Rating: 4 1/2 stars
“Dog Crazy” by Meg Donohue tackles the subject of grief in a story that manages to be both charming and thoughtful. Donohue writes about how people feel when their dog dies.
Often people try to hide their grief because others may not understand. Yet for those who have dogs and love them dearly, sometimes the loss of a dog can be as devastating as the loss of a person. As Maggie, the clinical psychologist in the story, points out, a dog can be better for a person’s psyche than prozac.
Maggie has recently moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco to start working as a pet bereavement counselor. She has become involved with a rescue group and lives in the downstairs apartment of her best friend from her childhood.
Maggie’s mother suffers from agoraphobia — she has not stepped out of her home without being heavily medicated for 25 years. When we meet Maggie at the beginning of the story, she has lost her dear companion Toby. Through the characters, Donohue tells the reader that we get the dog we need at the time we need it. But now, Maggie has not left her home for almost 100 days.
Maggie meets a new patient whose dog has disappeared. Anya is convinced that someone stole her dog, and she continues to search the city for the animal. Maggie doesn’t really believe that Anya will find her dog after all this time (over a month), but she begins to accompany Anya on the walks with her friend’s dog as company (and to help keep her grounded and feeling safe).
There is not great action, nor is there a great mystery (though there is a small one). This is the kind of book that proceeds at a slow, measured pace while it winds its way into the heart of the reader. It’s at times touching, funny, and thoughtful.
Donohue approaches very sensitive topics such as mental health, grief, and loss, in a manner that is both sympathetic and pragmatic at the same time.
And the ending is beautiful. Predictable, perhaps, but lovely nonetheless.
Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by William Morrow Paperbacks for review purposes.