A 20-something’s memoir about the English mastiff that became her “best friend [and] so much more.”
Watt was a college sophomore when her mother took her to shop for a dog. Though “we promised ourselves we were just going to look,” by the time they drove home, they had bought an English mastiff puppy the author named Gizelle. She knew that the dog was intended to partially make up for her mother’s alcoholism, but she could not stop herself from falling in love with Gizelle, nor could she stop hoping that the dog was a sign that her “best friend” of a mother would finally get sober. Watt eventually took the dog to live with her while she attended the University of Tennessee, where Gizelle became her 160-pound running partner and protector. At 23, the desire to live in a place that was more “energetic, gritty [and] cosmopolitan” took Watt from Knoxville to Manhattan. After securing a small apartment, she took in Gizelle, whose size earned her names like “Cujo” and “Godzilla.” Watt then began working her way up from waitress to public relations assistant and found companionship with a good but dull man who never offered the same emotional satisfaction as Gizelle. As she watched her mother slip away from her and deeper into addiction, Watt discovered that her dog had bone cancer. Determined to make the remaining days of her canine best friend’s life count, she created a “bucket list” of all the things she wanted to experience with her dog before she died—e.g., riding in a boat together or “watch[ing] the snow fall on the beach.” As much a story about growing up as about letting go of things that cannot be changed, Watt’s book is also a reminder of the profound healing connection that can exist between humans and the pets they love.
A tender, heartfelt story.