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Woman's Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives

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They may be known as man's best friend, but as the writers in this poignant, funny, and dramatic collection know, there's no gender divide when it comes to canines. Whether walking down the street, gathering at the dog park, hitting the open road, or spending one too many nights together on the couch in front of the TV, a woman and her dog are an enduring pair. And there a They may be known as man's best friend, but as the writers in this poignant, funny, and dramatic collection know, there's no gender divide when it comes to canines. Whether walking down the street, gathering at the dog park, hitting the open road, or spending one too many nights together on the couch in front of the TV, a woman and her dog are an enduring pair. And there are many who consider their dogs to be members of their family and themselves to be full-fledged dog moms, even if they're single. From the family dog who takes on the anxiety of a family as the writer's sister battles breast cancer, to the compelling tale of a woman searching for her furry friend in the aftermath of September 11th, to the blind and deaf dog who teaches everyone about keeping on truckin' no matter what predicaments she gets into, the essays in this anthology get at the heart of love — and yes, sometimes love-hate-relationships women have with the dogs in their lives.


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They may be known as man's best friend, but as the writers in this poignant, funny, and dramatic collection know, there's no gender divide when it comes to canines. Whether walking down the street, gathering at the dog park, hitting the open road, or spending one too many nights together on the couch in front of the TV, a woman and her dog are an enduring pair. And there a They may be known as man's best friend, but as the writers in this poignant, funny, and dramatic collection know, there's no gender divide when it comes to canines. Whether walking down the street, gathering at the dog park, hitting the open road, or spending one too many nights together on the couch in front of the TV, a woman and her dog are an enduring pair. And there are many who consider their dogs to be members of their family and themselves to be full-fledged dog moms, even if they're single. From the family dog who takes on the anxiety of a family as the writer's sister battles breast cancer, to the compelling tale of a woman searching for her furry friend in the aftermath of September 11th, to the blind and deaf dog who teaches everyone about keeping on truckin' no matter what predicaments she gets into, the essays in this anthology get at the heart of love — and yes, sometimes love-hate-relationships women have with the dogs in their lives.

30 review for Woman's Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julia Ce

    As a dog lover (I don't have one of my own YET), I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed hearing stories from different women of different ages from different walks of life talking about their dogs, the different relationships they have with them. There were a couple different stories that had me reaching for tissues, but for the most part I thought this was a very well written book and it did have quite a bit of humor in it. I would read other books written by the women who put these collections to As a dog lover (I don't have one of my own YET), I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed hearing stories from different women of different ages from different walks of life talking about their dogs, the different relationships they have with them. There were a couple different stories that had me reaching for tissues, but for the most part I thought this was a very well written book and it did have quite a bit of humor in it. I would read other books written by the women who put these collections together, and I would recommend this book to other dog-lovers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amber Polo

    A mixed bag memoirs by women writers about their dogs. I loved the variety of emotions brought up as I read through the collection. And the little photos were a perfect addition. Pam Houston and her Irish Wolfhounds have a special spot in my heart.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    Must read for all dog lovers. This beautiful compilation of women's stories about the dogs of their lives sits close to my heart, not just because they are all relatable tales but because this book belonged to my grandma. This book fully embodies my grandma's love of dogs and I am sure she must have loved this book just as much as I do. I do not tend to reread books but this is a book that I think I will find myself flipping back to from time to time. I have to dedicate this to the two who I tho Must read for all dog lovers. This beautiful compilation of women's stories about the dogs of their lives sits close to my heart, not just because they are all relatable tales but because this book belonged to my grandma. This book fully embodies my grandma's love of dogs and I am sure she must have loved this book just as much as I do. I do not tend to reread books but this is a book that I think I will find myself flipping back to from time to time. I have to dedicate this to the two who I thought of continuously while reading this; my sweet, enormous yellow lab Kiki and my amazing, dog-loving grandma. I miss them both every day.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    3.5/5 I really did enjoy this book but I love some stories more than others. I found some pointless and not long enough to be able to get into a story line, while others I just found so touching and heartwarming. Another flaw I found with this book is every women had to have a pure breed golden retriever or Labrador or Great Dane. While those dogs are sweet, what about the rescue dogs in shelters who are looking for their forever home ? I think making adoption your first option is the way to go. 3.5/5 I really did enjoy this book but I love some stories more than others. I found some pointless and not long enough to be able to get into a story line, while others I just found so touching and heartwarming. Another flaw I found with this book is every women had to have a pure breed golden retriever or Labrador or Great Dane. While those dogs are sweet, what about the rescue dogs in shelters who are looking for their forever home ? I think making adoption your first option is the way to go. These dogs are your life. Other than that I was touched but how dogs are a major impact of happiness on our lives. Where would we be without our furry, four legged, tail wagging, drooling friends ?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    Good story that any dog lover can relate to many. Warning: this book provokes many emotions smiles happy and sad tears.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Astrid

