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Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself Hardcover – October 18, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

A conversation between Julie Klam, and J. Courtney Sullivan, best-selling author of Maine and Commencement.

Julie Klam

Sullivan: One of my favorite parts of Love at First Bark is when you’re searching for an injured stray puppy in New Orleans and ask yourself a series of questions about how far you’d go to save a dog, which culminates with your jumping under a train to get the puppy. To date, is this the farthest you’ve gone?

Klam: It’s the farthest I’ve gone physically. Mentally, I’ve gone much further . . .totally off the deep end . . .on more than one occasion.

Sullivan: How many dogs do you have now? And how do they help or hurt your writing life? I love having my dog curled up under my desk while I’m working, but he always seems to want to go outside and play just as I’m reaching a critical moment in a scene.

Klam: I had four until last week, when we adopted out a foster. I would say, since I’ve written two books on my dog relationships, they help me quite a bit. In fact, Fiorello actually does a fair bit of copyediting. And Beatrice has consulted on all the dog dialogue. She frequently tells me, “A dog would never say that!” Or “No way--too human!”

Sullivan: I’ve only been a dog owner for nine months. One of the things that has surprised me the most is the way that our neighborhood has suddenly opened up to us—we know so many more people, and they all know us. (They may not know our names, but they know Landon’s!) Have you experienced the same thing? What is it about dogs that brings this out in people?

Klam: I wrote in my first book that when I got my dog Otto, I suddenly developed dog vision—I think the same thing happened when I was pregnant When something is suddenly appearing in your life, you relate to it everywhere. The thing about dogs is that, in most cases, they don’t just walk by a dog on the street. They stop and sniff and maybe play. They are far less boundary- obsessed than we are. I think we can stand behind our dogs, saying hello to other dogs, and be just slightly a part of it. I bring the dogs into the dog run, and they run over and join in the games and bark at a Boxer and chase a Lab. I’ve tried to incorporate that into my own life. When I go to parties now, the first thing I do is sniff the host’s butt, and then I’ll just start chasing the guests.

Sullivan: This is your second book about your relationship with dogs. Do you get flooded all the time with dog-related questions from readers and people you know, the way doctors have people asking for medical advice at backyard barbecues? I confess that when it comes to dog stuff, I often ask myself, WWJD: What Would Julie Do? Any particularly interesting requests or questions that you’ve gotten?

Klam: I get loads of questions—mostly about training issues, and I do try to remind people that I have the worst dogs on the planet. I’ve gotten many heartbreaking questions, too, about the timing in ending a dog’s life. It’s a terrible place many pet owners have to go to, and in those cases, I just say you do the best you can and it’s okay.

 J. Courtney Sullivan

Sullivan: Earlier this year, there was a big kerfuffle in the news about allowing dogs to sleep in bed with you--a study found that it could lead you to get the plague, among other things. I do it anyway. WWJD?

Klam: The real secret of why I became an author is that I get to occasionally travel to places alone and sleep by myself in a bed. It’s remarkable. There’s no hair or sticks or ticks. If I eat in the bed, I don’t have to share. The floor is dry because no one has decided that morning is too long to wait to go out. . . .What was the question?

Sullivan: In the book, you talk a bit about using Twitter to get the word out about dogs in need. How has online social networking helped change the landscape of rescue work?

Klam: Oh, it’s HUGE! I compared it to the Twilight Bark in 101 Dalmations. I am constantly hearing about dogs in danger all across the country, and I can post about them and have a very caring national audience respond. A woman posted on my Facebook page that her parents had found an abandoned Boston terrier in Texas and no rescues had room for it. Someone else on the page worked with rescue in Texas and was able to help her (in the end, her parents kept the dog . . .which is the best thing ever).

(Photo of Julie Klam © Sarah Shatz)


"Julie Klam is like Proust, if he wrote about dogs instead of madeleines, wrote English instead of French, had better hair-and wrote exceptionally hilarious books that you can't help reading all at once."
-Patricia Marx

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1St Edition edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488282
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488283
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Julie Klam grew up in Bedford, New York. After attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and interning at Late Night with David Letterman, she went on to write for such publications as O: The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, Redbook, Family Circle, and The New York Times Magazine and for the VH1 television show Pop-Up Video, where she earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Class Writing. She lives in Manhattan with her daughter, dogs, and Dan.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By alldayReader on October 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In her latest book, Love At First Bark, Klam offers more doggie tales with profound insights into why we humans need the companionship of our four-legged friends. Human-animal relationships help us with our human-human relationships, by allowing us to see what we humans are capable of (generosity, caring, risk-taking) and by the examples set by animals of how much more wecould be capable of (unconditional love, boundless energy, housetraining). Her book You Had Me at Woof was wonderful, and Love at First Bark is a great follow-up.

