A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog is the most compelling dog story I have read. Well, duh, you might say–it’s by Dean Koontz. Actually, I almost didn’t download it onto my Kindle because of that. What I knew of him was that he wrote in a genre I avoided.
I don’t read much fiction–as my father was science fiction writer Cordwainer Smith (link to my site about him), I grew up hearing more than a lifetime’s worth of scary tales. So I had never read a word by Koontz, an extraordinarily prolific and popular author, because I thought his stuff was too horror-filled for me.
But Amazon has this useful–or tricky–feature where you can download a selection from the start of a book onto your Kindle. So I figured that I could look at the first chapter. That word “Joyful” in the title kinda hooked me. So I read the first chapter, and then on a Kindle, you can just click to buy the book and download the rest immediately. Without a moment’s thought, I did.
I was immersed for hours in the story of how Dean Koontz and his wife Gerda had been so hardworking for so many years that they had never had a dog or a child. But they both loved dogs, and evidently dogs feature in many of his novels. They had been deeply involved in supporting Canine Companions for Independence, which trains and provides service dogs at no cost to kids and adults with disabilities, and they had good friends in the organization. So they mentioned to one of their friends there that they were about ready to get a dog.
She found them Trixie, who had been a service dog but had needed surgery for a bad elbow and couldn’t go back to the person she had been assisting because of regulations about the health of service dogs.
Trixie changed their lives. In SO many ways. I’m not going to tell you any of the stories… Koontz does that so incredibly well. I did cry… several times.
I will comment that it was a tremendous pleasure to read some of the passages, here and there through the book, where he talks about how Trixie was to him and his wife a manifestation of the Divine. Here is one such bit:
I believe that Trixie, in addition to being a dog and a child and an inspiration and a revelation, was also a quiet theophany, a subtle manifestation of God, for by her innocent joy and by her actions in my life, she lifted from me all doubts of the sacred nature of our existence.
(can’t quote a page because Kindles don’t show them but it is at 88%)
That captures so well what brings me back to dogs again and again. If that point is not your cup of tea, I think you’d still like the book.
Trixie has her own part of her dad’s website: Trixie Koontz.
Click on the image to go to Amazon, where you can get it for the Kindle, as a hardback, as a paperback, or as an audiobook. Highly recommended!