Source: Won from Goodreads Firstreads Program/Bloomsbury
Edition: ARC, 289 pages
Genre: Nonfiction Memoir
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Steven Kotler was forty years old and facing an existential crisis—which made him not too different from just about every other middle-aged guy in Los Angeles. Then he met Joy, a woman devoted to the cause of canine rescue. “Love me, love my dogs,” was her rule, and not having any better ideas, Steven took it to heart. Together with their pack of eight dogs—then fifteen dogs, then twenty-five dogs, then, well, they lost count—Steven and Joy bought a tiny farm in a tiny town in rural New Mexico and started the Rancho de Chihuahua, a sanctuary for dogs with special needs. While dog rescue is one of the largest underground movements in America, it is also one of the least understood. This insider look at the cult and culture of dog rescue begins with Kotler’s personal experience working with an ever-peculiar pack of dogs and becomes a much deeper investigation into exactly what it means to devote one’s life to the furry and the four-legged. Along the way, Kotler combs through every aspect of canine-human relations, from human’s long history with dogs through brand new research into the neuroscience of canine companionship, in the end discovering why living in a world of dogs may be the best way to uncover the truth about what it really means to be human.
I personally did not enjoy this book the way I had hoped. The author does have a talent for writing and his style is fluid, precise, and quick paced. However, I can’t stand when people interrupt stories…especially if it’s their own story. There were a lot of very interesting, cute, sad, and touching stories about the dogs that he and his wife fostered, but just as a story is starting and you’re getting interested -pause- and the philosophy side story or research starts. After about a page or so of that you finally get back to the story but it’s just not the same now that you are bogged down with a bunch of knowledge about a wide assortment of things. I suppose to be fair this book isn’t purely about the dogs, it’s about the lifestyle and how he grew into it. So the fact that he is thinking about how he and the dogs interact and get to know each other is a good thing, I just would have preferred if the information would have come before the actual story or after, or if being in the middle is the only perhaps if it was shorter in length. That was my major dislike. There were a few issues I had with the author and that was just a personality clash I suppose. There are a few editorial mistakes like for example the author’s wife is named Joy, but there are a few times that he calls her Lila. It’s not terrible but it’s enough to make you backtrack to see who exactly he’s talking about.Also I never want to go to Chimayo, New Mexico ever…it sounds terrible. The scenery sounds beautiful but the community sounds absolutely terrible. It may not be that way now but I’m definitely not going to put it on “to travel” list.
I personally love the message that this gives though. Dog rescue is hard work and by no means pretty, but the rewards come in so many different ways. This book proves that there is a lot we can learn from animals, and there are somethings we may never understand. I can’t say I recommend this because it was a bit of a tedious read but if you really enjoy books about animals and/or animal rescuing I’m sure you would enjoy this a lot.