The author, a Portland-based chiropractor and acupuncturist, writes about his healing relationship with a rescue dog.
Greenbaum (The Road to Peace Runs Through the Valley of Death, 2016, etc.) not only knows dogs; he knows how to write about them. Specifically, about his relationship with Dobie, a Rottweiler/Doberman mix. “Vicious,” as Dobie is originally named, is a badly neglected, 5-month-old pup foisted on the author by a friend. Not only was he not looking for a new dog, he certainly wasn’t looking for this one. “I had no desire for a Doberman, as they tend to be high-strung and hyper-nervous,” he writes. “I like the earthy, happy-go-lucky personalities of hunting dogs.” Heeding some unknowable inner voice, Greenbaum adopts her. Dobie’s physical problems (malnutrition, etc.) are easily fixed; not so her emotional scars. But one day, as he watches her sleep, “a strange, unfamiliar sentiment moved in my breast. It was that wordless contract a parent makes when he gazes upon his sleeping baby….I made a vow to care for her for the rest of her life.” That life is long, but as is true of all dogs, not long enough. Greenbaum recounts many of their adventures—nothing earth-shattering, just the usual stuff about hikes, a cross-country move, people coming in and out of their lives, etc. All too soon, he is writing about the aging Dobie, the trips to the vet, the final terrible, inevitable decision to put her down. Still, what the book is mostly about is affirmation—affirmation of that ineffable bond between humans and animals. Greenbaum readily acknowledges the widely held notion that people love pets because they provide unconditional love. But even more important, he notes, is the absolute need we humans have to give love: “Without even knowing there was a lesson, she taught that the exchange of love is the true joy and purpose of living.” This is a slim, unpretentious book that will have a hard time finding a place in an already overcrowded genre. But bred-in-the-bone (so to speak) dog people will find it worth seeking out.
A lovely and loving tribute to a special dog and, by extension, to all special dogs. And what dog isn’t?