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The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A stunning new book about the role of animals in our lives, by a popular and acclaimed writer
From the time she is nine years old, biking to the farmland outside her suburban home, where she discovers a disquieting world of sleeping cows and a “Private Way” full of the wondrous and creepy creatures of the wild—spiders, deer, moles, chipmunks, and foxes—Lauren Slater finds
Hardcover, 251 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.08  · 
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 ·  130 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Man, I don't understand the Goodreads hate directed at this book. I could hardly put it down. It's funny how much I love books about dogs, considering I'm not a dog person, but this would make an excellent companion piece to Dog Years by Mark Doty. Only one chapter is about Slater's dog, but it is heartrending, and anyone that has beloved pets can relate. Humans' relationship to animals is something I've become a lot more interested in over the past couple of years, and Slater makes some excelle ...more
Lisa Wojcik
Mar 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
This was a library book sale purchase at a whopping $1 and as such, part of why I'm being generous with the 2-star rating. The title is grossly misleading. I was expecting a book about an adorable Shiba Inu, at least, or a memoir that at least focused on... you know, her life... with animals. Since that's the title of her book.

The reality was much different. It was a 200 plus page ramble about how she has tried to cope with her burgeoning mental illness and neuroses throughout life. And in fits
Aug 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried. I really tried to like this book. I put it down any number of times hoping I'd like the next part better. Gritted my teeth and slogged through the multiple errors in the section about her horse experience. A horse's brain is the size of a walnut? (Wrong. Horse brains are typically the size of a large potato.) Then later in the book when she is supposedly a veterinary technician and works with an injured swan cygnet, she says it has a brain the size of a kiwi. Maybe where she's from swan ...more
Kari Jean
May 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Painful. Took 2 years to force myself through it.
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-win
I won my copy from Goodreads Giveaways!

I really enjoyed this, but I have to caution people from being misled by the title. As intriguing as the title "The $60,000 Dog" sounds, Slater's writing is far from centered around dogs, or any sort of in-depth analysis of the cost of "pets" on our society. That kind of article would be better suited for an interest magazine piece or research paper assignment at your local university. And the subtitle "My Life with Animals," although broad, does not truly
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was given to me as a gift as I love dogs and have a Shiba Inu. With a title like "The $60,000 dog", had to be right up my alley, right? Well, not exactly...
With 80 pages left in the book and still no appearance by the Shiba Inu, I was getting slightly confused at how the author arrived at the title.
Instead, we get chapter after chapter about the authors childhood and other animals she had/met in her past. Some of it is hard reading, for example the chapter about her childhood horse ri
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: zz2012-read
Well I have to admit I mainly picked this book to read because of my love for animals of all kinds and especially because of my love for dogs. I don't know why but I was expecting a happy story revolving around the author's love for and life with animals but I was left feeling slightly disappointed as to how depressed the book actually made me feel in the end.

So much of it was just sad and very bleak and I really had to bribe myself to push on and continue reading to the end. There was also a lo
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting.

I especially love the sections devoted to the author's youth, and the beautiful way the author renders the scenes she writes about. Some of the words were so sharp and emotionally laden as to take my breath away.

It is interesting to me that as the author talks about her older self, I start to get more irritated or annoyed with her, to feel like her sensitivity is almost too sentimental, and aggravated that someone that sees such beauty is paralyzed by such fear.

Carla Law
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: free-first-reads
I can't wait to start reading this book, I love animal stories so I'm sure I will love this book. I won this book in the Goodreads First Reads and haven't gotten it in the mail yet, but when I do I will let you know how the book is!!

I've got to admit that this book took me forever to read. I'm an animal lover and have worked in animal hospitals for 13 years so I was excited to read this.

I lost interest in the story early on, I was expecting something much different in this book. The writing was
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
First read winner.

I don't know, maybe it's just me but I don't understand all the negative reviews. If the book description and critic reviews were read before you started reading this book then you knew what you were in for. I don't think it's very fair to downgrade the book just because it wasn't what you expected because you may not have read the description. I thought this was a very interesting book and had some difficult parts to read in it because of the content. This is not your "everyth
Shazza Maddog
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
The title of this novel is somewhat deceiving, to me - I expected it to be more about the titular dog. Instead, it is a series of chapters throughout the author's life, dealing with a dog her mother brought home, horses, wild animals, a raccoon, wasps, and, eventually, the titular dog.

