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Church of the Dog

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  452 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Mara, a physically gifted art teacher, lives in the old employee quarters behind the McRae House in exchange for helping Earl McRae fix his fences. Earl, an old rancher set in his ways, is intent upon spending his last days putting his affairs in order and waltzing the hours by with his beloved wife, Edith. Eager to live adventurously at every age, Edith continues to entic ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published March 28th 2001 by Daybue Publishing (first published March 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Betsy Ashton
Feb 27, 2012 Betsy Ashton rated it it was amazing
Some books bring tears to your eyes when you finish them. Some bring tears because you finish them. The rare books bring tears for both reasons. Church of the Dog is one of the rare books.

Told from multiple perspectives, this is a story of wonder and mystery, wonder over the events of life, mystery because events have a way of producing unintended consequences. Deep in Oregon farm country lies a farm owned by Earl and Edith. Cattle and sadness are the two main "crops." Earl and Edith face anothe
Amy Newburn
Dec 27, 2010 Amy Newburn rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book!! The only thing keeping me from giving it five stars is the ending. I'm not crazy about the ending. It seemed a little rushed and awkward to me. But the whole rest of the book was amazing.

Very easy to read. The author switches between four different perspectives in short sections. I never found myself questioning which character was speaking because they each has such distinct ways of speaking.

I read a lot of books and this is one that truly stands out to me. I want to pas
Mar 06, 2008 Ivy rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2013 Laurie rated it it was amazing
This is a weird book that I completely loved. I love characters who are rich, who grow, who contribute in redemptive ways to society and this book was like eating a box of candy to me. Just loved it. Only one friend read it on my recommendation and she thought I was weird too, I think. But I stand by this writer as having created a very lovable story.
Church of the Dog by Kaya McLaren is a very precious emotional read. This would be a book that would be fantastic for a readers group to read, discuss and delve into all the emotional, cultural and spiritual aspects of our lives. Make sure to have a very large box of tissues as you will most certainly need them.

Earl and Edith McRae are the perfect example of commitment, love, family, friendship and all the wonderful and not so wonderful things that come with a life long relationship and marriage
C. Janet Austin
Aug 07, 2010 C. Janet Austin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
This is a wonderful read... it was for me anyway... a very tender story about relationships & beliefs... which are presented openly & honestly throughout the book... none of them are what you usually hear or 'are supposed to hear' but instead are real genuine emotions from real & honest people.

It is Kaya's first book so I guess I am after 'the story' rather that Pulitzer material... i felt that she conveyed her story well... sure there might be a couple of holes or seemingly unbeliev
Feb 08, 2016 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-doggies
I may feel differently about this in a few weeks, but having just finished it, I am very moved by it. It's got a little bit of the mystical "travellers on other planes" that was in the author's On The Divinity of Second Chances, but it's balanced by some of the other characters' reactions to same.

And it has *this* great line: "Ministers remind me of used car salesmen. I believe religion is what happens when ego contaminates spirituality....God lives in our hearts. God speaks to us in our hearts
Oct 18, 2008 Kristin rated it it was amazing
It's been awhile since I plain enjoyed a book like this one. I would put it in the same genre as "Secret Lives of Bees" or "Poisonwood Bible," I think.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Church of the Dog" because I love stories where...

The characters tell the story from their own points of view,

Women are strong and interesting (as Mara and Edith are),

Nature is celebrated, even if it's ugly sometimes,

They make me think about living with intention and trying to better the lives of the people around me, and

Oct 24, 2008 Mom added it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Mom by: no one
A wonderfully rich story of a young woman with abilities to see the future, the past and the energy of others. Teaching art, living on the farm of an aging couple and building her own sanctuary of light and truth. She touches the lives of others in beautiful gentle ways, and receives the gifts of her experience with others as lessons on how to live life.
The story is filled with wonderful stories of love, acceptance, doubt and triumph over fear and hurt.
You will love the characters and love the m
Dec 11, 2009 Trina rated it it was amazing
I Looooved this book!! It was written by a family friend so I read it for her. But it turned out to be an amazing book all on it's own. I just loved the characters and the magical quality of the story.

