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A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,272 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Steven Kotler was forty years old, single, and facing an existential crisis when he met Lila, a woman devoted to animal rescue. "Love me, love my dogs" was her rule, and Steven took it to heart. Spurred to move by a housing crisis in Los Angeles, Steven, Lila, and their eight dogs—then ten, then twenty, and then they lost count—bought a postage-stamp-size farm in Chimayo, ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Tantor Media (first published 2010)
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Feb 20, 2011 Brittany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are very few books that I finish actually speechless. Most of the time, in the course of reading, I make a few notes of things I want to be sure to include in the review. Not this one. This one swept me away so completely I could only read, I couldn't even think about the experience of reading, and reviewing was entirely out of the question.

Starkly, this book is the story of what happens to one man's life when, in his 40s, he realizes that his high-flying journalist life in LA just isn't c
Mar 13, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

A Goodreads friend recommended I read this book, and I must say I'm glad I did. Written by a professional writer and dog-lover, A Small Furry Prayer recounts the work of a husband and wife team of dog rescuers, a couple who adopt dogs slated for death at animal shelters in order to give them a last chance at rehabilitation and adoption, or at the very minimum a happy and loving home during their last months of life.

Interestingly, I recently finished The Evolution of Brun
Wow -- I've got a lot to say in this review, and it's hard to know where to start . . . I guess I should say first that I won this in a First Reads giveaway. Thanks!

I signed up for this giveaway on a whim -- I like animals (although I prefer horses to dogs), but a memoir about animal rescue wouldn't necessarily be my first choice. But the idea intrigued me, and I figured I'd just pass the book along to my sister when I'd finished it. Well, sorry, Q, you're going to have to pick up your own copy
Nov 20, 2011 Kourtney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was recommended this book on Amazon when I was buying the book about what happened to the dogs in Michael Vick's horrible case. I had put both books on my shelf until I knew there would be a day where I could cry myself senseless and not have to worry about anyone seeing my puffy eyes. I pulled this book off of the shelf on a whim and decided to give it a go.

The stories that Steven Kotler tells about the actual dog rescue and how it started was great. I volunteer at a no-kill shelter, so I cou
Larry Strattner
Dec 11, 2010 Larry Strattner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love dog books. I read all dog books. I read dog books from training books, to breed tomes, to stuff like Marley and Dog On It,(a good detective story by the way).

If you read dog books too this book is a must. It is the best mixture of story and science about, or related to, dogs I have read in a long time.

The author is a rescuer. He gets a lot of chiuauas at his rescue operation. If I never saw another chiuaua it would be too soon. In spite of this bias I loved the book and the dogs who dropp
Darcia Helle
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I laughed and cried. I didn't want it to end.

Kotler didn't set out to be a hero to unwanted dogs. That role came to him, first with a dog named Ahab, then with a woman who said that to love her meant loving her dogs. But this is more than a story about dogs. It's about a man finding his purpose through and with these dogs, about what it means to be human, about compassion and love and what's truly important in life. This book touched me all
Jun 25, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually like dog rescue stories because they are all allike: sad dog in dire circumstances, sad human, human saves dog and thus saves him/her self. Read one, read them all.

This one is different. For one thing, it's funny. Also the suthor is a professional writer and it shows: very smooth, evocative. And he has lots to say on lots of subjects besides dogs: donkeys, trickster figures, the drug raid on the neighbor's house...

And he likes dogs, but likes them without sentimetality, as indivi
Feb 20, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts off as a great book about dog rescue and the "magic" that is the relationship between dogs and humans. Then becomes a book about the magic of shamanism and talking animals. (No, I'm not kidding.) When it's about dogs it's great; when pontificating about the connection between souls and the universe (or whatever) it's insufferable.
Nov 16, 2011 Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply amazing. So much more than a dog book, this book is so well written and covers so many areas and topics, but all ties back into the dogs. Absolutely wonderful.
Nov 19, 2012 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I expected this book to be more about dogs & rescue than all the weird ramblings it ended up being. I rarely don't finish a book but I gave up on this one.
Ray Campbell
Apr 16, 2014 Ray Campbell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
This is a beautiful book! Kotler is a writer who retires from modern life in order to rescue dogs with his wife. The book begins with the sort of sentimental reflections one would expect given the book title, but he quickly goes beyond into an unexpected spiritual journey.