    I am always keen on reading about dogs (or cats or most any other animals, as well as the human-animal bond), so I read this book. Though entertaining, it is not a volume that I would place among the timeless works on my bookshelves. The editor asked a number of acquaintances to submit an essay about a dog in their lives, and this is the compilation. Though most, if not all, of the contributors are professional writers, the tone is a bit casual, more like magazine articles. The first tip-off th I am always keen on reading about dogs (or cats or most any other animals, as well as the human-animal bond), so I read this book. Though entertaining, it is not a volume that I would place among the timeless works on my bookshelves. The editor asked a number of acquaintances to submit an essay about a dog in their lives, and this is the compilation. Though most, if not all, of the contributors are professional writers, the tone is a bit casual, more like magazine articles. The first tip-off that the book might not suit me was the intro in which the editor said she did not want sentimental stories; a couple of stories were much too unsentimental for my taste, i.e. the dogs were wronged and paid the ultimate price. This is not to say that any of the contributors didn’t love and care for their own dogs, as they certainly did. The best chapter was by Caroline Knapp, who reflected on the intensity and depth of our bonds, their immense value. Hers was the closing chapter, which was fitting, as it provided a meaningful overview.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Dyson Eitelman

    A collection of short epistles on dogs, by women. Some I liked pretty much, like Running With Trout by Sarah Corbett, on Dog as running partner, motivator and role model. Leaving our Chains by Susan T. Lennon is a story of how she adopted a dog, left a corporate, high-stress job and learned that just as the dog didn't need collars and chains to be a loyal and happy companion, neither did she. But in general, I think I'll steer clear of short collections by varied authors in the future. I can't be A collection of short epistles on dogs, by women. Some I liked pretty much, like Running With Trout by Sarah Corbett, on Dog as running partner, motivator and role model. Leaving our Chains by Susan T. Lennon is a story of how she adopted a dog, left a corporate, high-stress job and learned that just as the dog didn't need collars and chains to be a loyal and happy companion, neither did she. But in general, I think I'll steer clear of short collections by varied authors in the future. I can't be sure--well, I could probably be sure but I'm too lazy to research--but I think these people were asked to contribute an article for the collection and then their offerings were taken as is, without discernment. It reminded me of Alone In the Kitchen With an Eggplant--short, bland, and quickly digested, like a puffy roll. Tastes great but doesn't stick in the stomach like my mama's Sunday morning biscuits did.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Like collections of short stories, collections of personal essays can do their contents a disservice -- I, at least, often wind up reading too many at one sitting, and then their flaws or similiarities show too clearly. But read at longer intervals, in the odd little moments of extra time -- 5 minutes here or there -- these kinds of collections can be enjoyable. This is a book of short personal essays about women and the dogs in their lives -- most are love stories of one flavor or another, but Like collections of short stories, collections of personal essays can do their contents a disservice -- I, at least, often wind up reading too many at one sitting, and then their flaws or similiarities show too clearly. But read at longer intervals, in the odd little moments of extra time -- 5 minutes here or there -- these kinds of collections can be enjoyable. This is a book of short personal essays about women and the dogs in their lives -- most are love stories of one flavor or another, but not all. Some are beautiful and moving, others were like magazine columns. But easy to swallow little morsels. A few stick in my memory; others made me think about writing my own book. Neither of those responses is a bad thing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    Picked this older book (2006) up at a second hand book sale and really enjoyed most of the short stories that focus on the lives of women and the dogs they have loved. Some make you laugh, others cry, and all are very unique yet familiar to any dog owner. I really appreciated the women-oriented perspective (i.e., dogs are not just "man's best friend"). Some stories were a bit hard to take for those who are still grieving the loss of a pet, but you can skip ahead of those until ready to read them Picked this older book (2006) up at a second hand book sale and really enjoyed most of the short stories that focus on the lives of women and the dogs they have loved. Some make you laugh, others cry, and all are very unique yet familiar to any dog owner. I really appreciated the women-oriented perspective (i.e., dogs are not just "man's best friend"). Some stories were a bit hard to take for those who are still grieving the loss of a pet, but you can skip ahead of those until ready to read them. Very engaging.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is an uneven collection of essays on the dogs in women's lives. From corrupted cat-lovers, to life-long dog owners, these writers write about everything from neurotic dogs, to sanity-saving companions, from the role that dogs can play in opening one's social life, to the desire to just hang with your dog who will always (well, almost) be less complicated than human relationships. Not a must read, but it can be digested an essay or two at a time before bed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    One of my best friends, Brendan, gave me this for Christmas - I've finally gotten to read it now - and it was great. There was one story that I really disliked - a woman put to sleep a dog that she'd rescued - and I'm not sure I needed the article at the end of the book, but overall it was great and I really enjoyed it. An easy read - great for feeling good and not stressing yourself or taxing your reader's mind. :)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    I enjoyed this book, but only a couple of the women I could relate with. I am a Dog Mom freak.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette M. Hartman

