12.22.2009

What the Dog Did by Emily Yoffe

" What the Dog Did" was a thoroughly enjoyable read by one of my favored journalists, Emily Yoffe (of Dear Prudence fame). I follow her column Dear Prudence religiously and I enjoy her immersive journalism pieces on Slate.com very much. This was a lovely peek into her home life, something I find intriguing about anyone, let alone someone I read regularly.

"What the Dog Did" chronicles the Yoffe family journey from begging to get a dog, through the trials and tribulations of ownership straight on through to love and integration of said pup. As a dog lover (duh) this was a no-brainer feel good book. Yoffe's research into the history of dog ownership was really interesting and supported by the frame of her narrative. I read this quickly over a long weekend of here and there attention. I laughed a lot. I recommend.

A few notes/potential spoilers -- her tales of Boston Terrier antics were a bit dismaying as BT loyalist and mother of two American Gentleman. I did find most of her reports on the breed amusing, but her run in with a nasty little guy made me think one bad apple may have spoiled the bunch for her. Just my two cents.

Further, there is an undercurrent of a story through the book of Yoffe's interaction with "Todd," her dog trainer. She addresses him regularly through the book and devotes an entire chapter toward the end to a rather shocking and upsetting turn of events in the course of Todd's life. This sideline is sort of like a thread hanging from a sweater. It's dangling there almost within reach for a good yank but the book ends without any such satisfaction. For a journalist like Yoffe, I was a little disappointed that a more decisive conclusion wasn't reached as to his fate. I was left scratching my head and wondering "what gives?"

Overall, I highly recommend for dog lovers or those considering a dog. It's a really great recap of what it's like to bring a dog into your life and bonus, a nice piece of Yoffe's writing, if you enjoy her work, as I do.

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