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A Small Furry Prayer [Kindle Edition]

Steven Kotler
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (290 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Steven Kotler was forty years old, single, and facing an existential crisis when he met Lila, a woman devoted to animal rescue. "Love me, love my dogs" was her rule, and Steven took it to heart. Spurred to move by a housing crisis in Los Angeles, Steven, Lila, and their eight dogs-then ten, then twenty, and then they lost count-bought a postage-stamp-size farm in Chimayo, New Mexico. A Small Furry Prayer chronicles their adventures at Rancho de Chihuahua, the sanctuary they created for their special needs pack.

While dog rescue is one of the largest underground movements in America, it is also one of the least understood. An insider look at the "cult and culture" of dog rescue, A Small Furry Prayer weaves personal experience, cultural investigation, and scientific inquiry into a fast-paced, fun-filled narrative that explores what it means to devote one's life to the furry and the four-legged. Along the way, Kotler combs through every aspect of canine-human relations, from humans' long history with dogs through brand-new research into the neuroscience of canine companionship, in the end discovering why living in a world made of dog may be the best way to uncover the truth about what it really means to be human.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kotler is a journalist who dove into the world of dog rescue to impress his love interest, now his wife. He did not foresee adopting the least appealing, most troublesome dogs from shelters and living intimately with them until they either were rehabilitated and adopted by others or died in his lap. According to this part memoir and part philosophical study of the dog-human relationship, many of them died on the small farm that he and his wife bought in crime-ridden Chimayo, New Mexico, leaving him very depressed. From the heart-wrenching work, however, he began to find purpose and see how many canine experts have misunderstood dog behavior. Reflecting on the writings of mystics, philosophers, and animal scientists as varied as St. Francis, René Descartes, Claude Levi-Strauss, and Elizabeth Hess, Kotler elevates this tale about saving dogs to a story about human stewardship of life. Rough language and frank descriptions of sexuality may offend more sensitive readers. Full of well-told stories, Kotler’s book will please many animal advocates. --Rick Roche


'Kotler's tale-part obsession, part inquiry, part adventure-serves up a well-rounded meal of soul-searching and psychology' Psychology Today 'Kotler offers a touching account of Chihuahua adventures alongside interesting blurbs on the history of pet ownership, canine ethology, the semantics of the dog-adoption process, homosexuality in nature and the intricate science behind canine domestication. A heartfelt example of humanitarianism at work' Kirkus Reviews 'A delightful, rich read sure to take you to unexpected places and beyond' Bark

Product Details

  • File Size: 2684 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 3, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043D2BLQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,904 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
163 of 168 people found the following review helpful
A Small Furry Prayer is the story of two writers who are dog rescuers in the town of Chimayo, New Mexico, famous for its church of miracles and scary drug statistics. Joy (Tribes of Palos Verdes) and Steven (West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief), are already rescuing dogs in LA when the story opens. But their space is limited, and the cranky landlord who asks them to leave spurs them to make a drastic move: They spend all their money to move to a chunk of land in Northern New Mexico. Because Joy's bull terrier seemed to accept Chihuahuas, that was the breed they took in. The dogs that come to them are truly at rock bottom. Abused, injured, mangy, the dogs with deformities, unloved, sometimes unloveable, they are the dogs everyone turns away from, pretends they don't exist. If a Chihuahua or mixed breed is on death row, they take them in. Special needs, elderly, and the toughest cases, those who bite if you try to pet them, all find salvation at Rancho de Chihuahua. There is no "training method" here, simply acceptance, love, exercise, good food and kindness. Each individual dog delivers a story worth telling, proving their hearts, teaching a lesson, and earning my admiration. The patience Joy and Steven have with up to 50 dogs at a time is worthy of the Nobel prize. I loved how this book placed the dog in a wider perspective--philosophically (You'll never think of Rene Descartes in the same way again), scientifically (did you know that dogs can laugh? Isn't that the greatest news ever?! ) and the history of the dog and its relationship with humans will expand the way you look at dogs forever. Sometimes even the most avid dog lover will skip over such a book in order to avoid the emotions such stories stir up. Read more ›
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89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Furry, yes. Fluffy, no. October 28, 2010
Small Furry Prayer is not the book that I thought it was going to be. I thought that I would be reading just another heartwarming tale of outrageous animals changing peoples' lives. In fact, that is only one of the elements that comprises this book. This is the story of a reluctant dog rescuer, a midlife crisis, a girlfriend and a ranch with a donkey. Each chapter does encompass one or more anecdotes about the rescued dog, but each also ranges far and wide into topics including neurobiology, ethology, religion, mysticism, heartbreak, inequality, trust and renewal. Deep, introspective and engaging, this book was far from the fluffy read I was expecting. Highly recommended for dog lovers and anyone else who may have once wondered if they're smarter than we give them credit for.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The blessing of "A Small Furry Prayer" October 6, 2010
I loved this book, and have already recommended it to my dog-loving friends. I bought the book on a whim in an airport bookstore. Chalk that impulse buy up to the endearing cover image. From page one to the very last page, I couldn't put this book down. I was simply amazed to learn that Joy and Steven didn't "crash and burn" along the way. Talk about withstanding adversity!

