The story of the Dalmatians that filled a woman’s life.
Anyone who has owned a dog knows the special place that animals can hold in the heart. For Sexton (Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton, 2011, etc.), Dalmatians had always been the choice for family dog, from the first one, Penny, to the most recent, Cody. As the author eloquently portrays, no other breed suited the Sexton family as well. “How was it possible to love, so relentlessly, this single, particular breed, one often described with words like neurotic, nervous, hyper, skitzy, over-excitable, snappish, and downright nasty?” she writes. “…We had always rooted for the underdog, perhaps because we were underdogs ourselves, crippled by the shadow of my mother’s continuing mental illness.” Despite a stint of dogless years at the beginning of her marriage, for most of her life, Sexton has been surrounded by at least one Dalmatian. She highlights each dog in her life as she recounts how she learned to show them, to breed them and to love them unconditionally, despite the dogs that fought each other, chased cars or had the wrong markings for a champion. Her devotion to her dogs is evident throughout as she narrates emergency runs to the vet for mushroom or chocolate poisoning or the extra-special care she provided for her laboring bitches. And the dogs returned her love, giving emotional support when Sexton’s depression went into high gear or when a number of friends, over a period of years, contracted different kinds of cancer and eventually died. The bond between an animal and a human can be extremely strong, and Sexton proves this without a doubt.
A heartfelt testimony about the importance of dogs, especially Dalmatians, in one woman’s life.