Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Dog Narratives: The Puppy Diaries
Interested as I am in the genre, I picked up The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout while volunteering at my community's annual literacy fair--to which I had, ironically, forgotten to bring something to read. By the end of the day, I'd breezed through half the book--sympathizing with Abramson's trepidation over getting a new dog after the death of an old one and laughing with empathy at those first weeks of little sleep and lots of cuteness.
Truthfully, Abramson's book is half memoir and half "rich person's guide to raising a puppy in Manhattan." But this isn't a bad thing--especially as my wife and I contemplate moving to New York with our own pup. It does mean, however, that the narrative suffers in parts about the advantages of certain training styles and organic dog foods. And for a poor English-teacher-about-to-become-a-grad-student-again, some of it is just completely unrelatable, like training sessions with a bomb-sniffing dog instructor, or visits to a posh canine/human pool, or monthly trips to her country home where rambunctious Scout can run free to her heart's content.
None of this is to say that the book's bad. It's well-written and very well-researched; Abramson even includes a great annotated bibliography of not only the training and guide books she mentions but other dog narratives that served as inspiration. (I'll definitely be checking out EB White's essays about his dachshund Fred.) And in the end, she reminds us how precious that first puppy year with a new friend is.
Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?