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We Give Our Hearts to Dogs to Tear: Intimations of Their Immortality Hardcover – June 15, 2008
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“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
About the Author
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.
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I initially hesitated to buy this book, based on the price, but I am so glad I took the leap. I am also a multi dog owner, or should I say, multi terrier owner. Terriers, because of their rough and tumble natures, are the dogs most often abused and dumped at animal shelters (pit bull terriers being the most common.) It is clear this author understands the essence of a terrier, and celebrates rather than attempts to change what is truly the very core of these wonderful dogs. Several times while reading, I wanted to curse the author because he let his dogs run freely, resulting several times in the death of his dogs, but I also understand how he chose to let his terriers simply be what they were bred to be; feisty, wonderfully silly hunters, that were all the better for being able to exercise their true selves. I'm only sorry that the author took so long to realize that each dog that shares our lives is a gift, and in wanting to replicate a beloved friend, we may miss out on the next gift we're given, different as it may be..
Keep a box of tissues close at hand....
He manages to touch on many aspects of JRTs (and dogs in general) as well as bringing in deeper, more philosophical material that is well worth pondering. I especially appreciate his addressing the "Pure Breed" Show Dog subject, particularly as it relates to Jack Russell Terriers.
One of my favorite quotes regarding dogs: "We long for an affection ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accord that to us in dogs." While the quote is not lifted from the book, the concept is resonant throughout.
You will laugh. You will be anxious. You will feel compassion. You will feel joy. And perhaps, you will shed a tear. But in the end, you will be glad you read the book, and likely give your JRT an extra treat and an extra bit of love.
The title of this book is taken from a quote by Rudyard Kipling and if you have ever forged a close bond with your canine pals you know what is meant by that sentiment.
I confess to feeling just a little jealous of the author and his family and the life they chose to live. I can see myself living that lifestyle someday. This story is about how the family came to love the Jack Russell Terrier breed of dog sort of by accident. A spur of the moment decision to take a puppy even though the timing for the family was somewhat dubious, began a journey for them as they learned all there was about this wonderful breed of dogs.
There is a wealth of information pertaining to the history of the Jack Russell terrier as well as the disposition of the breed and health issues the dog is predisposed to. Through the years the Jack Russell has grown in popularity and is now recognized by the Westminster Kennel Club. This decision spawned some debate and that was understandable.
The 1980's would prove to be a pivotal time for the JR terrier as it gained popularity as a companion dog and times were changing bringing about the formation of anti- fox hunting animal rights groups in England. This was sort of confusing since people loved the “ hunting parson” Russell but not the hunting.
Once we have been armed with all this knowledge about the breed, the author begins to share his family's personal relationships with their JR terriers. There were touching stories, funny stories and of course tears.
The family grieved hard for some of the dogs they had bonded with and attempted to genetically keep them alive through breeding. The live and learn part of live taught them that this was not the solution and tells a cautionary tale in regards to inbreeding. Through the years the family has added so much enhancement to their lives by loving and caring the this breed. They now wish to spread that love and information on to others.
As an animal lover I was completely engaged in this book. I have a neighbor that rescued a JR from the pound and he is just adorable and smart and a really good dog. This is my only experience with the breed so I found all the information in this book very helpful and interesting. I also felt the emotional ups and downs that go with having dogs … the smiles, the fun, the joy, and the risk you have to take when loving and bonding with your dog.
For me and my family it's always been Cocker Spaniels and my husband and I can relate to the issues addressed here. One of the dogs we had so bonded with my husband we couldn't have just one dog after that. We wanted to breed them so we would always have a family of them, but just as the author state here, this is not always the best idea. Thankfully, we decided against that in the end.
So, even if you are not an owner of JR terriers don't let that deter you from reading this book. This information and experience could apply to all dog lovers and you will certainly understand and relate to how dogs enrich our lives and what a joy they are. Yes, a time will come when you will have to say goodbye but the time I have had with my dogs is worth it and I will continue to bring them into my life always.
This one is 5 stars.