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Dog Years: A Memoir
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Dog Years: A Memoir

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,737 ratings  ·  310 reviews
When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he brings home Beau, a large, malnourished golden retriever in need of loving care. Joining Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family, Beau bounds back into life. Before long, the two dogs become Doty's intimate companions, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandonin ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published March 13th 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Sep 03, 2013 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Koeeoaddi
Beautiful book. Surprising in many ways - the poetry of it; the poetry in it (a lot of Emily Dickinson). Wide-ranging, introspective: from the failure and futility of language as a way to understand another being (leave it to a poet to point out language's short-comings); to the power of love and art to keep us tethered and grounded and here, and to give us the meaning we need to stick around and to rise above grief and despair - the ever-present human condition.

(view spoiler)
...more
Lara
It would be redundant to say this book is "poetic." Mark Doty illuminates every subject he touches with the duality of hope and despair, love and loss. He resides in a world of metaphor, and for that reason he cuts into the difficult, the unsayable, with a blade of revelation. This is so much more than a dog book. We're given glimpses of a human life that is woven into and around the lifetime of two dogs. The immediacy that demands, the simplicity of love at its most basic and wild.

He describes
...more
Inder
Aug 08, 2007 Inder rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Melancholy dog lovers
This is really a book about endless heartbreaking loss, which sounds pretty depressing, and it is. But you can't have joy and love without loss. Since I have gotten my dog, this basic vulnerability seems more clear and poignant than ever. When you really give your heart to an animal, you know you are setting yourself up for loss in the long run, but the experience of giving and receiving unconditional love is so worth it. I'm a sucker for a great dog memoir, and this one is especially lovely.
Melissa
I couldn't get through the first chapter. Writing style was kind of academic, not fun, or story-telly.
Connie
Mark Doty adopted a second dog from a shelter when his partner, Wally, was dying of AIDS. The companionship of Arden, a black retriever, and Beau, a golden retriever, helped them both get through this difficult time. Later, he and his new partner, Paul, return the favor and give excellent care to the retrievers as they age.

The book is much more than just another dog story. Written in introspective poetic prose, Doty writes about love, relationships with both dogs and people, loss and grieving. T
...more
Peter Derk
As someone who is not really a dog person, a dog book is a tough sell for me. I don't want to say that I don't give a shit when someone's dog dies. But to be honest, everyone's dog dies. Either the dog dies or the person dies, right? And unless a dog wrote a book about his owner dying (has anyone done that yet? The owner dying from the dog's perspective? Holy shit: Cha-ching!) it's gonna be the dog.

So what makes this one different?

Well, it's not just about these dogs. Yeah, there are two dogs. S
...more
Ruth
I’ll confess right up front that I’m a great fan of Mark Doty’s poetry and memoirs. This memoir is wrapped around dogs for which Doty displays a deep understanding. Although he tips perilously close to assigning them human thoughts, he never steps over the line. He allows dogs their own particularly canine dignity, without trying to make them human or assign to them mysterious, otherworldly qualities. If you were as disgusted with the novel, Edgar Sawtelle, as I was, this is the book to restore ...more
h
a beautiful memoir organized around the two retrievers in doty's life. doty is, by the way, one of the great contemporary american poets. this book contains everything that his best poems do: wit, humor, self-awareness, communal-awareness, philosophy, warmth, sorrow. i cannot recommend it highly enough. perhaps the great achievement of dog years is that it is emotional without being sentimental. it examines life and love without pretense or arrogance.
Jami
This is just okay for me; I would rate it around a 2.5-2.75. As a dog person, I was expecting to enjoy this more. There are some tidbits that I found I could relate and some parts are moving, but sometimes the story is very disjointed. Also, I am listening to this on audio and the author probably should not be narrating the book; it may be more enjoyable in book form.
Tamarind
I didn't particularly enjoy this author's writing style, and he seemed to jump around a lot, but I kept reading because of his love for his dogs. When both of the dogs died, I cried each time, out of love for my dog, and for the he love he had for his dogs.
Nathan Burgoine
I rarely step into the world of the memoir unless I've met someone who inspires me to give it a shot. I heard Mark Doty speak at this year's Saints and Sinners in New Orleans, and nabbed this book immediately thereafter.