I loved this book for the rich, descriptive words Ms. Slater uses to describe everything. I particularly got lost in one of the earlier chapters, when she described in great detail a pond she used to visit as a ch
Gayle Gordon
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really interesting read about the author's experiences with animals throughout her life. I tried to find out more about the swan with the prosthetic beak, but couldn't find anything about that particular swan. I found information about other animals, including a different swan, with prosthetic parts. It seems that Dr. Brumberg and Dr. Soth were ahead of their time by creating a prosthetic part for an animal. Now it's not considered all that strange.
I enjoyed the parts about the author's horse c
Dec 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love books about animals. This was not the case with regard to this book. I can stand a certain amount of neuroticism and family dysfunction if a book is well written but I ended up bagging this book around page 65. It just went on endlessly about things that did not seem to have any relation to one another or that were heading in any direction such as toward the actual plot. I never figured out what the plot was but life is short and since I still didn't kno ...more
Marie Fouhey
Jan 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
The subtitle of the book, My Life With Animals, made me think this was the type of book usually described as heartwarming, especially since the reviews said her writing was poetic. It must be the least heartwarming book ever written. The chapter in which she goes to horse riding camp includes a riding instructor who beats a horse so badly that his back is scarred. Her chapter on the wasp invasion of her house has her drinking the blood of a wasp she stepped on. I thought the poetic musings were ...more
Kathleen Peloquin
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really didn't like this book. It wasn't what I expected at all. It starts off really well and I liked her voice and her writing. However the $60,000 dog doesn't show up until the last 1/4 of the book. And in between the good beginning and the interesting story about the dog the author really gets bogged down in trying to make all of these philosophical connections between people (and especially women)and their pets and what it all means blah, blah, blah blah. I skipped whole passages because I ...more
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
As someone who lives with a cockapoo who would be considered by most standards to be lavishly spoiled, I found it interesting how little common ground I found with the author regarding animals. However, I think the reason this book might still be a worthwhile investment of time (assuming you are not one of those people who only wants to read books about happy bunnies) is that the 1) the writing is top notch, and beautifully thought out; and 2) the book is at its core thought-provoking, and might ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Boooooo. I don't think I have ever been so disappointed in a book. I always thought of "don't judge a book by its cover" as more of a "give ugly books a chance" thing but now I will remember that even a super cute cover can be on one of the worst books I have ever read. The writing was overly poetic for a memoir and too stream-of-consciousness to even have much of a plot. Also, some of her beliefs and decisions were upsetting to me. I only read the chapter about the shiba dogs and it was that ba ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
3.5 stars. I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.

This book was not what I expected, but I thought it was a lovely story. Slater's writing is fraught with natural/romantic imagery, which at times was downright beautiful and other times a bit excessive, but overall, she has a lovely style to her prose, if the pacing is a bit slow at times. I do think perhaps the title is a bit of a misnomer, because so much of the book takes place before said dog is ever mentioned; however, if you can drop
Catherine Thompson
In this book Lauren Slater writes, in a series of essays, about the ways in which her life has intersected with animals. The $60,000 dog of the title is her Shiba Inu, Lila, who went blind with glaucoma; at one point, Slater's husband figured out that the dog, with her medications and vet bills, cost them $60,000 a year.

I wanted to like this book more, but I was let down by my own expectations. I thought the book would be more about animals and less about people, and that's kind of what I was lo
Reading Fool
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways, 2013
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

This book is about the author's deep love for animals and how they have affected her life from childhood to the present. Written in chapters that are like short stories, the book chronicles specific experiences with animals that were impactful on the author's psyche. The writing is poetic, though there were quite a few spelling and editing errors.
Debra Duffy
Feb 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
A lot of insight from the author, but it seemed very disjointed. While she seems to imply having inherited her mother's neuroses, she only touches on this subject very summarily towards the end of the book. She also leaves the reader wondering what finally happens to her parents. There is no closure. If her bond with animals is the driving force in this novel, why wait until the end to tell about the bunny she had as a child. It seems like she left a lot of loose ends. ...more
Lindsay Foster
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Some people gave this book a poor rating because it wasn't entirely about a $60,000 dog. No, it's about her life with animals. It all leads up to the $60,000 dog. I enjoyed the book. Most of it was told somewhat like a story, but multiple stories of different animals that influenced her life. The end got a bit more factual and somewhat philosophical. It was a good read, even if it's not exactly what I expected. ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I'd have to say this wasn't quite what I expected it to be.
Although the book is written in a good way and the quality is up there, I just couldn't keep my interest in it.
I liked the overall message that animals and pets are not just that, there's a lot more to them then what meets the eye. However I just felt like this book was not targeted at me.

I received the book for free through Goodreads Firstreads.
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it
if you are looking for a heartwarming animal story, this book is just not it. Instead Lauren Slater writes a series of interconnected existential essays involving animals and their meaning to her. Interesting and sometimes nicely written. I think others have chosen this book thinking it was something other than it is.
Susan Jackson
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
I agree with the previous reviews. I was looking forward to this book, having read many of Lauren Slater's previous books and enjoying them, and was intrigued by the topic. I found it very difficult to read at times and not at all what I expected. Disappointing overall.
Vicki Haid
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
I struggled with this one. I loved so much of it and other parts I struggled to stay interested. This book was a challenge for me to finish. It now enters the shelf of started and couldn't finish titles! ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
This took too long to get into the book. I borrowed it from the library and couldn't finish it in my two weeks, not because I didn't have time, but because it couldn't maintain my interest. Sad, because I was excited to read it! maybe I'll give it another shot another time. ...more
Nancy Luebke
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book did not hold my interest.
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a first reads giveaway. I'm not a dog lover, but a cat lover, but cant imagine spending that much on a pet. I lost interest early on. ...more
Dec 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I only made it about 14% into the book. I wasn't in the mood for someone's introspection and angst ...more
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Lauren Slater (born March 21, 1963) is an American psychotherapist and writer.

She is the author of numerous books, including Welcome to My Country, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, Opening Skinner’s Box, and Blue Beyond Blue, a collection of short stories. Slater’s most recent book is The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals.

Slater has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them a 2004 National E

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