Pack Of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People And Dogs
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Pack Of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People And Dogs

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  1,448 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Caroline Knapp is head over heels in love--not with a human being, but with her mixed-breed dog, Lucille. From the moment Lucille first locked eyes with Knapp through the bars of an animal shelter cage, the intelligent, pointy-eared mutt began to transform Knapp's life. Reeling from the deaths of both her parents, a breakup with a long-term boyfriend, and her newly won sob...more
249 pages
Published 1999 by Anchor (first published 1998)
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Barks & Bites
I found this book all too easy to put down, I'm afraid. I'm not sure why, I guess the reason is the fact that I wasn't a fan of the writing style or the author's extremely neurotic personality. The book, for all of its love of everything dog related, is rather a dreary read and somewhere around the midway mark becomes more of a collection of vignettes about dogs who become neurotic because their owners make them so. It almost makes one feel that to love a dog too much makes one incapable of havi...more
Jan 20, 2008 Meave rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with hearts
I want my Hoover back. This stupid book is so emotionally affecting, it's all giggles and fond memories and a thousand tissues remembering your life with your first dog. Seriously, I am crying now just typing this and it has been two years since I read the book and 12 years since the dog in question went to puppy heaven.

Living on your own is never as good as you want it to be without a dog.
I wasn't quite sure what to make of the book at first. I thought it was going to be along the lines of the McConnell books I've read: trained animal behaviorist giving anecdotes and scientific fact to back up her claims. That turned out to be far from the truth. The book is more about the journey one woman takes after getting her dog, a journey into a discovery of what being a "dog person" is all about. She does explore the bonds between humans and dogs, but from an entirely personal way. It's a...more
I wanted to read this book after reading "Let’s Take the Long Way Home," Gail Caldwell’s memoir of her friendship with Caroline Knapp, who died at 42 from lung cancer. And oh, also, because I love my dog so much and, in the past year and a half, she and I have definitely been our own little “pack of two.” Although Knapp acquired her pup, Lucille, on a bit of a whim to fill the void left by the recent deaths of both parents, the end of a long-term relationship and a newly-won sobriety after 20 ye...more
I wanted to like this book--the premise of a single-woman whose closest confidante and relationship was with a dog and struggles with confidence/self-esteem mirrors my own life. However, despite the book being only around 250 pages, it seemed to drag on and on and repeat the same comments. She constantly worries about what her dog is thinking about her and what others think about her based on her dog's training. She is so worked up over the idea of being the pack leader and showing her dominance...more
Jul 15, 2014 Levi added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dog owners past, present, and potential
Recommended to Levi by: my mother
[This review has been retracted. See it here:]
i can see now, why my dear friend in California sent me this book (to ensure that I wouldn't flit off to another book on my long list), and has been bugging me for a long time, to just READ IT!! I called her the day after I finished her, to thank her. There are only a certain group of people who would really "get" this book. Yes, it's well-written, and the only reason I've put it off is because SO many people thrust animal books upon me.
But this one is different. It's about the closeness that so...more
The first few pages made me wonder whether I hadn't written it myself, so accurately did it describe my relationship with my own sweet one. But her writing is far more beautiful than I could have managed. I still remember the day a friend loaned me this book and at the end of the first paragraph of the prologue I cried. It was that intense and cathartic crying that happens with grief. I really could not stop. It had touched a very deep and solemn corner of my psyche. And later I cried at regular...more
This is the creed one must take whenever one begins to read a dog book, The I’m-beginning-to-read-a-dog-book Creed:

I realize that the lifespan of dogs is significantly less than the lifespan of humans. I accept that when reading a dog book, the chances of me falling in love with the dog and the author then documenting the dog’s death are very high. I affirm that this dog book will make me cry while riding the T. Thus concludes the I’m-beginning-to-read-a-dog-book Creed.

Surprisingly, the dog did...more
I was drawn to this book because the cover featured a view of the back of a woman beside a pointy-eared shepherd mix. Author Caroline Knapp had written a memoir about her battle with alcoholism, called Drinking: A Love Story, and this purported to be a love story about her dog.

