I once read somewhere that the people and animals around us reflect who we are. I wonder what it says about me that one of my cats likes to eat cardboard and the other doesn’t like to get her nails done. In any case, I think this theory is borne out to some extent in Martin Kihn’s memoir, BAD DOG: A LOVE STORY.
Kihn suffers from alcoholism to the point that his wife leaves him. Then it’s just him and Hola, his untrained Bernese mountain dog. The dog’s chaotic behavior mirrors his inner (and outer) turmoil. At some point he hits bottom and decides to seek help for himself and Hola. The results are funny and poignant.
While the narrative structure builds suspense brilliantly (it starts immediately before the climax, then goes back to the beginning to tell how he arrived at this point), some readers may feel overwhelmed by the dog-related minutiae. I read a review on Barnes & Noble which complained that the reader “could have done without all the minute details and history of AKC skills testing.” But as the daughter of a DOG PERSON (full disclosure: my mother used to be the Secretary of the Saluki Club of America), I am impervious to such concerns. If you love dogs and you care about people who might be struggling with this familiar problem, you will probably like this book, too.