Customer Reviews: The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals
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on January 31, 2013
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's beautifully written and quite a compelling read. My main problem is that I don't believe the author. She admits in a previous "memoir" that she's a compulsive liar. I thought I found hints of that in this book as well. In the former, she tells us that she had/has epilepsy and Munchausen syndrome and underwent an operation where the two halves of her brain were separated. Not a hint of any of that in this one which covers much of the same time period. While the story feels psychologically authentic, I'm just not buying it as literal truth. (Two deadly fires?) Some chapters are only tangentially about animals. I suggest readers read this as fiction.

P.S. I came back and gave the book an extra star. The chapter on Ivory, the swan, alone is worth the price of the book. The writing is breathtaking. But please, Ms. Slater, if you're writing fiction, label it as fiction. If the book isn't fiction, explain the lack of congruence with the earlier memoir.
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on December 2, 2012
Slater has a dramatic, deep, troubled and honest way of looking and remembering. Sometimes disturbing but always ridiculously readable. I gave this book to my animal adoring wife who is not a big reader and she is tearing thru it. Giving us a lot to discuss.
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on June 17, 2015
As one who has not previously read anything by this author, I found the book exceptionally well written, each part engaging in and of itself, and fascinating. In fact, I found the book elegant in its prose and a winding road easily identified with in parts related to the relationships with the animals in her life. Only two things disturbed me. First, among the graceful storytelling, I was turned off (and don't want to use stronger language in a review, though my feelings were strong) about the calculations related to excrement. Completely unnecessary and a rip in a beautiful fabric. Second, with a deft touch, Ms. Slater inserts significant research that embraces and supports the ideals and issues discussed with great facility, and portrays herself as in communion with her animals. Yet, at one point, makes the bizarre statement to the effect that dogs' true behavior toward their human caretakers is based upon their want of food. My own experiences with my dog, now deceased, completely discount such an assertion. For so delicate a written portrayal of universal empathy toward animals and particularly our dogs, the aforementioned conclusion shocked the sensibilities carefully woven throughout the thesis of the book.
The book is excellent, and the questions I raise would not cause me to rate the book anything other than 5 stars.
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on December 28, 2012
From the title, I expected a light and fluffy book on dog ownership. Instead, I found a deeply moving story of the author's painful childhood and adolescence. I am surprised that this book is not getting more critical acclaim.
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on December 19, 2013
I really enjoyed this, but I have to caution people from being misled by the title. As intriguing as the title "The $60,000 Dog" sounds, Slater's writing is far from centered around dogs, or any sort of in-depth analysis of the cost of "pets" on our society. That kind of article would be better suited for an interest magazine piece or research paper assignment at your local university. And the subtitle "My Life with Animals," although broad, does not truly convey what the reader is picking up when they delve into Slater's pages.

Slater's work is a new kind of autobiography. The kind that manages to convey events both through a child's eyes and with adult meaning and sensitivity. If I had to describe the book in one word it would be just that: sensitive. Although others may find it neurotic, I believe that opinion would come from a reader who has not experienced depression that can take you down the rabbit hole of your own mind and leave you shaking in the darkness. Slater's writing is so nuanced you can taste smoke on your tongue and see the living AND dying cells within the network of your own skin, and yet she still manages to appreciate what she still does not know, and quite possibly, what she will never know. I applaud Slater for opening herself up in such a truthful way; admitting to her fears, questions, and acknowledging her pain.

So where are the animals? - you might be wondering. Animals are tools, teachers, and conduits through Slater's life, but I would not consider them the main focus of the book. At the center of everything is Slater (as we each are the principal of our own story). And her prose is filled with "quotable quotes" that question humanity's purpose and very existence.

I would recommend this book for those interested in exploring the philosophical side of life and considering how animals help us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Not everyone can appreciate the lessons animals provide to us, and not everyone respects the nature of Slater's musings. But for me, her style of writing, her sensitivity to her surroundings and other beings who occupy the same space, all were considerations I enjoyed hearing articulated.

Happy Reading!
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on January 26, 2013
Writing style inconsistent, and the whole thing was not what I expected. It was not really a book about this author's life with animals, rather a book about her life, with animals on the fringes of her experience.
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on September 27, 2015
Spoiler alerts...
I downloaded this book and got to 34% of the way through and still no mention of the dog that I thought was the reason for her writing this book. She did tell me how her mother killed the family dog with Nyquil. She didn't seem sad about that event. Just a quick mention that they buried the dog two days later. She then told how she went to a summer camp where the owner whipped the horses so hard, they were bleeding. Again, she didn't write this with a sense of outrage. I felt like she was discussing a grocery list. If she mentioned an internal anguish, shedding tears, sleepless nights, a deep resolve never to act in such a manner, etc. I would have a much different view.

For these reasons, I quit reading at that point. Someone else said the author claimed to be a compulsive liar. I sure hope so.
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on February 28, 2015
I would give the first half of this book a solid 4 stars because of the author's gift for storytelling. But my star rating slid as I slogged through page after page of flowery prose about her "special" connection with animals. What turned me off completely was her casual admission (spoiler alert!) that early in her marriage she had an abortion, because she felt it was just "too soon" to have a baby. What???? How can you go crazy for a baby duck with an injured beak, and then discard a human fetus because it wasn't convenient for her. This is messed up thinking in my opinion, or at least hypocritical.
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on November 26, 2014
I loved almost everything....yes I affirm one can love and grieve an animal companion as much as a person...not to feel guilty
As a Christian I am glad I know there is Eternal life not oblivion...there is hope I will see my beloved animals again....they were
part of the the original paradise on earth and likely will be part of paradise restored in God's perfect timing.
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on November 28, 2014
This is a book to savor, like a grand meal. Some parts sweet, some savory, others full of tension and mystery.
For all those who love animals, but especially for those who don't, but love those who do. Here is an artist's map of your beloved.
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