A memoir focuses on a woman’s almost eight-year relationship with a small dachshund.
Lir (Moments of Introverted Outbursts, 2017, etc.) recalls early on in the narrative that she was 10 years old when she finally convinced her mother to let her have a dog. Within a few months, a neighbor’s pooch had a small litter. The author picked out a furry female puppy and named her Cindy. They were together for three years until a move to a complex that wouldn’t allow Cindy led to Lir’s giving her up. The author worried about her for almost two decades, until she reached her 30s. But she promised herself to one day “pick up where Cindy” and she “left off.” She would look for a small rescue dog that she could keep for the rest of its life. Several years later, Darwin, a purebred dachshund with behavioral issues, appeared in a TV-news adoption event. He had already experienced two failed adoptions. “He doesn’t need a dachshund person,” the man who ran the event later explained to Lir. “He needs the right person. He needs a protector.” It turned out to be a perfect match. The spunky little brown pooch adored her, and the author worked assiduously to let him know he was safe, understood, and loved. Like many pet parents, she was highly tuned to Darwin’s body language and vocalizations, which she amusingly translates into human-speak. After a battle of wills, Darwin would sit up, his long back vertical and ramrod straight, his eyes staring intensely: “Hmmm? Yeah? We good again?” Lir’s reflections include dozens of anecdotes about the pair’s mistakes, negotiations, and triumphs, but even more prevalent are the author’s frequent mental meanderings as she labored to decode Darwin’s inner world. Lengthy, almost full-page paragraphs are engaging but would benefit from judicious editing. And the pleasant conversational tone of the prose is occasionally marred by grammatical errors (“This will be a pattern him and I follow”). An inevitably sad final chapter (tissues advised) notwithstanding, this touching story is an enjoyable and loving tribute to a devoted best friend.
A wordy but charming and solid tale of human-canine bonding.