    A delightful collections of dog tales by writers as diverse as Rebecca Skloot, Susan Cheever and Caroline Knapp. Some are serious, like Skloot's report on an aggressive pack of dogs roaming New York sidewalks that the city refuses to deal with; some are hilarious, like Kathryn Renner's about the family dachshund, Murphy Brown, who took up residence in the family's '99 Mercedes 320E, after discovering its luxurious charms when she was kept in the car during a house remodeling project. The noise, A delightful collections of dog tales by writers as diverse as Rebecca Skloot, Susan Cheever and Caroline Knapp. Some are serious, like Skloot's report on an aggressive pack of dogs roaming New York sidewalks that the city refuses to deal with; some are hilarious, like Kathryn Renner's about the family dachshund, Murphy Brown, who took up residence in the family's '99 Mercedes 320E, after discovering its luxurious charms when she was kept in the car during a house remodeling project. The noise, the dust and the strangers were intolerable for the little dog. Once Murphy tasted the pleasures of leather seas, lumbar support and a sunroof, she never wanted to stay in the house again. This book is like a Whitman sampler for literary dog lovers: a bite-sized joy every time you open the cover.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Several good stories in the bunch, however, the book was ruined for me with a couple of stories. One where the dog is put down after biting their two yr old, even though it did not break the skin and they don't know what caused it. So what if the dog was protecting itself, because the 2 yr old bit it's ear or pulled its tail. Pretty harsh! There may be more to the story, but it isn't in the book. Lots of other options like finding it a new home, keep them separate, hiring a trainer..... The othe Several good stories in the bunch, however, the book was ruined for me with a couple of stories. One where the dog is put down after biting their two yr old, even though it did not break the skin and they don't know what caused it. So what if the dog was protecting itself, because the 2 yr old bit it's ear or pulled its tail. Pretty harsh! There may be more to the story, but it isn't in the book. Lots of other options like finding it a new home, keep them separate, hiring a trainer..... The other one I disliked was about the old man and his pack of dogs which ran loose and terrorizing the neighborhood.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bostonlotus