The book is clever - at first you believe you'll be reading "just" a story about the life of this one particular dog, but it's very quickly obvious that this dog, like all dogs, has woven his way into every part of the lives of his people, and the story widens and narrows in scop
...more
Marilyn Matheny
Exquisite. His powers of observation and ability to express them are stunning. He wrestles with grief in the way that one struck deeply by it must do. Why are we so unprepared for it? How does it change us? How do I go on?

He loses his lover after a long illness but is sustained by the presence and physicality of their 2 dogs. The death of these dogs as well leads him to dark psychological places. He is a poet and writes of the illness and the death of these two dogs as carefully and familiarly a
...more
Mel
After reading an excerpt from the first chapter and the book's description I was so excited to read this book. I love dogs, I love memoirs, I loved the comparison the author made of telling people about your dreams to telling people about your pets.

I read the first 70 pages, a solid third, and I just couldn't stick with it. While I enjoyed the individual anecdotes, it was so meandering that I just couldn't get hooked. A quick story about his current dog followed by a tidbit about his childhood d
...more
Stephanie
Jul 29, 2007 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dog lovers
This book took me on something of an emotional rollercoaster ride. Doty seems to be at his best when he is focusing on the details of the lives of the two dogs he recounts here, and what it is to live with dogs who are getting older. The pace is fairly breezy, until he describes the end of both dogs' lives -- then it becomes so painstakingly detailed that I felt like I was there with Doty and the dog in question. To be read with kleenex nearby.
Mary
Loved this...simply radiant from beginning to end. It was like reading one long, breathtakingly beautiful poem.
Patrick Santana
There's a nice wandering quality to this memoir. Mr Doty meanders over poems, death, Provincetown, animal traits, anything and everything that his path crosses in this meditation upon dogs and their meaning to him (and to us, collectively). His deepest thoughts settle around mortality -- and I found it a good read. There are insights here which come as no great revelation to me, as a fellow dog guardian, but still feel important to read, ponder, and absorb. And some of the chapters are plain fun ...more
Darlene
This is a wonderfully moving story of a man and his love for all of the dogs who have passed through his life. Mr. Doty is a teacher of poetry and a poet by profession and his writing has a beautiful lyrical quality which I loved.


Mr. Doty wrote his very personal story in a way which really resonated with me. He put into words things that I've felt but could never express.He talks about the grief that he felt over the passing of his lifelong partner from AIDS, the death of their dog, Beau, who
...more
Kaia Gondron
“Doty, Mark: Dog Years”
HarperCollins Publishing, March 2007

I am one to favor stories about animals. I have always been an avid animal lover, and I enjoy reading stories about things that I can associate myself with. Stories about pets are definitely stories that I can easily lose myself in and, for a reader, that is an amazing feeling.

Mark Doty’s Dog Years immediately delves directly into the topic of his novel: dogs. Any pet owner that reads this book will be smiling and nodding their head dur
...more
Kelley
So, I'm only on page 5 but this is beautiful. Mark Doty is a poet but he's written another memoir, Firebird and it's also beautiful. Already though, the dog-human relationship just reminds me of my mother and me - later in her life she was just all love.

Now far more into the book and it just gets more beautiful. Perhaps I can chalk it up to where I'm at in my life, emotionally, but I think this writing is empirically brilliant - Doty just has it down when it comes to naming things and describin
...more
Allison
A friend told me to wait 3 months after the death of my beloved Chihuahua to read this book. I did and began the reading on the date of Corduroy's would have been 8th birthday.

What I enjoy about this book is that it is profoundly the experience of one man, and yet every person who loves a dog understand the depths of the grief and so it becomes so much more than the grief of one person. This memoir becomes a philosophical reflection on love and loss, the need for desire and despair and how we hu
...more
Vid
This book is so much more than just a reflection upon the meaning of dogs in our lives, which is a worthy subject in itself. As a poet, Doty is able to express what is most inexpressible about the nature of relationships between 2 beings - in this case man and dog - and he also delves into the deeper realms of what it means to be alive and connected to this world. I know I will return again to this book as there is so much more to absorb. Warning: keep a box of kleenex handy. Doty's willingness ...more
martin
The first time I started to read this book, I gave up about 5 pages in. It's not an easy book, simply not one of those light, frothy human animal love stories that make us laugh and feel warm and ultimately make us sob at the end just before a few wonderfully uplifting final words. You need to read this one when you want to think and be challenged with new ideas and opinions.

