir that happened to include characters who were dogs right along with the human ones.

My favorite story in the book was Morris-the-Pitbull, whom Julie and her husband Paul happened upon on the street, tied to a lightpost. Upon asking around, they discovered that this particular tagless Pitbull had been tied up for quite some time. They quickly began calling him Morris, and Julie began trying to find him a home, Paul reluctantly staying with her, probably partly to ensure that Morris didn't come home with them. But unexpectedly, Paul and Julie, who had sort of been passing through their marriage like ships in the night, reconnected in a way that they haven't in a long time. I mean, haven't we all been there in relationships? In a place where you're just not connecting like you used to? And then suddenly, you get involved in something that helps you reconnect? Gives you something to talk about again?

Now that I've read Love at First Bark, I think that my prior aversion to most "dog books" (excluding the one I read in college English, which was just BAD) was that I simply couldn't relate. While we had dogs growing up, I felt rather ambivalent about them. I didn't love them. I honestly didn't even feel affection for them--they were just those two annoying things that barked at night and woke me up. I simply haven't loved a dog like a member of my family. Although I've never personally encountered that kind of love for a dog, for the first time when reading Love at First Bark, I could see how it's possible, and hope I'm fortunate enough to experience it someday.

Disclosure Statement: This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but as always, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.


  1. Marely and Me is about a dog!? I had no idea the genre existed! And what an inspiring story! It's so easy to get caught up in the humdrum. I guess that's one good side of long distance, you never take small things for granted. Until it's your turn to do the dishes.

  2. I just added this book to my Amazon wish list. :) That looks like our Zia on the cover. So sweet. I think dogs can definitely teach us a lot! :)


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