“The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen about her beloved black Labrador retriever, Beau. With her trademark wisdom and humor, Quindlen reflects on how her life has unfolded in tandem with Beau’s, and on the lessons she’s learned by watching him: to roll with the punches, to take things as they come, to measure herself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present, to raise her nose in the air from time to time and, at least metaphorically, holler, “I smell bacon!”
Of the dog that once possessed a catcher’s mitt of a mouth, Quindlen reminisces, “There came a time when a scrap thrown in his direction usually bounced unseen off his head. Yet put a pork roast in the oven, and the guy still breathed as audibly as an obscene caller. The eyes and ears may have gone, but the nose was eternal. And the tail. The tail still wagged, albeit at half-staff. When it stops, I thought more than once, then we’ll know.”
Heartening and bittersweet, Good Dog. Stay. honors the life of a cherished and loyal friend and offers us a valuable lesson on our four-legged family members: Sometimes an old dog can teach us new tricks.
Earlier this week, while at a lunch with co-workers, someone asked how many books I had left in this year’s 52-book challenge. When I told them and said I needed short books so I could read a few during the long holiday weekend (in between the turkey-induced naps), two of them said Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen. The next day, I was lent a copy and it jumped to the top of my “power mode finish” for the year.
I was excited to read this book, and if I’m completely honest, it was for the sole reason that it was a quick read. I’ve realized over this year that you tend to get what you expect when it comes to books. I don’t know if it’s because you’ve already made up your mind or what, but this one was exactly what I expected: a short book.
I’ve read memoirs on dogs before, as well as fiction about dogs and their meaning to our lives, and they’ve all left me satisfied and smiling. While I’m sure Beau was a very special dog, it’s not displayed often in this short read. The book is full of pictures (they are all very cute!) but when reading about a dog, one can appreciate him more when one can read about the dog’s special personality. (Think Oogy or A Dog’s Purpose)
That being said, this was cute, VERY quick to read (think one-sitting actually) yet left me wanting so much more.