I was hoping for a narrative telling the story of her life with this dog, Lucille. Instead, I felt like I was reading a dog version of the early episodes of Sex and the City, when various women and men on the street addre...more
If Oprah picked a book club book on dogs this would be it! I found this book difficult to read at times--it's really a memoir about a emotionally troubled, recovering alcoholic who adopts a dog and discovers inner peace... But her evaluation of what it is to live with a dog as a single city-dweller is amazing. I just adopted my first dog two months ago and her explanation of how we bond and you become interconnected with your dog definitely resonate me. (I'm not sure they would have if I read th...more
This is a moving look at all the ways dogs enrich and complicate our lives, how we project onto them, anthropomorphize them, use them to cope with our lives and justify the decisions we make. The author found herself using the dog as an excuse to cut off contact with people, though she did actually end up building some relationships because of her shepard mix, Lucille. There are a lot of anecdotes about how maladjusted owners create unhealthy lives for themselves with the help of their dog. Sinc...more
exactly the opposite of the book i read immediately following this: 'merle's door' which was essentially a biography of a dog with a balanced (read - canine) life.

the first chapter was tough for me but i wanted to give the book a chance and pushed on. ultimately ended up skimming whole chapters just to see if the tone of the book changed, or a plot appeared, to no avail.

this is a narrative of a new dog-owner's neuroses and the evolving (obsessive) relationship between herself and the dog that p...more
On the brink of getting my own first dog, this was a sentimental look at the bond between dogs and owners. Knapp explored the meaning of the bond between herself and her dog Lucille, as well as the bonds of some dog owners around her. She talks about how the relationship with her dog has helped her to work through the issues with her own past relationships. I don't think this book will be for everyone, as a lengthy discussion of relationships isn't everyone's cup of tea. If you're looking for a...more
Not sure what to say about this book. Parts of it were great, parts of it made me want to groan. The author was clearly dealing with some serious neuroses (she did write a best-seller about her 20 year battle with alcoholism) and these come through loud and clear -- often projecting onto the dogs, people, and the relationships between them that she describes. I'm not sure I'd recommend this to people really trying to understand the relationship between people and dogs, unless you already have en...more
Initially Pack of Two was presented to me by one of the many dog lovers I follow on Instagram. I had no expectations for the content beyond having to do with dogs, and had not heard of the author before. As a dog lover, a dog owner, and a dog partner (my yellow Lab is my service dog and we are together 24/7), I endeavor to read as much about dogs as I can; working dogs, rescue dogs, training dogs, and studying the psychology of dogs.

So I was thrilled to find the book engrossing, and spent every...more
If you know me, you know I have a high regard for canines. My relationship with Abby, my rescue, is seldom understood; this book reinforced my conviction that people need dogs as much, but much differently, than dogs need people. Knapp infuses the book with anecdotes underscoring the tranformative power of a dog's unconditional love to help a damaged person trust again. I totally relate to Knapp, and mourn her death from breast cancer to this day.
What can I say, I am loving these memoirs by middle-aged women from Cambridge. I've been walking a golden retriever at one of my jobs, and it's made me want to get a dog as soon as I don't live in a studio and have a steadier income. It was also interesting and moving to read this right after finishing "Let's Take the Long Way Home," a memoir by Knapp's friend Gail Caldwell about their friendship before Knapp's untimely death.
This book is not the dog novel I had hoped for but still I found it interesting. I don't watch reality shows, but the tiny bit I've been exposed to makes this book seem like a queer version of an over-the-top reality show, i.e, Real housewives or one of those bachelor things.
That said, I can barely believe the extreme extent of neuroses these people display as dog owners and as people. I am a middle-class gal, actually probably more of a lower middle-class, and most of my friends share the same...more
Annie Smith
Pack of Two seemed like a book I would enjoy - being a "dog person" who currently has a golden and previously had another golden and then many collies as a child. Wow - I had no idea what I was about to read! It was a challenging read as the author had so many sad things going on in her life - the early loss of parents as the most profound. I was even more shocked to find out that she had died of lung cancer over 10 years ago. I hope she found solace at the end knowing she had touched many peopl...more
I'm a Caroline Knapp fan and the fact that she got a dog when she was a few years sober and named her Lucille, makes me like her even more! It was a good read and helped me understand the strong bond we have with our pets, esp dogs!!!
An excellent description of what it's like to get a dog as a single adult. I have always loved Knapp's writing, and this book is no exception.
I loved this book and I love Caroline Knapp's writing. This is a great book - and I don't even have a dog!
I love everything I read by Caroline Knapp
A joy to read as a new dog owner!
Although I did not always agree with Knapp's observation about the nature of dogs themselves - particularly those which seemed to be too reliant on a Ceasar Milan-esque notion of human dominance / Human-As-Alpha-Dog-Because-Dogs-Are-Descended-From-Wolves mentality - I could certainly identify with much of what she wrote about.

