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Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs Paperback – June 8, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Caroline Knapp is head over heels in love--not with a human being, but with her mixed-breed dog, Lucille. From the moment Lucille first locked eyes with Knapp through the bars of an animal shelter cage, the intelligent, pointy-eared mutt began to transform Knapp's life. Reeling from the deaths of both her parents, a breakup with a long-term boyfriend, and her newly won sobriety after a 20-year battle with the bottle (which was skillfully chronicled in a previous memoir, Drinking: A Love Story), Knapp found in Lucille not only companionship, but "consistency, continuity, connection. In a word, love." Although she doesn't regard Lucille as a replacement for alcohol and lost loved ones, Knapp does believe "that in loving her I have had that sense of being filled anew and essentially redirected, an old identity shattered and a new one emerging in its stead." In Pack of Two Knapp, with the help of dog psychiatrists, trainers, breeders, and owners, explores the partnership between human and dog and the mysteries of the canine mind--how dogs love, how they think, and how they see human beings. And despite her findings that the dog will remain essentially "mysterious ... unknowable," Knapp is ultimately at peace with this, still devouring the moments when dog and human can "transcend the language barrier" to "understand what the other wants and feels." This book pays homage to the wonderful and complex relationship between one woman and her dog. --Naomi Gesinger --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Following her bestselling memoir, Drinking: A Love Story, Knapp's account of her "mutual and unambiguous and exceptionally private" relationship with Lucille, a small German shepherd mix, illuminates beautifully how the dog's unconditional love filled the gaping hole in Knapp's emotional life after her parents died and she quit drinking. Drawing on charming but alpha-tough anecdotes from her own experience and those of her dog-loving friends (primarily single and female), Knapp describes with affectionate amusement the great, often expensive lengths to which owners go to insure that their pets are well trained and well balanced. As a pup, Lucille goes with Knapp to obedience school for education, to day care for baby-sitting and to play dates with other dogs for recreation. They visit dog psychics and therapists to explain mysterious, troubled behavior, and a canine behaviorist for a few weeks of discipline. Throughout, Knapp has a canny nose for emotional detail: "Living with a dog is like being followed around 24 hours a day by a mute psychoanalyst," Knapp writes. "Feelings float up from inside and attach themselves to the dog, who will not question their validity, or hold up your behavior to scrutiny, or challenge your perceptions." Lucille's arrival is followed by boyfriend Michael's departure, and Knapp intelligently plumbs criticism from outside the dog world that she and others "use their pets as surrogates, to retreat into the world of animals in order to bypass more problematic and complex human relationships." Anyone who loves dogs, and particularly prospective first-time owners, will delight in this exploration of man's (or in this case, woman's) best friend and of the "significant other" role a dog often plays in a one-person household. First serial to Glamour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; 1 edition (June 8, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385317018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385317016
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pack of Two lives up to its subtitle--it is an intricate and subtle exploration of the relationships between people (mostly single) and their dogs (often plural). Knapp appears in the book to be working through her reservations about the strength of her attachment to her dog Lucille. There is some pretty convoluted introspection, but she eventually comes out with a very life- and dog-affirming position--in the best cases, we love our dogs for themselves, not as replacements for kids, partners, etc. Well, no kidding. I think she approaches, but does not look straight at, the possibility that the affirmation we receive from our dogs makes us stronger--because we have dogs, we don't need people as much, and may be happier to be without partner or kids--although she makes the point that dog people tend to be more sociable and have more friends (often other dog people)... Alone (if you call hanging with the mutts alone) more, but less needy. Not a bad way to be.
One footnote. Knapp unfortunately confuses operant conditioning/positive reinforcement with no training/no discipline. In fact, operant conditioning/positive reinforcement training requires a great deal of discipline--it's just the discipline doesn't take the form of strangling your dog, pinching his/her ears, etc. People who don't train their dogs are really irresponsible. People who believe you have to hurt your dog to train it are either misguided or sadistic. Jean Donaldson's "The Culture Clash" makes these points clearly and forcefully.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is perfect for people who own -- and love -- their dogs, yet are stymied when their non-dog lover friends say, "Sure, Barkey is cute, but he is JUST A DOG."
Caroline Knapp has truly communicated the joys of "dog cohabitation" (as opposed to "dog ownership") in a way that even non-dog people can appreciate. Her largely anecdotal work will both resonate with those who have a dog, and will help to shade in mysterious and perplexing areas for those who don't -- and who wonder how people can get so darn attached to an animal.
And, perhaps best of all, Ms. Knapp avoids most of the preposterious dog-as-human-in-little-fur-coat anthromorphism that many writers of less talent and intelligence have used to convey that difficult to describe feeling of being engaged in a reciprocal love relationship with a dog.
As a writer myself, I am impressed -- and a little bit jealous of -- Ms. Knapp's use of language and phrasing to convey both complicated concepts and strong emotions. And, there are quite a few instances of humor in the book as well -- any dog owner who, as Ms. Knapp recounts, is convinced that a neighbor overhearing him or her speak to the dog would think "I'm a goon" will certainly empathize.
Again, the tone of this book is appropriate for both "dog people" and those indifferent to dogs alike. And, for those individuals (you all know who you are) who have fretted while dining out -- or, better yet, refused a dinner invitation altogether -- because of not wanting to leave Rover home alone, this book will speak to your soul.
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By A Customer on March 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading many books about "dogs", a friend suggested this book. Unlike many others, this book deals almost exclusively with the dog/person relationship, and discusses it in depth and detail not found in any other book I've read.
Not everyone relates to their dog in the way Ms. Knapp does, and I certainly didn't agree with everything she wrote, but the book provides such a warm, intimate, unflinching look into her first relationship with a dog that I could not help getting teary at certain points. For some, dogs can and do provide a type of love found nowhere else. Even, as Ms. Knapp points out, if your life is balanced and full with a spouse, kids, career and other emotional connections. Perhaps one of the best things this book accomplishes is the confidence with which she says that loving a dog does not mean you are emotionally flawed. That alone should be merit enough.
This book is so different from many other dog books. It is introspective, personal, affirming. One of the best books I've read in a long time, and one that could be read again and again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
last month, my maltese dog, priscilla, died. i had gotten her when she was 6 weeks old, fell in love with her instantly, and stayed in love with her for the next 16 years. my husband bought Pack of Two after reading a book review. in the review, the relationship between caroline knapp and lucille reminded him of myself and priscilla. my husband's concern was that my reading it might be too upsetting for me. on the contrary, knapp's insights into the interdependence between people and their dogs was enlightening, entertaining, and heartwarming. the strenght of the book lies in the psychological assessment of why we bond so strongly to these animals. knapp has really done her homework, citing interviews with psychiatrists, psychologists, veterinarians, and pet owners, as well as reporting research done on the human companion-animal bond. what results is a book that explores the connection we make with dogs. we fall in love with our dogs and they accept us for w! ho we are. we relive our past lives through our dogs and they bring out the best in us. they provide us with constancy and companionship. as i read through the pages, i kept repeating "yes, oh yes, i know houw you feel". i will grieve for my priscilla for a long time to come, but the comfort i derive from these shared experiences found in the pages of this book help ease my pain. bravo to knapp!! this book is bound to become a classic for dog lovers everywhere.
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