An advertising executive and screenwriter sets out on a path to self-discovery and personal fulfillment by participating in dog agility training.
Throughout the challenges of being a single mother, starting her own business and negotiating a rocky romance, Quinn has had one constant: her love for dogs. When she decided to introduce her Rhodesian ridgebacks, Nairobi and Sheila, to the demanding world of agility training, however, she received much more than she expected, including scathing reprimands from her Eastern European trainer, Irina, and humbling encounters with failure, both on and off the field. As she trained Nairobi and Sheila to turn, run and jump at her command, she also reevaluated her own well-worn responses to stress and chose instead to live in the moment with the same contentment that her dogs exuded. Much of the book has a kind of “Zen and the Art of Dog Training” vibe, which will likely appeal most to readers who enjoy inspirational literature—whether they love dogs or not—but Quinn’s enthusiasm for the prosaic subject matter (detailed depictions of dog-walking abound) elevates her memoir above the realm of saccharine self-help. Her tone conveys a sincere desire to share her new outlook with others, especially those who “have a tentative connection with life” rather than feeling fully connected to it. Many readers will empathize with her struggle to end a self-destructive relationship with her boyfriend, as well as find comfort in the commandments listed in the chapter titled “The Way of the Dog.” Lively photographs of the ridgebacks on the training course punctuate the text, while a supplementary list of resources devoted to agility training will prove useful for canine enthusiasts as they explore the possibility of engaging their own pets in this sport.
Despite some repetitive moments, this uplifting memoir encourages reflection and goal-setting, all within the ever-popular narrative framework of the human-dog bond.