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Dog Years: A Memoir (P.S.)by Mark Doty
Synopses & Reviews
Why do dogs speak so profoundly to our inner lives? When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he finds himself bringing home Beau, a large golden retriever, malnourished and in need of loving care. Beau joins Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family. As Beau bounds back into life, the two dogs become Mark Doty's intimate companions, his solace, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandoning all hope during the darkest days. Their tenacity, loyalty, and love inspire him when all else fails.
Dog Years is a remarkable work: a moving and intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about life, love, and loss. Mark Doty writes about the heart-wrenching vulnerability of dogs, the positive energy and joy they bring, and the gift they bear us of unconditional love. A book unlike any other, Mark Doty's surprising meditation is radiantly unsentimental yet profoundly affecting. Beautifully written, Dog Years is a classic in the making.
"Award-winning memoirist (Firebird) and poet (School of the Arts) Doty explores, with compassion and intelligence, the complicated, loving territory inhabited by devoted dogs and their loyal humans. In 1994, when the author's longtime lover was dying of AIDS, beloved pet Arden kept the surviving partner afloat. A new adoptee, the rambunctious Beau, in his 'sloppy dog way,' becomes a part of the tribe and carries some of the burden of grief. Doty says Beau 'carried something else for me too, which was my will to live.' In a time of devastating pain, as well as in happier times, Doty's two dogs are the 'secret heroes of my own vitality.' The dog characters in the book are irresistible, and the arcs of their lives are delineated with the tenderness and passion of the truly smitten. Arden's quiet nobility and slow decline breaks the heart, while Beau's goofy enthusiasm peaks with youth and mellows in illness. With a marvelous ability to present the pain of mourning with a poet's delicate hand, and an irrepressible instinct for joy, Doty delivers a soulful love story which illuminates no less than the big human mysteries: attachment, death, grief, loyalty, happiness. The book nimbly sidesteps sentimentality and lands squarely on a philosophical, inquisitive tone as intellectually evocative as it is emotionally resonant." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"I haven't owned a dog since childhood....I thought I might be indifferent, maybe even bored. Instead, I was charmed, moved, often fascinated." Chicago Sun-Times
"Doty writes unsentimentally but affectingly about the solace and companionship dogs provide, their vulnerability, and the hope and unconditional love they bring into a home." Out Magazine
"Rather amazing...[Doty's] boundless affection is tempered by graceful observations....A profound reflection on hope, and a song of praise for the dead." Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Its complex formal structure is like memory itself, and its exquisite pace reminds one of nothing so much as a stroll in the park with Fido. Poignant, intelligent, and quite simply superb." Library Journal (starred)
"[An] elegant and elegiac memoir....To be loved by Doty...is to be elevated into a realm of utter glory....Doty's tender yet cogent...observations...transcendently celebrate the essential connection between man and pet." Booklist
"Evocative, compassionate, a love story both intimate and grand, this is a beautiful book." Amy Hempel
"Life-affirming, lyrical, and profoundly affection....Only Mark Doty could have written a dog book (100 percent soul, 0 percent sentimentality) that covers so much ground without ever abandoning its four-footed subjects." Pam Houston, O magazine
"Dog Years is about dogs, which is to say, it is about everything we cannot talk about. Although Mark Doty manages to write about what he calls 'the unsayable' about our relationships with animals, and about unspeakable times of loss, Dog Years is not a dark book. It is illuminated from within by generous wonder." Louise Erdrich
A uniquely personal, moving, and inspiring journey into the rapidly emerging world of psychiatric service dogs, as Susannah Charleson works as an evaluator in shelters, plucking unwanted dogs, big and small, training them for this unique kind of service, and matching them with people in need.
An inspiring story that shows how dogs can be rescued, and can rescue in return.
With her critically acclaimed, bestselling first book, Scent of the Missing, Susannah Charleson was widely praised for her unique insight into the kinship between humans and dogs, as revealed through her work in canine search and rescue alongside her partner, golden retriever Puzzle.
Now, in The Possibility Dogs, Charleson journeys into the world of psychiatric service, where dogs aid humans with disabilities that may be unseen but are no less felt. This work had a profound effect on Charleson, perhaps because, for her, this journey began as a personal one: Charleson herself struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder for months after a particularly grisly search. Collaboration with her search dog partner made the surprising difference to her own healing. Inspired by that experience, Charleson learns to identify abandoned dogs with service potential, often plucking them from shelters at the last minute, and to train them for work beside hurting partners, to whom these second-chance dogs bring intelligence, comfort, and hope.
Along the way she comes to see canine potential everywhere, often where she least expects it and#8211; from Merlin the chocolate lab puppy with the broken tail once cast away in a garbage bag, who now stabilizes his partnerand#8217;s panic attacks; to Ollie, the blind and deaf terrier, rescued moments before it was too late, who now soothes anxious children; to Jake Piper, the starving pit bull terrier mix with the wayward ears who is transformed into a working service dog and, who, for Charleson, goes from abandoned to irreplaceable.
and#8220;Reading The Possibility Dogs is like taking an amazing literary journey with a dear friend by your side. The characters you meet will enchant you, but the storyteller will capture your heart. If you love dogs, this is a canand#8217;t-miss book written by a kindred spirit.and#8221; and#8212;Jennifer Arnold, author of Through a Dogand#8217;s Eyes and In a Dogand#8217;s Heart
After a grisly search-and-rescue operation led to troubling consequences for author Susannah Charleson, she found that her relationship with Puzzle, her search dog, made a surprising contribution to her own healing. Inspired by that experience, Charleson learned to identify abandoned dogs with service potential, plucking them from shelters and training them to work with disabled human partners, to whom the dogs bring assistance, comfort, and hope.
Similar to her best-selling first book, Scent of the Missing, Charlesonand#8217;s The Possibility Dogs goes beyond the science that explains working canines to tell the stories of the dogs themselves. Like Merlin, a black Lab puppy who had been thrown away in a garbage bag and now stabilizes his partnerand#8217;s panic attacks. And service dog Jake Piper, a formerly starving pit bull mix who went from abandoned to irreplaceable. This heartwarming combination of memoir and research is sure to both inform and inspire.
and#8220;What an amazing book. Combine love, knowledge, and real-life drama with pitch-perfect writing, and youand#8217;ll end up with The Possibility Dogs. Simply brilliant!and#8221; and#8212;Patricia McConnell, author of The Other End of the Leash
and#8220;Insightful and earthy, Charleson is never maudlin. She keeps it real . . . All the stories have tremendous heart and power and you believe Charleson when she writes: and#8216;Any dog can surprise you,and#8217; and and#8216;great dogs can come in odd packages.and#8217;and#8221; and#8212;Boston Globe
About the Author
Mark Doty's seven books of poetry and three books of nonfiction prose have been honored with such distinctions as the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Whiting Writers' Award, a Lila Wallace–Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and, in the United Kingdom, the T. S. Eliot Prize. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He is a professor at the University of Houston and lives in New York City.
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