In his debut memoir, former book editor Breslin writes about the death of his cherished dog, Miss Dutchie, and how, with her help, he succeeded in overcoming alcoholism.
While not a dog-lover himself, in 1994 he bought Dutchie sight-unseen, as a surprise birthday gift for his wife. However, he freely admits that his motives were not entirely pure. “I got Miss Dutchie to get Lynn off my back about my drinking,” he writes. Breslin had recently quit a decades-long career in publishing in an attempt to write a novel, and he did not expect to be spending his valuable time with a dog. As it turned out, the day he brought Dutchie home his unsuspecting wife was out of town for several days and he was left on his own to care for the needy puppy, who desperately clung to him, barked incessantly and chewed his fingers. It was the beginning of a 12-year love affair that only ended with Dutchie's death. The story revolves around the dog who became the center of the childless couple's life, but the author also writes affectingly about his efforts to overcome addiction to alcohol and nicotine, to gain control of bouts of irrational anger and put behind him several psychotic episodes that he had experienced in the past. Breslin examines how having a demanding, playful, lavishly affectionate dog as part of his life freed him to overcome his demons and allowed him to express love more easily. Another important theme is how his long-term involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous—along with the gentle prodding of his wife and the aversion shown by his dog when he was drunk—helped him on the road to recovery. After two year of grieving, Breslin and his wife adopted a rescue dog whom they named Sadie. “Compared to Miss Dutchie's regal princess,” he writes, “Sadie was a hellacious rascal.”
A moving story of love, death and recovery.