I came back to it this month just a few weeks after our own much-loved retriever died and in the middle of serious age re
...more
Emily Crow
This book is presented as being a sort of paean to dogs, especially the author's two retrievers, a meditation on what is so special about sharing our lives with canines, etc. And it is, a bit; I can't deny that Doty loved his dogs, or that they played a huge part in his life, as this does come through in the book. And I can tell he is a poet; the prose is beautifully constructed. But ultimately, the book is about himself (well, it is a memoir), and his own intimations of mortality, and his bout ...more
Bookworm
I borrowed this ebook from my local library and pretty much read it in a single sitting. As Mark Doty shared his story I laughed, I teared up, and having recently lost my own dog, I related to it.

Mark and his partner Wally, are dads to Arden, a black Retriever. Wally has AIDS and is bedridden and dying. He was the one closest to Arden and the dog now sleeps in his bed, rarely leaving his side.
Although some thought it was not a good idea to bring a new dog into the house while his partner is term
...more
Bobby
Dog Years is a memoir of poet Mark Doty. Despite its title, it is not what might be referred to as a "dog book." That said, as you might expect, the dogs in Mark's life play a large part, a touchstone of an important sort throughout the book. You'll certainly find a deep appreciation of dogs here, but you'll also find love, grief, and a little bit of perspective on 9/11 since the author lived in Manhattan at the time.

But what I loved about Dog Years wasn't what the book was "about." It was the a
...more
Carol Stanley-Snow
I was moved to tears and smiles. Yes, all at once. I am a pet sitter and have a soft spot for dog books.

This is far more than a dog book!!! A memoir that is far beyond any pre-conceived ideas about memoirs. It's a story of life. Good, bad and beyond heartfelt.

My heart broke a few times and was filled with such love other times.

Mr Doty has a talent well beyond good writing. I thank him for this look into his life.
Elizabeth
i truly was touched by this book. doty has beautiful passages not only about the beauty of a dog's simplicity, but about the ache of losing a long loved companion. there are so many great quotes from the book that i found myself dog-earing pages to go back and underline the words. i cried more than once and doty's words made me appreciate and look at my six furry companions in a new light. excellent.
Robin Martin
This is a beautiful book and Mark Doty is a talented writer. It is simply a testimony to the importance of dogs in the world. My friend gave me this book after my canine companion died and told me I'd cry and cry when I read it, so I put it off- for 2 years! This is a lovely memoir. It is not sentimental. And only sad at all because it is so touching and truthful.
Meagen
Sep 13, 2007 Meagen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love to laugh and cry
this book should only be read by those dog owners who love to cry as much as they love to laugh. it's really well written; even though i might have had to put it down for days at a time (because of the sadness) i could not just not finish it. it's reminded me to enjoy tessy as much as possible NOW, since the time will pass more quickly than humanly imaginable.
Joel Bass
Doty strikes a rare balance between gentle and unsentimental, in this memoir centered around his relationship with two dogs. Lovely.
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Book Broads: Tenth Book 1 1 Oct 09, 2014 08:45PM  
Gorgeous & heart-wretching, as usual 49 27 Jul 28, 2007 05:57PM  
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Mark Doty is the author of six books of poems and two memoirs, Heaven's Coast and Firebird. A Guggenheim, Ingram-Merrill, and Whiting Fellow, he has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for Nonfiction. He teaches at the University of Houston, and divides his time between Houston and Provincetown, Massachusetts.
More about Mark Doty...
Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy My Alexandria Atlantis Heaven's Coast: A Memoir Fire to Fire

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“It's freeing, to think that there's always an aspect of us outside the grasp of speech, the common stuff of language.” 8 likes
“...in the face of all dangers, in what may seem a godless region, we move forward through the agencies of love and art.” 7 likes
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