Kotler is well read and writes well. He has done a ton of research on life, the universe and dogs. As he descends into the world of rescuing dogs, he ties his experiences to philosophy, psychology and spirituality. Kotler quot
May 28, 2012 Nina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic. Probably one of the best books I've read in quite a while.

First off, it was not at all what I expected it to be. I was expecting, admittedly, without doing much research on the book first as I received it for free, a sappy story about a dog rescue, compiled mostly of stories of individual dogs. Although there is a component of that in this book, the larger part is comprised of an exploration into the science and philosophy of animal psychology and the human/animal bond.
Jul 11, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-life
I listened to A Small Furry Prayer on my commute back and forth to work. I'd find myself so engrossed in what was being said, that I'd realize 10 minutes had passed, and I had reached my destination!

Not only is this a story about dog rescue, but it's also the philosophy and scientific research behind animals, dogs in particular. I learned that the panting noise my Chihuahua Zuzu makes when she's playing with me, and that she joins in with me when I make the noise, is actually doggie laughter. I
I won this book in a First Reads giveaway, and I tried really hard to get into it, but I eventually gave up. I really wanted to read this book as I love reading books about how dogs and pets can change a person's life. But, after getting about 1/4 of the way through the book, I had had enough.

I loved the fact that the author and Joy take in so many dogs, but I just could not relate to either person/character. I couldn't get past the narrator's/author's arrogance and selfishness. He constantly co
Jun 20, 2012 Audrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the story itself was one that was entertaining and enlightening, most of the book wasn't necessarily about the story.

I suppose the title really gives away what the book will be about, but more emphasis should be placed on the "meaning of life" part, since that is what Steven Kotler focused on more.

The basic plot behind this book is that Steven and his girlfriend, Joy find themselves struggling financially when their landlord in LA decides to sell the property and evict them. The problem
Michelle Jones Urfer
Okay, this book was just a little weird..... I wanted to hear more stories about the dogs, and instead had to read through a lot of the author's bizarre "meaning of life" thoughts......many of which were beyond strange..... "shape-shifting"? Really? I loved hearing about how he acquired many of the dogs - and I loved hearing about how they overcame of lot of fear issues w/ some of the dogs - and I cried when I read about those who didn't live to see their forever homes....but it was tough for me ...more
Oct 24, 2010 Naomi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I won this book on First Reads and, probably with this review, will never win another one! I must say I had a very difficult time with this book. I thought it was going to be different than it was. It ended up going on very diffent tangents, from rescue, gay animals to animal psychology, with very little focused in the nuances of animal rescue. It was simply all over the place. I thought it was poorly formed and written from someone who is a professional writer. Sorry.
Jane Petermeier
Apr 17, 2013 Jane Petermeier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have always felt that humans have a deep connection to animals, and animals are connected to us and other animals, a connection that cannot be explained... read this book. Full of amazing facts, great theories and heartwarming stories. It's spiritual, educational and philosophical. There are Chapters that will leave you with a feeling of "Huh, really??" or perhaps..."how cool is that?"
Feb 25, 2015 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of anecdotes about dogs interspersed with deep inquiry into big spiritual questions. It could well have been called "Zen And The Art of Dog Rescue Maintenance". I loved every moment of it, and I don't think I'll ever look at a dog in quite the same way ever again,
Jul 06, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what a lovely book! if you love dogs, you should read this. if you know someone who loves dogs, you should read this. if you've ever wondered why people love dogs - read this! excellent!
Christy Johnson
Jul 24, 2015 Christy Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle (In Libris Veritas)
As with the other ARCs I have reviewed please keep in mind that the page count and a few details I may mention may or may not be the same as the actual text. Now on to the review. I personally did not enjoy this book the way I had hoped. The author does have a talent for writing and his style is fluid, precise, and quick paced. However, I can't stand when people interrupt stories...especially if it's their own story. There were a lot of very interesting, cute, sad, and touching stories about the ...more
Nov 15, 2010 chrissysg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially, even before receiving the book, I didn't think this was the type of book I'd normally read. I actually have allergies to animals and a phobia, I must admit. Also, I haven't grown up in a family that considered pets a priority in life. However, I choose to remain open and want to be able to gain new experiences in life, so I opted to choose this book and was fortunate enough to win a copy.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised! This author is certainly deep, creative, honest, and funny all i
Dec 21, 2011 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, dog-cat-bird
I have been turning over and over again about how to write this review. To me, there were two books in one. One book is about the personal experiences of the couple with the dog rescue in northern Arizona and the other is related or not sometimes not of philosophy of religion and animal research.