Caroline Knapp adopted her dog, Lucille, after having 'broken up' with her long-term lover, alcohol. (See her memoir, Drink: A Love Affair At that point in her life, Kna...more
If you have read Gail Caldwell's book, Take the Long Way Home, you will want to learn more about Caroline Knapp, the author of this book and also Gail's best friend.

I had written a lengthy review on this book and lost it when my computer just hiccuped. I have no way of knowing where it went in cyber space so here is a shorter summary.

I had great difficulty finishing this book because of its underlying melancholy. I got the impression Caroline spent her whole life trying to fill the hole where a...more
I thought that this would be just a memoir about the author and her dog; while that was certainly a lot of the story, I was happily surprised to hear the psychological aspects of the human and dog relationship. Her life is woven in, as well as her fears and emotions about her dog and others. I could relate to her feelings about her dog, particularly her fear of being left alone once the dog was gone. I had (and still have) similar fears about my dog, so I can definitely relate to that. It was es...more
I fell in love with Caroline Knapp by reading Gail Caldwell's "Lets Take the Long Way Home", a memoir of their friendship. I think I love Knapp as Caldwell's friend more than as a writer. This book is very similar in style to "Appetites", with some glossing over of pop-science literature and personal anectdotes and illustrative stories of (mostly) other women who have had their names and identifying characteristics changed. It makes me wonder 1) are the people real? Does she embellish to make th...more
Jose M.
[Spanish] Novela/Experiencias/Reflexiones, son las tres palabras con las que puedo resumir este gran (y tan recomendado) libro, aunque abiertamente puedo decir que al final me quedé con esa sensación de carencia.

Tiendo a, malamente, tener expectativas superiores a las que normalmente debería, pero esto radica en que no hubo una diferencia abismal entre mis anteriores lecturas e investigaciones con lo que escribe Caroline Knapp. Es un libro sincero, sobre la vida de la autora, su transformación A...more
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What's The Name o...: Writer in NY and her dog [s] 4 89 Aug 13, 2009 12:44PM  
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Caroline Knapp was an American writer and columnist whose candid best-selling memoir Drinking: A Love Story recounted her 20-year battle with alcoholism.

From 1988-95, she was a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, where her column "Out There" often featured the fictional "Alice K." In 1994, those columns were collected in her first book, Alice K's Guide to Life: One Woman's Quest for Survival, Sanity...more
More about Caroline Knapp...
Drinking: A Love Story Appetites: Why Women Want The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays Alice K's Guide to Life: One Woman's Quest for Survival, Sanity, and the Perfect NewShoes Facture

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“I'm 38 and I'm single and I'm having my most intense and gratifying relationship with a dog. But we all learn about love in different ways, and this way happens to be mine.” 16 likes
“Dogs possess a quality that's rare among humans--the ability to make you feel valued just by being you--and it was something of a miracle to me to be on the receiving end of all that acceptance. The dog didn't care what I looked like, or what I did for a living, or what a train wreck of a life I'd led before I got her, or what we did from day to day. She just wanted to be with me, and that awareness gave me a singular sensation of delight. I kept her in a crate at night until she was housebroken, and in the mornings I'd let her up onto the bed with me. She'd writhe with joy at that. She'd wag her tail and squirm all over me, lick my neck and face and eyes and ears, get her paws all tangled in my braid, and I'd just lie there, and I'd feel those oceans of loss from my past ebbing back, ebbing away, and I'd hear myself laugh out loud.” 8 likes
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