Some of the best friends I’ve ever had were dogs. That admission might seem extreme, but, hey, I’ve written a novel called DOG CRAZY! There’s really no hiding the truth about my feelings for the dogs I’ve loved and lost.
Dogs have had supporting roles in each of my books, so really it was only a matter of time before I devoted an entire novel to the dog-human bond. Since loving a dog and losing a dog are, sadly, inevitably linked, I decided to write the novel from the perspective of a pet bereavement counselor. As research, I met with a grief therapist who specializes in pet bereavement. She explained that many of her patients don’t feel comfortable openly grieving for a pet; many are embarrassed that the loss of a pet could cause such pain, and fear that others won’t understand or sympathize. Pet bereavement counselors offer their patients a safe and accepting environment in which to mourn, free of shame or embarrassment. A counseling session often becomes, I’m told, a time in which to celebrate the life of a pet and the wonderful, life-changing relationship of pet and owner.
In DOG CRAZY, the protagonist, Maggie, is a great dog lover. She calls her dog, Toby, her “dog soul mate.” While DOG CRAZY is a work of fiction, I based Maggie’s dog on my own beloved, departed dog, Oe (who was, may I add, as handsome and clever and funny a dog as there ever was). Oe entered my life when I was a senior in high school, and when I graduated I took him with me to college in New Hampshire. He spent many summers with me in Avalon, New Jersey, the setting for my second novel, ALL THE SUMMER GIRLS. After college, we moved to New York together. Later, Chicago. And finally, after I married a man who was raised in the Bay Area, Oe and I drove to San Francisco, where at last—after spending so many formative years together—my four-legged best friend left me to travel on without him.
As it turned out, the experience of writing DOG CRAZY was a bit like an extended pet bereavement counseling session. I celebrated Oe’s life and our wonderful friendship by writing him into Toby. I’ll never really say goodbye to Oe, but writing the book allowed me to commemorate his life and all that he meant to me, and to write with humor and respect about the dog-human bond.
It is my great hope that this story will inspire readers to think about the pets they love and have loved, and that the time they spend reading this book will be, in a way, time spent celebrating the animal companions that mean so much to us. Though, yes, there is sadness in DOG CRAZY, above all else it is an uplifting tale of the power of dogs and the healing balm of new love, and a celebration of the joyful, generous spirit that exists in animals and humans alike. I look forward to sharing it with all of you.
DOG CRAZY is on sale now! You can buy it in paperback or e-book here.