If dogs could write

Picture this.

I am reading after midnight alone in my bedroom. Husband is off doing Air Force Reserve duties and I can read as late as I want without bothering anyone. So I do.

I finish The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein sometime before 1 in the morning and as I turn the last page, I am weeping. I climb out of my bed and stumble downstairs in search of my dog. I must see him. I find Luke, my 12-year-old Labrador, asleep on his bed. I kneel down and throw my arms around him. “You’re such a good dog,” I murmur between sobs. He thumps his tail and just lets me do it.

I am not giving anything away by telling you the dog dies in The Art of Racing in The Rain. You learn that from the opening chapter. But reading this rather unconventional book, told from the point of view of a dog named Enzo, took me to a place I fear: the place where I lose my good old dog to old age. Luke is 12. He is losing his hearing. His hips sag and sway. He doesn’t run up the hill anymore. He sleeps a lot.

But I am not ready to say goodbye. Especially now, when I consider the highly remote possibility that Luke, like Enzo, could narrate the story of his life with us if he wanted to. And if he could, what he might say.

I loved this book for the fresh perspective on what a dog might observe as he lives out his life with the humans who gave him a name and an identity. If he had language, what would my dog say if given the chance to tell his life story? My dog has seen me at my best and my worst. He has seen me when life was breezy and when it was as turbulent as a cyclone. And he still wags his tail when I come in the door, whether I’ve been gone five minutes, five hours or five days. and you can just hear his unspoken thoughts: “You’re home. I’m glad.”

If you’ve ever read the excerpt from dog’s and cat’s diary – the author of which is unknown to me – and found it wildly funny, you will understand the depth of my devotion to my dog.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried as long or as loud at the reading of any other book.

Perhaps it was because it was nearly one a.m. when I finished it and I was over-tired from watching the Olympics every night past midnight for two weeks straight.

Perhaps it was because I was alone and didn’t have to hide my reaction from anyone.

Or perhaps it was because I know dogs don’t live near long enough. Enzo didn’t. And neither will my dog.

And it just doesn’t seem fair.

Why do we love our dogs so much? I think it’s because they love us, warts and all. I bet we’d be amazed at the stories they could tell, if we were brave enough to listen to them.

Great book. Don’t read without tissues at the ready.

Author: Susan

This post has 6 Comments

  1. Nicole on August 26, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    When we had to put down our last dog, well, I have yet to get over it. I loved him so much. I’m weeping now, darn you, Sooz. Animals touch the places human’s can’t quite reach. After all, they were the first companions of choice for Adam . . .

  2. Rachel Hauck on August 27, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Sooz, I’m with you! I’ll have to read this book… later.

    I am, like you, devoted to my dogs. And my cat. But dogs, hmm, just grip me.

    I wasn’t ready to lose Pal, but he went anyway. I’d tried to remember telling him I loved him and that he was a good boy, though trying at times. We doted on him.

    In the spring I found a dog walking down the road. I found her owner. The owner gave her to me. But at the moment I found Lola, I knew she was ours. I knew it. I think I know why now.

    God is amazingly good.

    Thanks for this post! It blessed me. As do you.


  3. Rel on August 27, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Lovely post, fellow Olympics fan! We hope to get our first dog with our girls in the next 12 months.

    I always had Labs growing up so I’m hoping we do the same 🙂

  4. Christina Berry on September 1, 2008 at 8:14 am

    I just finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which made me love my dogs even more.

    It’s not a CBA book, and not a everyone-lives-happily-ever-after. I heard it described as a modern day Hamlet, so fair warning.

    But, wow, does the author get dogs. And his writing can be so lyrical …

  5. Susan Meissner on September 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Makes me wonder why God decided to make a dog’s lifespan no more than 15 years. They are such devovted companions, loyal and fogiving. They worship us the way we ought to worship God. We should always be wagging our tails before God. Know what I mean? But we act like cats around our kind Savior. Aloof at times, saucy at others.
    Go figure. . .

  6. Beverly Giannetti on August 18, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    I loved “The Art of Racing in the Rain” so much. It was supposed to have been made into a movie, which I looked forward to seeing. However, that’s never happened.

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