Klam falls in love with just about every dog she meets and I have no doubt they fall in love right back. I am lucky enough to have met Klam and in person she is every bit as warm, funny, and just a little bit nuts as she is on paper. I finished up reading Love At First Bark last night before going to bed and when I woke up this morning, I felt good; I was energized and positive and ready to go. That a book about dog rescuing, from the troubled streets of Upper Manhattan to the desolation of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, can make a person feel hopeful about life says a lot about Julie Klam, and also about the bond between animals and humans, a source of sustenance that goes both ways and that cannot be denied.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Killen-Courtney VINE VOICE on January 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading about animals since I could read, I think. I love books that share the connection we can make with animals, a writer that can show me that through that connection they understand, they "get it" about what the animal may be feeling and going through. Julie Klam is not one of those writers. After finishing this little book I knew exactly what Julie was going through at every moment, whether she was wearing the proper shoes for the rescue she was doing, etc. and it just wasn't as interesting to me as what the dogs were feeling. The worst example of her obliviousness has to be when she and her husband were driving the pitbull they'd rescued one hot summer day, fed about a gallon of water to along with 3 cans of Alpo dog food (she admits knowing that wasn't good for him,) all the way to CT from NYC and never let it out once to relieve itself. Well o.k. they were enjoying this togetherness and patching holes in their foundering marriage, and I'm happy for that, but to not once consider the needs of the dog?! It floors me. Then I'm supposed to enjoy the humor about how long this poor animal urinates once it is allowed to when they arrive at the rescue woman's home. It says a lot about some pretty colossal insensitivity, and inadvertently also speaks volumes about how good the pitbull dog is, this is so typical of them to try so hard to do the right thing for people, even the clueless. I am truly grateful that they got him to a rescue though.

Overall, I kept waiting for something to click with me and this book, but it just never did for me. I've been thinking about it since I finished it. Is it maybe that she is primarily a comedic writer, that she never touches on those deeper levels of feeling? Can't be sure. I feel she is quite sincere in her commitment to animal rescue I just don't think she writes about it very well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By on January 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I am the proud parent of two rescue dogs and to read this book just solidified why I rescue instead of buy dogs. I found her humor appropriate and I thought that her wide range of stories was perfect for all to relate too. If you have a rescue dog in your family, read this book to help know there are others out there who do an amazing job to save as many furbabies as possible. Thank you Julie for an amazing read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elena Rogan on February 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Julie Klam's books have inspired me to go out of my way to help homeless dogs and cats. She amazes me at the good she and her family does for the dogs she foster, places in home and the dogs that make her home their "fur"ever home. Even though she lives in apartment in New York City with 3 dogs and her husband and daugter, she still works tirelessly for those little furry souls that are abandoned, abused, and considered unadoptable. She makes amazing contacts and acquires great resources throughout the country and shows how just a few people can make a huge difference. Since reading her books, I have rescued, adopted, fostered and placed in "fur"ever homes 9 dogs and counting. Everyday I think of what else I can do to make a difference and save the dogs that save me everyday.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anne Louise Hanson on January 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a touching, thoughtful, well written book. For all animal lovers, a must read! Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Wong VINE VOICE on November 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I loved this little book. The author, Julie Klam writes engagingly so it is so difficult to lay this book down. It was almost like having her sit beside you and tell the three stories. I love stories about animal rescues and feel so bad for the animals in tough situations like they are in this book. Julie Klam does animal rescue in addition to her regular job, is married and has one daughter and four dogs at home.

The first one is about finding Morris. He has got to be the most lovable pit bull in the world! He licks, he sings, he cuddles. Someone left him tied up on a street in New York to fend for himself with food or water. The title of this chapter is "Morris the Pit Bull, Couples Therapist". This is my favorite chapter and I will never forget what happened, what Morris was like and what he did for Julie and her husband besides the couple's devotion to him that long harrowing day.

The second part of the book is about Clementine, a dog who was said to have a malabsortion problem and was fecally incompetent. Although, Julie shies away from problems of this nature, she immediately wanted to help out Clementine. Read the story of this little endearing dog.

The last part of this book is Julie's experiences in the New Orleans animal rescue program after Katrina. I have read one part of the story before and when I was reading this part, the whole thing connected. This is a true story that is now part of the legends of New Orleans. This is the tale of Jarhead. If you haven't heard of this before, be prepared to be amused, very sad and mad all with the reading of this story.

I recommend this book to everyone who love to rescue animals and all who love dogs.
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