The part that I enjoyed was the telling of Joy, Steven Kotler’s almost saint like wife and his relationship to her and the dogs. Both of them had chronic illnesses. She has Lupus and he has Lyme disease.
Oct 11, 2010 Leilani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs
At first the author's writing style annoyed me - it seemed glib, rushed, overly self-conscious. He kept brushing by intriguing ideas and leaving them after just a few paragraphs. After a while, however, I grew to appreciate his exploration of a wide variety of ideas. The section about biotic egalitarianism was especially interesting. And the portraits of individual dog personalities were vivid and winning. (The descriptions of local animal cruelty were difficult to read, though.)

I'm still annoye
Dec 29, 2011 Ponch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so disappointed. I am a huge fan of animal rescues (I worked for one and have volunteered for one as well) and I really wanted to like this book. Actually that is too harsh in a way. I did not finish reading the book. I could definitely tell it was written by a reporter and I found it to be very wordy. I loved the concept or the book and a really valued the information that I received in the first 70 pages. Unfortunately, I kind of felt like I was studying when I was reading this book. It r ...more
Nov 04, 2014 Melodie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those love or hate it books. Being involved in dog rescue for some years now, I fall into the love it category. Or at least the Like It category.
To those not involved in animal rescue, the thought processes of those who are remain a perpetual mystery. Mr. Kotler attempts to shed some light on that. There is plenty of history and anthropological studies that he discusses in relation to rescue and the complex relationship that we have with other species. Sound dry as dirt? Well, w
Lea Ann Murphy
May 08, 2014 Lea Ann Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Much more than another dog story!

Not only will this book touch your heart as a true story about several of (wo)man's best friends, it is also a great book about philosophy, ethics, and neuroscience. It will broaden your horizons. This book challenges the reader on several levels, including your ideology on humanity, ethics, and stewardship as it pertains to animals as well as the finite resources we all share. It forces the reader to stretch your current belief system in many ways. My only
This is the first book I've won through goodreads. What a treat to get it in the mail. Though I found the author to be a bit self-indulgent at times I loved the stories about the animals and wish he would have just stuck to the facts instead of throwing in his philosophical ideals. Simply presenting the facts of animal rescue and letting the reader make their own conclusions would have left more of an impact. I wish all of us could take time out of our lives to help animals in need. This book is ...more
Nov 04, 2011 Laurie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life by Steven Kotler
I have to say the author's writing style annoyed me a liitle, he kept touching ideas and leaving them after just a few paragraphs, then there would be what seems to be a a essay on the research about dogs and their benefits to humans and then on to the next event. I liked the story about Joy and himself help all these dogs and the events that happen but I felt there was alot of it that was I want Joy so I have to do this,
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Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and co-founder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project. His books include the non-fiction works "The Rise of Superman," "Abundance," "A Small Furry Prayer" "West of Jesus," and the novel "The Angle Quickest for Flight." His work has been translated into more than 30 languages. His articles have appeared in ...more
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“When people say that animal rescuers are crazy, what they really mean is that animal rescuers share a number of fundamental beliefs that makes them easy to marginalize. Among those is the belief that Rene Descartes was a jackass.” 30 likes
“It was a silly time to try to make a living out of words, but it was a silly time in general.” 4 likes
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