Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

Knapp, Caroline

Published by Thorndike Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 078621726X / ISBN 13: 9780786217267
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Synopsis: At the age of 36, Caroline Knapp, author of the acclaimed bestseller Drinking:A Love Story, found herself confronted with a monumental task: redefining her world.  She had faced the loss of both her parents, given up a twenty-year relationship with alcohol, and, as she writes, "I was wandering around in a haze of uncertainty, blinking up at the biggest questions: Who am I without parents and without alcohol? How to form attachments, and where to find comfort, in the face of such daunting vulnerability?"  An answer materialized in the most unlikely form: that of a dog.  Eighteen months to the day after she quit drinking, Knapp stumbled upon an eight-week-old puppy at a local animal shelter, took her home, and named her Lucille.  Now two years old, Lucille has become a central force in Knapp's life: "In her," she writes,  "I have found solace, joy, a bridge to the world."

Caroline Knapp has been celebrated as much for her fresh insight into emotional and psychological issues as she has been for her gifts as a writer.  In Pack of Two, she brings the same perception and talent to bear on the rich, complicated terrain of human-animal relationships.  In addition to mining her own experience with Lucille, Knapp speaks to a wide variety of dog people--from animal behaviorists and psychologists to other owners whose dogs have deeply affected their lives--about this emotionally complex, sometimes daunting, often profoundly healing alliance.  Throughout, she explores the shift in canine roles from working partners to intimate companions and looks, too, at how this new kinship, this wordless bond, becomes a template for what we most desire ourselves.

Review: Caroline Knapp is head over heels in love--not with a human being, but with her mixed-breed dog, Lucille. From the moment Lucille first locked eyes with Knapp through the bars of an animal shelter cage, the intelligent, pointy-eared mutt began to transform Knapp's life. Reeling from the deaths of both her parents, a breakup with a long-term boyfriend, and her newly won sobriety after a 20-year battle with the bottle (which was skillfully chronicled in a previous memoir, Drinking: A Love Story), Knapp found in Lucille not only companionship, but "consistency, continuity, connection. In a word, love." Although she doesn't regard Lucille as a replacement for alcohol and lost loved ones, Knapp does believe "that in loving her I have had that sense of being filled anew and essentially redirected, an old identity shattered and a new one emerging in its stead." In Pack of Two Knapp, with the help of dog psychiatrists, trainers, breeders, and owners, explores the partnership between human and dog and the mysteries of the canine mind--how dogs love, how they think, and how they see human beings. And despite her findings that the dog will remain essentially "mysterious ... unknowable," Knapp is ultimately at peace with this, still devouring the moments when dog and human can "transcend the language barrier" to "understand what the other wants and feels." This book pays homage to the wonderful and complex relationship between one woman and her dog. --Naomi Gesinger

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Title: Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between ...
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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