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Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs Paperback – June 8, 1999
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"Caroline Knapp is a rare writer, with a sophisticated, beautifully controlled style." --Newsweek
From the Inside Flap
f 36, Caroline Knapp, author of the acclaimed bestseller Drinking:A Love Story, found herself confronted with a monumental task: redefining her world. She had faced the loss of both her parents, given up a twenty-year relationship with alcohol, and, as she writes, "I was wandering around in a haze of uncertainty, blinking up at the biggest questions: Who am I without parents and without alcohol? How to form attachments, and where to find comfort, in the face of such daunting vulnerability?" An answer materialized in the most unlikely form: that of a dog. Eighteen months to the day after she quit drinking, Knapp stumbled upon an eight-week-old puppy at a local animal shelter, took her home, and named her Lucille. Now two years old, Lucille has become a central force in Knapp's life: "In her," she writes, "I have found solace, joy, a bridge to the world."
Caroline Knapp has been celebrated as m
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Positive dog training was just emerging as a powerful force and I was still poo-pooing the idea, focused on the outdated notion of dominance. Then I met a very patient motivational dog trainer, who allowed for in depth and non-judgemental discussion of the topic. Thank you, Jeannie Collins! I began to realize that partnership and communication was the answer, not force and domination.
Sometime later, I picked up this book and it completely changed my life as a trainer. I realized the error of my ways with great guilt. This spoke to me of the intelligence, cooperative nature and under-acknowledged mental and emotional capacity of dogs. This is not a training book, but it touched me so profoundly that I trashed my old-school training books, threw out the choke collars and began anew. Guess what happened? My dogs and I started having a lot more fun, training became easier, and we started raking in the trial ribbons and titles! Without force, my dogs were far more cooperative. We understood each other instead of being anxious about each other's actions.
The story of Knapp's relationship with her dog is nothing spectacular, a great many books have been written about a certain author's certain life-changing dog. After working in the veterinary and dog rescue field for 25 years, I am somewhat immune to this type of memoir's emotional effects. But Knapp's writing is not overwrought, and her description of what this relationship meant is powerful without being melodramatic. It focuses on her growth as a person. It made me realize I was missing something, even though my life already revolved around my dogs.
Other than my love of dogs and the beauty of her writing, I can't exactly say why it touched me so deeply. Sometimes these memoirs get on my last nerve because of bad writing, ovbious lack of knowledge about dogs, or extraneous information. Not so with Pack of Two.If you have read Knapp's other books, you know she is one hell of a writer, a real pro with a lot of style. Something about her gritty humor combined with honest emotion is so relatable. Whatever it was, it sealed the deal for me and I went on to forge a much deeper, more satisfying and more effective way of relating to my dogs. As a dominance oriented owner, my dog was, on some level, viewed as an adversary looking for a coup. I missed out on so much amazing communication, so much "dogness". Knapp has a knack for describing this realtionship vividly.
I will always be grateful that this book appeared in my life just when I needed it. I feel a pang just seeing it on my bookshelf, because it confirmed so much about dogs that I had kept out of my life for so long. Donald McCaig, another great dog writer, has said something like, "Dog training is all about regret". So true for me! But, since Pack of Two, so many years ago, I have communicated with my dogs better than most people in my life, and for that, I thank you, Caroline. I mourn your passing from this planet.
I loved the book. But, what I loved most--it was so different from other books dealing with doggie psychology and human-dog interactions. This deals with life the way many people actually interact with their dogs. Part of the family. The child part of the family.
Before I say another word, I have to mention my dogs have their own bedroom. You might call it a kennel, but it really isn't. Their crates are there, but it's THEIR room. (despite the exercise machine and half my book library.
Caroline Knapp is a wonderful writer with an amazing way with words and phrases. This specifically peaked my interest.
"Lucille is five months old. She is at home, in my bedroom . . . (my dogs sleep there too, despite having their own room). . . and I am at the movies, writhing with a degree of anxiety so intense it takes me by surprise. I hate leaving the puppy alone. HATE IT. Every time I make a move toward the door, I see that little dog face focused on me, alert and questioning, and I crumble inside. She looks so sad. She looks so alarmed. She . . . I just can't bear it. So I sit in the theater and squirm, check my watch every six minutes. Is she all right? Does she feel abandoned? Does she know I'll be back or is she terrified?"
Wow. She goes on and says this is not an uncommon fear. Many people struggle with anxiety and guilt about leaving their dogs alone. Now, does this remind you of anything? Hmm. Perhaps leaving your child alone?
This is such a fun book, showing the upside and downside of dog ownership, but mostly (I love adverbs) it's about how different people react with and to their dogs.
Newsweek Review got it right: "Caroline Knap;p is a rare writer, with a sophisticated, beautifully controlled style." Is is and she does.
I have to give it five stars. I looked for the flaw every reviewer looks for, but got so engrossed in her perceptions and the story itself, I couldn't find any.
Patricia A. Guthrie