In Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs (Celadon, April 21), New York Times opinion columnist and trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the phases of her life, from childhood and adolescence to the present, through the lens of the dogs she has had—their impact on her concept of herself and of what it means to love and be loved in the world. 

Kirkus Reviews calls the book “powerfully therapeutic,” offering “intimate and insightful glimpses into Boylan’s life.”

Good Boy begins with Playboy, an incorrigible Dalmatian, and ends with Boylan’s current dog, Ranger. These dogs saw her through her boyhood and adolescence, and later, through her transition and the many years of her partnership with her wife.

In this video interview, Boylan discusses how her dogs have made inappropriate advances on the legs of family members and eaten entire sacks of flour, leaving ghostly pawprints on kitchen countertops. She recalls the face of her dog Lucy when Boylan first came down the stairs dressed as a woman. It was a reaction first of confusion and then, quickly, of recognition—a recognition that, Boylan notes, she wishes had been more readily available to the human beings in her life. She describes learning something about love and loss from each of her dogs—and from all of them, learning the ultimately fleeting nature of love for a pet, and the appreciation that necessitates.

Jennifer Finney Boylan is the bestselling author of She’s Not There and 15 other books. She is a trustee of PEN America and has served as co-chair of GLAAD’s National Board of Directors. She is currently the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College, where she teaches creative writing.