Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review Small Dog Big Life by Dennis Fried


Small Dog Big Life: Memoirs of a Furry Genius by Dennis Fried, is an unusual book. It is the story of Genevieve, a Papillon, who has placed her memoirs down on paper for the world to read. What is a Papillon, you ask? A dog who walks low to the ground and has ears which reminds anyone who sees them of a butterfly. In fact, the word "Papillion" is French for butterfly.

Genevieve is quite the clever canine! She knows she has a story to get out but knows she cannot do the job on her own. Enter Dennis Fried, to whom Genevieve barktates the story of her life along with a few tips on living life to the utmost. Why wait until death to introduce others to just how great she really is?

The logical place is to begin at the beginning. Born to Chloe, Genevieve is one of many in a litter. December 19, 1997, to be exact. A couple of her siblings were actually half relations, but they are all raised together until ready for adoption elsewhere. To make this a true menagerie, a cat is added into the mix. I have to appreciate the biting wit as this strange creature is distinguished from the dogs by being too ugly for membership in the canine variety.

Some background is also provided as to the background of Dennis and Katrina, Genevieve's new family. While each grows up with a dog, their histories could not be any more different. Dennis gets his heart broken by a significant loss and vows never to repeat the experience. Katrina, on the other hand, has always had a dog around. She quite reasonably expects this to continue upon her marriage to Dennis. It will not surprise anyone that there is a brewing clash ahead. Suffice it to say the resolution of the conflict is well worth the read.

While this has twenty chapters, this book is an easy read. A few of the chapters are laugh-out-loud funny. For example, "Dog and Driver" is a step-by-step lesson on the proper way for a dog to assist the human in maneuvering the vehicle. Waiting on the blinker to come on is a helpful signal for steerage. Put hind paws on the lap of human and front on the wheel itself. By shuffling one's paws, just the right amount of pressure is applied. Voila, task accomplished!

"Weather (or Not)" describes life in Florida as one rainstorm away from disaster. The best place to be is, obviously, the bathtub. Our doggie heroine hates rain with everything she's got. Therefore, she is far more likely to stay in the washing receptacle than somewhere else.

"Party Animal" is a celebration of Genevieve's first birthday. She would be completely oblivious to the significance except for one thing. Dennis and Katrina plan a surprise party for her at a store catering to dogs. Between the members of Genevieve's dog family and the humans, people abound. Leave it to a dog to appreciate a cake with liver in the icing. After cake and presents, games are then required. I have to wonder how in the world someone would think bobbing for cookies is enjoyable. After all, does anybody like soggy cookies? Musical chairs rounds out playtime.

"Paw Park Etiquette" is a cute chapter. The physical language of dogs takes on a new dimension as they interact with each other. After one confrontation, a local park creates a section just for smaller dogs. SUC's (sports utility canines) have to converse among themselves. Do you ever wonder if your dog has a personality of its own? Go to a dog park and see. Watch how they interact among others, if at all. Some are natural mixers; others stay aloof, far away from dogs and people.

For the most part, this is an entertaining read. The terms cute and quirky certainly fit. More than likely, though, there will be some who are not going to read this. They may not like small dogs and so picking up the autobiography is pointless. Others could be cat people. Fair enough. I suspect the numbers will be be decent with dog lovers.

Also published on Blogcritics.

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