Good Dog. Stay. is a short book of sentimental reflections about the relationships between dogs and their human families and how families face the inevitable end-of-life decisions of their beloved pets. Dog lovers will undoubtedly identify with Quindlen’s observations about a dog’s role in family life. She includes many photographs of dogs with happy expressions and soulful eyes, and all readers will recognize the unconditional love that is represented in these faces.
I enjoyed reading this book because, although the author doesn’t express many original ideas about owning a pet, this part of her message is a nice warm one. For example, she remarks about the ability of dogs to wag their tails even when they are old and sick, how simple pleasures make them happy even at the end of their lives. Quindlen also discusses the important role dogs play in people’s lives. “The job so many dogs really perform is to allow us to project our feelings upon them, to assume they are excited or downhearted or lonely when we are.” In addition, like a best friend, they offer “companionship without question or criticism.”
Quindlen also raises a nice point about how the paths of our lives and those of our children are uncertain, but the life of a dog is without mystery. “With few exceptions, he will be who he has always been. His routine will be unvarying and his pleasures will be predictable – a pond, a squirrel, a bone, a nap in the sun.” True!
I think the author’s main objective in writing Good Dog. Stay., however, is to state her opinion about end-of-life decisions, for dogs and humans. She writes, “With people, it’s assumed you’ll do everything; with animals you have the luxury of doing the right thing.” She wishes it were the same for people. After a difficult decision to put down their dog, Beau, she writes, “I was almost exultant at the love we had managed to muster for that old dog, and at the thought that someday, if I was very, very lucky, I might have a death as simple and serene as this one, with these same people around me.” So in the end, Quindlen has written a simple book and inserted her own opinion about a controversial issue.
All in all, this is a very quick read with both light and heavy ideas.
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