There were a couple of spots that were based on my Grandma and some quotes from her that made it into the book so it makes it that much more special for me :)

This is a book that I'll probably read a couple of times because it's just that enjoyable
Dec 20, 2008 Jamie rated it it was ok
This book was sweet and innocent, but I thought the author's portrayal of the protagonist was somewhat narcissistic. I had an better opinion of the book until I flipped my copy topside down and realized that the author's photo matched in every way her description of the magic-endowed main character Mara. I read it again, and this observation colored my read of the book very differently.
Jul 25, 2012 Kathy rated it it was amazing
This book is too beautiful for words. I borrowed it from the library but I'm going to buy myself a copy to read over and over again. Maybe it was just the book I needed at this time in my life, I recently lost my sister and my Dad, but for me it was perfection. Rachel, You have to read this!
May 31, 2009 Karla rated it liked it
The title of the book was the first draw. The second was that it was written by a Northwest writer. I found it easy to read and there were parts of it that made me say HMMMMM, but most of it seemed like a slightly fictionalized version of the author's life, an expensive diary of sorts.
Dec 28, 2016 Rsmith1960 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Jun 22, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: here-be-dogs
The first one of Kaya McLaren’s novel I read was the excellent How I Came to Sparkle Again. That book, set in a skiing community, focuses on three women who have experienced loss, asks the big questions you ask after devastating things happen; but that’s another book. After searching for years, I was finally able to get McLaren’s first book, The Church of the Dog, on my NOOK.

So much happiness in one small book, I practically galloped through it, reading the whole thing in one long session. When
Jan 14, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Church of the Dog is a story about relationships. It follows four narrators in a small town in Oregon: Mara, a red-headed, free-thinking, hippie-dippy art teacher; Edith, an aging wife and grandmother; Earl, Edith's closed-lipped husband and ranch owner; and Daniel, Edith and Earl's grandson. There isn't much plot in this novel. The basic story is that Mara moves to Oregon to start a new job, where she buys a hog as soon as she gets into town to save it from slaughter (she's a vegetarian) and th ...more
I read this book on the heels of Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones'. Without any real intention, I managed to pick two books about dealing with grief, with some spirituality thrown in. Must be that spiritual realm trying to tell me something. In this book, we find a new-age, itinerant artist named Mara trying to find a home. She ends up in Oregon on a ranch in a small town that is full of people who are loving and helpful. Her free-spirit lifestyle (I mean free spirit literally as she drifts from ...more
Oct 21, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird, but a decent read. This is a cross between an evangelical book about new-age positivity and a serious novel about life, aging, and generational progression. It's a little heavy-handed at times, a wish-fulfillment Mary-Sue fantasy about how wonderfully wonderful life can be if we just wish it to be. But as she drags her characters through some of the most difficult experiences life can throw at us, Ms McLaren writes with some genuine sensitivity to those experiences.

One thing I did really
Sarah Sammis
Imagine if Pollyanna grew up, became an art teacher an moved to a ranch run by an elderly couple. That's the gist of Church of the Dog by Kaya McLaren.

Set in Oregon farm country, Church of the Dog follows the lives of Edith, Earl, their grandson Daniel and their mysterious guest Mara O'Shaunnessey who can astral project herself into dreams and sometimes heaven. The novel is told in the voices of the four main characters, though it later settles on just Daniel and Mara.

The chapters are divided u
Jo Dunn
Feb 02, 2013 Jo Dunn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jo by: Jamie Ford - via his list of Seattle (WA) authors.
I'm very glad I used the audio book format to "read" Kaya McLaren's Church of the Dog. The narration aspect allowed me to follow the story line and character development with ease. I quickly became attached to the various voices and, by the time the final page was read, I felt a sense of kinship with each and every one.

