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Love at First Bark: Book Review

October 26, 2011

Love at First Bark
Julie Klam
Penguin Books
Reviewed for BlogHer Book Club

In this slim volume, Klam tells the story of some of the dogs she has loved. She is a big-hearted dog rescuer living in New York city.  And in each chapter, she introduces a dog she has loved. Klam shares her apartment with three, sometimes four dogs. Her heart goes out to dogs with special needs, desperate cases that might not find a home somewhere else. A trip to New Orleans with her husband was, in large part, a mission to help rescue a feral dog with a jar stuck on its head. (They ate beignets and heard music in the city too, but the trip was largely about the dog.)

If you’re a dog lover or a dog rescuer, this book is as much of a love letter to you as it is to the dogs she describes. Even as something of a skeptic, I found that her affectionate descriptions of the dogs struck an excellent balance. Conveying the dog’s personalities with warmth, without overly humanizing them. When I read about Morris, the abandoned pit bull who whimpers and cries to be petted and wants to cover faces with giant doggie kisses, I wanted to save him from animal control too. And I felt for Clementine, a dog beset by dozens of health problems, including incontinence! Yikes!

Because Klam writes straightforward, unadorned prose, reading and reviewing this book feels like judging and analyzing her family life. And what a life! Klam, her husband and her daughter share an apartment with three, sometimes four dogs. Dogs who have health problems, sometimes behavior problems (at one point, two of them are sent to behavior boot camp) and are dubiously housebroken. In, I reiterate, a New York apartment!

I’m impressed with the devotion Klam brings to rescuing and caring for dogs. I wonder about pursuing it to that level, even when money is tight. It can seem extreme. I have to be honest, I’m not entirely a dog person, though I do love petting other people’s dogs. I couldn’t live with that many dogs, even if they were so well behaved they practically walked themselves.

Disclosure: I received this book for review from BlogHer Book Club, and am being compensated for my fair and honest opinion of the book.

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