Monday, June 16, 2008

Dog Years by Mark Doty

I decided to go ahead and read this book even though I knew without a doubt that it would make me cry. It is a memoir about a man and his dogs, and how they help him through the death of his partner, and how he lives through their deaths in the years following. They are beautiful dogs, retrievers, golden and black, Beau and Arden. They are described with love, through a poet's eyes.
Beau and Arden help Doty to survive the death of his partner, and they give him hope for the future. But they, too, will become sick and eventually die, Beau sooner than later. It is heartbreaking to read of the profound depression that overtakes Doty when he realizes how sick Beau is. This time, he pulls through the death again with the help of Arden, and his current partner. Reading about the tenderness that attends each death was difficult for me. Even though Kitty died over a year ago now, it is still difficult for me, and I wasn't even beside her as she passed. She wanted to be alone, but after reading this book, I almost wish I had stayed with her. Dogs are not solitary as cats are, however, so I suppose it is different.
As sad as this book is, it is a lovely story about dogs and their humans. For those of us that have dogs, it is enjoyable to read descriptions of their mischievous behavior, that we recognize so well. And their intense loyalty and love for their humans is magical. Dogs are wonderful friends, and this book is worth the sadness for anyone who loves them.

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