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The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives Hardcover – September 27, 2012
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"The Last Walk is an engaging tribute to the complexity of human relations to companion animals and the range of issues and concerns that arise for us as those companions' lives come to their ends. The nature of building relationships and forming families with companion animals who, in most cases, we know we will outlive, shapes those relationships in profound ways. Given the subject matter, it seems odd to say I 'enjoyed' this book--I was so moved by it at times that I wept--let me say instead that I was utterly gripped by this book and think it is a must read for everyone who shares their lives with animals."
(Lori Gruen, author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction)
"In The Last Walk bioethicist Jessica Pierce covers virtually every aspect of dealing with the aging and death of a companion animal—from doggie diapers to the morally complex and psychologically wrenching decision to euthanize a pet. This is an intelligent and deeply moving book that everyone who loves—or will love—an aging animal should read."
(Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat)
"The Last Walk rings with compassion for aging animals and charts a hopeful new course for those of us who care for them. With her beautiful 'Ody's journal' passages, Jessica Pierce made me feel close to her beloved and high-maintenance old dog. It was through Ody's challenges, and Pierce's on his behalf, that I came to grapple in important new ways with issues of pet aging and death. This book is revolutionary, and I loved it with all my heart."
(Barbara J. King, author of Being with Animals)
"Pierce has made an important contribution to the small body of literature dealing with aging and death in companion animals. . . . While this will appeal to a fairly narrow audience, it should be required reading for every pet owner. Readers will identify with Pierce's feelings of ambivalence, and see something of their own pets as they read about Ody's antics and challenges. Recommended."
(Globe and Mail)
About the Author
Jessica Pierce is a bioethicist and coauthor of Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals.
Top Customer Reviews
This is a gut-wrenching book to read; my first tears came on page 4. The second set on page 13. I finished the book in bed and had to sleep on a damp pillow. So if you are looking for a feel-good end-of-life book, don't read it. If you are looking for a fellow-traveler as you contemplate the euthanasia of your sick or elderly pet, read it and know you are not alone.
Probably the hardest choice for any pet owner is not the "if" of euthanasia, but the "when" and the time is different for every person. Not everyone would have lasted as long as Ms. Pierce with the responsibilities of being a caretaker for an elderly dog with obvious neurological pathology, but throughout the book I cheered her on, as I am sure Ody did also, and from my point of view the timing of the euthanasia was perfect.
What we don't have is the 14 years of heart strings attached to Ody. Pierce did not write this book as a "How To" manual on putting your animal down. This book opened my mind and made me see animals in a way I have never considered. Her theories/studies were intriguing, thought provoking and at times disturbing. They also made me question my decision for putting our dog down several years ago.
What this book made clear for me is how much we personify our animals based on what WE think they must be feeling. Interestingly enough, we do this with our fellow humans as well. Pierce breaks the barrier and opens up new possibilities on what your pet is REALLY going through with aging, pain and emotions (and much more). Yet these are not instructions, just studies and theories which help you develop your own opinion based on your moral values. People who do not think animals could possibly have feelings and emotions are going to be turned off by this book and by Pierce. There would not have been a "journal" because they would have put their animal down much earlier and could not have been bothered with taking care of their ailing pet. I am honest when I say, we put our dog down too soon. The care and cost became too much. In MY mind I wanted her to feel better. This book would have changed my perspective in a good way and I would not have been so guilt ridden for putting her down.Read more ›
Pierce takes a courageous journey into thoughtful, compassionate, and sometimes painful end of life issues surrounding her beloved animal companion, Ody. Anyone who has ever owned a Vizsla or other "high maintenance" breed will relate to, and will probably both laugh and cry with, the experiences and reflections into this revolutionary book.
READ this book if you are open-minded and wish to be more mindful and present of your loved animals, especially as they age. Read the book if you dare to face hardship, pain, and self-doubt that accompanies the loss of an animal friend. Read this book if you simply wish to get to know Ody, the chaos and humor that surrounded his life, and the thoughtful processes and insights it gave birth to.
DO NOT read this book if you are looking for an easy or step by step "how to" manual on pet death. Do not read the book if you want to laugh without crying. Do not read the book if you are not willing to face painful emotions and decisions that many pet owners deny or bury. Do not read the book if you wish to avoid being angry at times, perhaps at the situation or story in the book, or perhaps because the book strikes a personal, sensitive chord.
Pierce beautifully faces the pain and pleasure that Ody's life presented. She is honest, raw, and vulnerable in her writing. The book will not provide you with an outline of how to face animal companion death, although it does offer pointers throughout the text.Read more ›
The enormous problem trying to figure out how to help our dogs is that for all their goofy affection for us and ours for them, and for all their proximity to us over the ages, they are still alien beings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very moving story. My sympathies to anyone who loses a beloved pet, as they are truly a family member for many of us.Published 2 months ago by Mike
Dr. Jessica Pierce does a fabulous job of candidly telling her story, and then choosing and critically relating research to end of life care in our animal companions. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Michelle Nichols
I began to understand my girl's slide toward the end. Began to read it a few months before my own 15 year old Vizsla died, then reread it after her death. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Woody
Didn't even finish the book. Didn't like the thought process put into it. Didn't agree with some of her points of view. It was not for me.Published 15 months ago by pam l.
Written by an ethicist, this book goes through the many things we wonder about how our dogs feel, both physically and emotionally as they age or falter, and poses the many... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Karen Lee Walker
It sure did help me make sense of the loss of my dog who I adopted at age 1 fifteen years ago. I recommend it for those looking for the factual truth.Published 20 months ago by The Wright Story
I recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with an elderly or sick dog. I also recommend this book for vetenarians as a tool to counsel families. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Abbie Hoff
I am also on the last walk with my 14 yrs old Wolfdog, this book helped me know I am not alone with the issues of old dog age, Wolfie is stil very much hanging in there, he still... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Peggy Jewell