    Thoroughly boring, ... Except for that one where the author euthanized her dog of several years, instead of finding out why she snapped at the kid, ... Guess we were supposed to just understand, huh?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Ah, when life starts to dictate your reading habits. I just got a dog, so I'm on the hunt (sometimes quite unconsciously) for dog-related material to read. I grabbed this after about two seconds of thought in the Pet section of the library. Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of real-life short stories about different female writers and the dogs that influenced them. There were some that were fairly inane (hey, we can't all have amazingly interesting lives) and some that were humorous. Oth Ah, when life starts to dictate your reading habits. I just got a dog, so I'm on the hunt (sometimes quite unconsciously) for dog-related material to read. I grabbed this after about two seconds of thought in the Pet section of the library. Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of real-life short stories about different female writers and the dogs that influenced them. There were some that were fairly inane (hey, we can't all have amazingly interesting lives) and some that were humorous. Others really touched me, as do most things that deal with loving pets/loved ones dying (oy, just get me a tissue box now). One of the last stories was certainly more cerebral than some, discussing the impact dogs have on one's social life, or lack there-of. Do we use dogs to retreat from the world to salve a damaged life, or do we use dogs as an easy way to meet people on the street? I can already attest to the fact that I've met more people in my neighborhood in the last five days than I ever have in the last two and a half years of living there. The story that really caught me and left me choking back tears and anger in the middle of the restaurant I was eating lunch and reading to myself was the one about the homeless man and his pack of dogs in NYC. I forget the author/name of the story at the moment, but that one just resonated with me. It was truly terrifying to think about people being terrorized by an aggressive pack led by a homeless man in the city and having not ONE authority figure do a thing about it. I felt the righteous anger and incredible fear right alongside the author as she raced to rescue her poor dog from being eaten alive and then embarked on a fruitless quest to get the authorities, from any sector, to do something about it. Why have laws if the people we expect and elect to uphold them do nothing? And the fact that there was no solution, no wrap-up at the end because this is true story and not everything gets a happy ending...rough. So all in all, I'd say go read this if you're a dog lover and like personal essays. I was sad to see it end.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This is a terrific collection of essay of women writers about woman's best friend. I laughed and cried. Pam Houston's foreword has made me cry multiple times as I've read it to friends. She is a stunning writer. I also particularly liked Julia Fulton's "Sage the Hollywood Dog," about her rescued dog becoming the Chuckwagon dog, and Caroline Knapp's "Surrogate Dog." Then I read the bio section and sobbed when I learned Knapp died in 2002 at the age of 42. Sobbed! There is also a story about a wom This is a terrific collection of essay of women writers about woman's best friend. I laughed and cried. Pam Houston's foreword has made me cry multiple times as I've read it to friends. She is a stunning writer. I also particularly liked Julia Fulton's "Sage the Hollywood Dog," about her rescued dog becoming the Chuckwagon dog, and Caroline Knapp's "Surrogate Dog." Then I read the bio section and sobbed when I learned Knapp died in 2002 at the age of 42. Sobbed! There is also a story about a woman putting down a violent dog despite years of training that was extremely jarring. I love the little photos of each dog that accompany their story. Highly recommended to female dog lovers. From Pam Houston's foreword about her dog Dante, the inspiration for Dante in her stunning book Sight Hound: "He taught me that loving, in the face of inevitable loss, is the single most important challenge of our lives; that without loss, life isn't worth a hill of beans, and without love, life is nothing more than a series of losses." Funny intro to Susan Cheever's "Little Dog, Big Heart": I was brought up to believe that there were two kinds of dog people. Big-dog people were smart, classy, generous, whiskey drinkers. They didn't hug and kiss each other; instead they relied on shoulder punches and handshakes to express affection. Small-dog people lived in over-decorated apartments, where they talked about their needs in screechy voices and drank only sherry. Cat people were not even discussed." From Knapp's entry: "This dog is an enormous solace to me, a constant companion and witness to my daily life, a being I have come to feel closer to in many ways than members of my family. She represents a choice, a style of living and loving that may not be conventional but that is valid in its own right, if only because it's my own."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    This is a book of short pieces from a variety of female writers (mostly journalists), all about dogs. I've been slowly reading it for several weeks now, and just finished it the other night. A few of the women featured in the book are ones I've read before, most notably Pam Houston and (the late) Caroline Knapp, both of whom have other work I much admire. The dogs featured are a motley bunch, from Pam Houston's herd of Irish Wolfhounds (how I envy that!) to a couple of dauschunds. They are person This is a book of short pieces from a variety of female writers (mostly journalists), all about dogs. I've been slowly reading it for several weeks now, and just finished it the other night. A few of the women featured in the book are ones I've read before, most notably Pam Houston and (the late) Caroline Knapp, both of whom have other work I much admire. The dogs featured are a motley bunch, from Pam Houston's herd of Irish Wolfhounds (how I envy that!) to a couple of dauschunds. They are personal pets, dogs of friends and family, or neighborhood menances. Some of them are already gone, but most are still alive. And the essays in the book explore several angles of the human-dog relationship. Or, I guess, more specifically, the woman-dog relationship. There are good dogs and bad dogs, and relationships that are more and less fulfilling. Which is exactly why I liked the book as a whole--it portrays the relationships between women and their dogs as something more than a simple idea of unconditional love or, worse yet, surrogate children. It portrays these relationships as complex, organic entities. Which is what, in my experience, they are. As books about dogs go, I'd rank this one up there with Knapp's full length work, Pack of Two. And that's saying something.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    If you love dogs and are a woman, then this book is for you! It's a compilation of stories written by women who have been touched by the life (or lives) of a dog(s). I am a dog lover of course and try to help stray dogs find homes and am currently fostering a blue pit who needs lots of love and redirection so I was really touched by this book and was glad someone, a woman, had the great idea to get this together.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. If I could have given this book more than 5 stars I would have! I loved that it was a compilation of short stories. I think that is what made it so easy to read. I cried, I laughed and I got angry (especially at one story in particular). One story, about a dog named Bonnie, stuck with me mainly because I am interested to see how she is doing and to see if her owner got anywhere with the police. If you have this book or see it, read it! You will be glad you did :-)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Avocados

