As someone who's been involved, in our own small way, in dog rescue (we've opened our doors to six pugs over the years, four of whom were rescues, and my wife is still active, across country, with the Seattle Pug Rescue organization), I knew Steven Kotler's tale of his much, much larger-scale commitment to dog rescue would be an emotional combination of highs and lows. What I wasn't expecting was the fascinating discussion of evolutionary genetics showing the amazing extent to which dogs and humans have evolved to live together and rely on each other. That combination illustrates the interesting balance of this book. It's about Kotler's own journey into full-time dog rescue, his evolving relationship with his wife and their dogs, his exploration of that science, and -- yes -- an emotional combination of high and lows.
I would certainly encourage people involved in animal rescue to read this, but so too would I recommend it be read by any current, former, or future pet-owner. Animal rescue is the too-often-unseen "other side of the story" -- the reality of what happens when the adorable puppy becomes a large and energetic adult, when Easter passes and the child is no longer interested in the pet bunny. It's then when people like Steven Kotler (or, more correctly, his wife) step in to provide a few of the more fortunate animals a second chance at a decent life. It has a dramatic effect on the lives of those animals -- but as this powerful little book shows, it has a dramatic effect on us, too.
Honestly, I stumbled at the first page of the preface, but I'll give any book 30 pages of attention, so I kept moving. By the first page in chapter 1, I was hooked, and I put the book down at 2 AM, when I was done. Full disclosure: I live with six dogs, including 4 black dogs, 3 dogs over 70#, and one Chihuahua. All foundlings. I know of one 200# dog that may come my way, if her owner dies, and I try to keep a place open for her. I do not do formal "rescue," but I live where … more
"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" weaves personal experience, cultural investigation, and scientific inquiry as it explores "what it means to devote one's life to the furry and the four-legged."--Dust jacket. The author chronicles his adventures at Rancho de Chihuahua, the New Mexico sanctuary he and his wife created for their special needs dogs.
“Joyous… Brimming with humor, gratitude, and grace, this is a remarkable story.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“As he recounts their life in Chimayo (the pack at times approaches 50, all entertainingly delineated), Kotler seamlessly blends a history of Chimayo, a well-articulated understanding of how humans and dogs coevolved, and background on animal welfare efforts in this country with his witty, sharp-edged, and rewarding reflections on life. Kotler defiantly proclaims his love of Chihuahuas (he's hilarious), then shatters our hearts and ends by laying down a real ethical challenge. Highly recommended not only for dog lovers but for readers of memoir, biology, and anthropology and seekers generally.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Part memoir and part philosophical study of the dog-human relationship... Reflecting on the writings of mystics, philosophers, and animal ...