Living with six family pets over 30 years inspired this nonfiction book about the trials and joys of dog ownership.
In 1973, Jupiter and her husband acquired their first dog, an Irish setter they called Lance. It went so well that the young couple brought another pup home one year later. Four English springer spaniels and two children followed, giving the author plenty of firsthand knowledge to impart about caring for family pets. In the title chapter, she recounts how she capitalized on an unintentional side effect of raising a messy, mischievous puppy: She turned the physically exhausting process into a calculated weight-loss regime. But this book isn’t about dieting. Instead, it’s a thorough depiction of dog ownership from the perspective of a candid matriarch. Jupiter describes how she trained her dogs to use an invisible fence, relates favorite games and tricks, and elaborates on topics such as health care, grooming, and rearing children and multiple pets together. The tone isn’t instructional, however; it reads like a memoir, with specific anecdotes and nostalgic portraits of each of her dogs. It’s hard not to smile when Jupiter decides not to cancel the morning newspaper delivery because Tory the dog enjoys retrieving it so much. The book is divided up by topic—dogs in bed, chow time, doggy empty nest—instead of chronology, which can make it difficult to keep track of each dog’s backstory, sometimes resulting in the same stories being told several times throughout the book. Writing in a forthright, conversational voice, and clearly a devoted dog lover, Jupiter doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. She covers expenses, training mishaps and the heartbreak of saying goodbye to a pet. Often, in fact, there’s too much detail, as with the eight pages dedicated to one dog’s bed-wetting problem. While episodes such as this don’t make for an exciting literary adventure, the scrupulous explanations may be educationally valuable to readers who are considering adding a dog to their own families.
An anecdote-heavy manual appropriate for new or potential dog owners.