    A fun set of short stories about women and their dogs. At first I felt very resistant to the topic and thought it would all be stories about dead pets, but it covered all sorts of areas that I've thought about, like how I might like my dog better than my cat and how much fun it can be to meet other women who have dogs. Plus Pam Houston wrote the intro, so how can it be bad?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Glennie

    Currently reading this one in spurts along with the Elizabeth George. Had my co-worker, a fellow dog lover, read a couple of the chapters. It is a lovely book! Finished this one now. It was fantastic! Any dog lover would enjoy this book. I could totally relate to the story entitled "On-Line Dogging".

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I'm not a big short story fan, but I enjoyed the stories in this book. My favorite quote from Marion Winik's Seven Reasons Not to Get a Dog, "They live just one year for every seven of ours, and that is the best-case scenario. Perhaps this is why you will love your dog seven times as much as a human being."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    As with any anthology, some stories I liked more than others. Some made me cry, some made me laugh, and some were a chore to get through. I guess you could say the same thing about dogs. :D Overall, I liked reading about other women's experiences with dogs and heartwarming stories of dogs that had a special place in their lives.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I love this book and consider it a must read for any dog moms! It made me laugh a lot and cry a little, and it definitely warmed my heart and I could identify with a lot of the stories, being a dog mom myself. I want everyone to read this book who loves their dog(s)!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Sweet and some bittersweet true stories about the bonds that women develop with their canine friends, complete with little photo shots of each dog. Not schmaltzy at all and full of many different perspectives on puppy love.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Some wonderful, charming stories from women writers about their relationships with their dogs. Not all are warm and fuzzy, and a few made me misty. But it's nice to know I'm not the only one who gets all ooey-gooey about my dog!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Genine Franklin-Clark

    While I found the stories somewhat interesting - some more, some less - the typos were annoying. I read this on my Kindle and the women's names were often misspelled, as were at least two of the dogs' names. Shouldn't editing have caught up with ebooks by now?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    # NC Own in paperback. FS: "We were put on Earth to be educated. I'm convinced of it." LS: "She represents a choice, a style of living and loving that may not be conventional but that is valid in its own right, if only because it's my own."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Parks

    A touching compilation of women writers' relationships with their dogs. I would recommend this book to any dog lover, or anyone who shares a strong bond with any kind animal.

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