The book is not at all about how to train dogs to get along in a pack. But that was OK. I have 5 rescues, and what this book did for me was give me two gifts: a new perspective and improved coping skills. I now put myself in my dogs' "paws" more quickly, and I think more about why I react to them the way I do. I used to think I had it rough. Now I know what courage in ending abuse, suffering, neglect, and pain is really about.

If you buy the book and like it, don't forget to donate to Steven and Joy's sanctuary: [...]
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read Book November 28, 2010
In November, I received an advanced reader copy of "A Small Furry Prayer" by Stephen Kotler, which I thought would be "yet another dog book". The good news is I liked the middle section about the dogs and their rescue. The bad news is I felt confused by the early chapters, wherein Kotler presents a jumble of details how one choice after another that led to his involvement in dog rescue. I cared even less for the sections, interspersed throughout and predominant in the final chapters, where Kotler analyzes reasons why people have relationships with dogs and why some become dog rescuers. These musings might help make "A Small Furry Prayer" stand apart from its genre, but this animal lover quite frankly desired "yet another dog book".

In other dog books, I have also liked reading about the author's journey from reluctance to commitment. If Kotler had better narrated his journey, I might have cared equally about his own story. Kotler's journey is however written in such a circular fashion that I frequently felt lost and frustrated. In chapter one, he outlines the negatives about Chimayo (the town where he and his wife will establish a rescue), tells how he and his wife lose their rental house, and shares a story of an animal rescue. In the second chapter, he talks more about his wife, their rental, and their plans for a dog rescue. In the third, he outlines their financial difficulties, muses about altruism, and introduces one of their rescue dogs. In each chapter Kotler revisits the original events, without ever providing a clear timeline. Even after having finished the book, I could not provide a linear narration of his journey. Shouldn't an author make more sense of his world for readers?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love dogs, you'll love this book
Must read for all dog lovers
Published 8 days ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Prayers for the furry ones.
This is a beautiful, well written book about animal rescue. I saw myself on so many of the pages. My home is full of the unwanted ones who don't stand a chance on the adoption... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Louise Tabor
3.0 out of 5 stars it was ok, but not what i expected
some of the anecdotes and bits about the author's life and animals were heartwarming and wonderful. there was WAY too much technical stuff that seemed to be copy/pasted from google... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rose Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my top 5 dog books
I first bought this book because I am owned by a rescued Chihuahua who has, shall I say, "issues". Read more
Published 2 months ago by dadshop2000
5.0 out of 5 stars This book makes you think.
I found this book totally enjoyable. Sure, I like to read about cute dogs and how selfless individuals save them from previously damaged lives. Read more
Published 2 months ago by D and J
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A really enjoyable read!
Published 2 months ago by Dan Nelson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Story line and story matter were good, but it got too technical at times
Published 2 months ago by Terri Jenski
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for dog lovers
Great book about dogs. There were definitely depressing spots and I cried a lot, but it left me feeling inspired and gave me new insights about my dog. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating!
What a story of ones life. Thankful that their are people that are so loving & caring of animals. I have the habit of calling these cardsing ones "saints" because they are.
Published 3 months ago by jack m vogee
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
A Small Furry Prayer is one of the best books I've read in a while...part stories, part history and part science about dogs and their relationship with humans. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
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More About the Author

STEVEN KOTLER is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and co-founder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project. His books include the non-fiction works "Bold," "The Rise of Superman," "Abundance," "A Small Furry Prayer" "West of Jesus," and the novel "The Angle Quickest for Flight." His work has been translated into more than 30 languages. His work has been translated in over 30 languages and his articles have appeared in over 80 publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Wired, GQ, Outside, Popular Science, Discover and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes "Far Frontiers," a blog about technology and innovation for and is cofounder of the Rancho de Chihuahua dog sanctuary in Northern New Mexico.

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