More than a hauntingly beautiful memoir about small dogs in Big Sky country, this book is a wise account of the relationships among dogs, humans, and the land that surrounds them. It is the story of successive generations of Jack Russell terriers, their animal friends, and their human companions. Alston Chase searches for the immortality of dogs, what makes them unique companions, and why we humans willingly give them our hearts knowing that someday they will be broken. This book will resonate with anyone who has ever loved a dog.
Chase muses that dogs are the embodiment of spirit over mortality and through the window of their brief lives we glimpse eternity. This eternal includes the Earth, the land, and the bonds forged between people and dogs over thousands of years. Chase sees threats in the decline of rural life, unbridled urbanization, and in dog breeders who judge by conformation to breed standards and fashion rather than ability and health.
An uplifting tribute to the dogs we love, and a reflection on the limitations of life, this book shows a triumph of the spirit. Rich in poetic citations, it is an environmental cry for help, a naturalistic appreciation of a dissolving world, and a deeply spiritual reminder that nothing loved is ever lost.
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Alston Chase has written widely on natural history, the environment, and animal welfare. He is the author of Playing God in Yellowstone, In a Dark Wood, and Harvard and the Unabomber.Review:
“Whatever your interest in Jack Russels—hunting, trailing, companion—you are sure to enjoy this book. It is absolutely wonderful!. . . . Alston’s great style of writing will make you feel that you knew each and every one of those little dogs. . . his first Phinneas, and his favorite Ifrit, along with many others. You will grieve for them along with him. . . . [T]his is a book I will treasure and read many times over. I encourage all of you to add this one to your library—you will love it!”
—Terri Batzer, True Grit
“[R]eading Alston Chase’s new book, We Give Our Hearts to Dogs to Tear, was a cathartic experience.”
—Ronald F. Maxwell, Chronicles
“Perfect title for a book; and, indeed, that book turned up, lent to us by a friend. . . . [T]he story, warmly and philosophically told, of a family and their dogs over a period of 30 years, and it asks—and answers—the question, “Why do dogs have such power over us?”. . . . We will return this moving and thought-provoking book to our friend, and we recommend it to you.”
—Ann LaFarge, Puppy Love
“We Give Our Hearts to Dogs to Tear: Intimations of Their Immorality is a thirty-year love story between humans and their animal companions, Jack Russell terriers, and tells of the authors’ search for the immortality of dogs and what makes them special. First-person accounts of his dogs blends with philosophical reflection in a memoir which is warm and fuzzy.”
"[An] altogether engrossing book . . . a wonderful book . . . exceedingly well written and, for me, more powerful than any of the other excellent books of yours that I have read."
—Robert H. Greenwood, The Greenwood Company
"We Give our Hearts to Dogs to Tear is more than a memoir about small dogs in Big Sky country, however; it is a book about an adventurous life, an intrepid wife, and the passing of the baton from a generation to another. What lasts? Chase's surprising answer is a simple one: Nothing loved is ever lost."
—Patrick Burns, author of American Working Terriers
"[Alston Chase] may have written one of the great dog books of our time. "Hearts" is simultaneously a memoir of his decades spent in Paradise Valley, where, before the movie stars arrived, making a phone call could be a three-day affair, and a well-informed rumination on wilderness land use. Mathematician, philosopher, outdoorsman, and amateur economist, Chase addresses many difficult subjects here, in a direct, yes, Thoreauvian prose style. In a chapter titled 'The Soul of a Dog,' he asks, 'Was not the immortality of dogs at least a possibility?' If you care about the answer to that question, read this book."
—Alex Beam, The International Herald Tribune
"This may well be the most beautiful and richest book about dogs ever penned."
—Richard S. Wheeler, Winner, Owen Wister Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature
"If you haven't read it, get yourself a copy of Alston Chase, We Give Our Hearts to Dogs to Tear: Intimations of their Immortality (Transaction Publishers, 2008). You will laugh, you will cry, and you'll remember again why you gave your heart to JRs. This book's a keeper!"
—Joseph Harvill, Great Scots Magazine
"We Give our Hearts to Dogs to Tear is a fantastic piece of work. I could not put it down. I pray and hope that many will read this wonderful book to understand better the true character of our terriers, and what is happening to our environment."
—Ailsa Crawford, Founder and President Emeritus, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America
"We Give our Hearts to Dogs to Tear is a poignant, wise account of dogs, men, the land they inhabit which inhabits them."
—Donald McCaig, author of Nop's Trials, Jacob's Ladder & Rhett Butler's People
"We Give our Hearts to Dogs to Tear, the story of Alston and Diana Chase's thirty year adventure with successive generations of Jack Russell terriers in Montana, is a thinking person's dog book. Funny, sad, charming and profound, it will resonate with anyone who has ever loved and lost a dog."
—Tim Cahill, author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, Lost in my Own Backyard and Hold the Enlightenment
"The author is Alston Chase, one of the more interesting and reflective writers about nature and the wilderness . . . I really like his book . . . Among the delights of the book are the snippets of poetry and prose Alston has used as chapter epigraphs."
—John Derbyshire, National Review Online
"Like the Jack Russell terriers who animate its pages, this book will steal your heart, tear it up—and somehow manage to mend it, too."
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig
"Alston Chase's book provides much to consider about the triumph of spirit over death, of the immortality of the soul, even of a dog."
—Elana Winsberg, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“An extraordinary, lyrical, heartfelt, loving, poetic, narrative of some of the dogs in the lives of author Alston Chase and his wife Diane. This is a book that deserves to be savored, then repeatedly reread at intervals. Author Chase is equally at home with his dogs, wildlife, and the land he loves. I think his quote above encapsulates it all. Yes, our animals may not live forever; but the joy they bring while still beside us!”
— Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes, Mallory Heart Reviews
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Book Description Transaction Publishers, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P111412807794
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97814128077911.0
Book Description Transaction Publishers. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1412807794 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0688812
Book Description Transaction Publishers, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1412807794