This is a book about life, loss, love, belief systems and family - with more than a bit of "free-spirit(edness)" tossed into the mix. I didn't come across a single "ho-hum" momen
Shannon Allstott
Sep 12, 2016 Shannon Allstott rated it really liked it
Great book! I love her writing style.
Deals with themes of death, family, dreams, deal with conflict, God.
Not as good as On the Divinity of Second Chances by the same author, but that's possibly to her credit, since Church of the Dog was written first. This book also has multiple narrators, though the effect was not as strong. More of a literary crutch than asset here. A non-traditional easy to read book, except for the parts that made me cry because they hit a personal note (they are sad in their own right, too). A new "plot twist"
I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bugging me about this book. I knew I'd finish it, but found the endless question asking by the character Mara a little wearing. I was interested enough in the characters to keep with it and was curious to see where this first-time author would go with it. I was also surprised to find a few typos and one section in which the voice of another character, Earl, was out of character, given that this is a reworked edition that was issued by another publisher ...more
Junkie for the Written Word
I started out hating this book.... In the first few chapters I wanted nothing more than to tear the pages out, bundle them with some white sage, and use the smoke to cleanse my space of it's aura. Seriously though it was very new agey... even for me.

However, as the book progresses it gets better. Some of the ideas are very comforting and it probably would be solace to someone who has recently lost a loved one.

Also, it was short. So even though it wasn't the best book in the world it didn't mak
Jul 14, 2016 Nico rated it really liked it
this is a cute little story about the family you choose to build around you and how there are more people in your village than you may realize. there are a few triggers here to be aware of for readers: there is a character struggling with cancer.
I liked Mara's dream travel and how she sees auras. a little more of that would have depend the story for me. this is a slow paced story but of you have time to relax, it is an enjoyable read, I or listen in my case
Nov 08, 2008 Linda rated it it was ok
Recommended to Linda by: Carol M.
Hmm. Very different. The Church of the Dog refers to an old bunk house that the main character moves into on the property of an elderly couple. To spruce it up she installs a stained glass window on the front door and she paints a side of the house with a large dog. This is the story of how her moving here brings the old couple back together. I did appreciate the relationship between the main character, Mara, and the elderly woman, Edith.
A good writer is invisible in her story, but while reading Church, I was aware of the author (and her agenda) the entire time. I couldn't stand the way she shoved her political rants onto readers by poorly disguising them in long, unnatural, lecturing monologues by some of her characters. That and the stupid, new agey mysticism ruined this book for me.
Mar 05, 2011 Lynne rated it liked it
Mixed feelings about this book. It was all over the place with numerous themes and issues--mysticism, meaning of death, childlessness, child abuse, grief over loss of parents and children, etc. She explores many of them but leaves much unresolved. I feel I am left hanging. Still, it was well-written and there was much that I liked
Oct 03, 2011 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it so much that I'll look past the new age-y auras and space-age speak. I couldn't put it down. Edith and Earl remind me of my great-grandparents. I hope I'm more like them by the time I exit than I am now. I gently cried through most of this book, leaving my husband wondering "why do you read it if it makes you cry?"
Mar 16, 2008 Elisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of community
Recommended to Elisa by: Publisher

wonderful! Deals with death, pain, redemption, mystery, Faith. I really enjoyed it. It shows how community and relationships can grow and change and die and all the messiness and beauty that comes with each of these processes. I put off reading this book for months, and am not sure why I did. Once I picked it up, I couldn't stop.
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In addition to being an author, I've been an archaeologist, a massage therapist, an art teacher, an elementary teacher. After spending a couple winters in Mexico, I've returned to my roots in Washington, wher
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“People like to say that time heals all wounds, but I don't believe it. I remember once Grandpa took me firewood cutting, and as we looked at the rings of the tree together, he pointed out the years where there was drought and the years where there was fire. So while time allowed for new growth that hid the scars of the past, those scars were still there, inside the tree, and part of the tree. I think about how I am like that tree.” 7 likes
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