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A Marriage in Dog Years

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  3,292 ratings  ·  249 reviews
When Nancy Balbirer learns her beloved eleven-year-old beagle has kidney failure, she’s devastated. She and her husband had gotten Ira as a puppy—a wedding gift to each other, and their first foray into “parenthood.” Now, her dog is terminal, her marriage is on life support, and Nancy is desperate to save them both (whether they want it or not). In a single year, she loses ...more
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published June 1st 2018 by Little A
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 ·  3,292 ratings  ·  249 reviews

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A dissatisfied husband, a neurotic wife, and a terminally ill dog.

Can't they all just get along?

I will not rate, as I'm throwing in the towel at 33%. I was getting pretty annoyed by all the New Agey, therapeutic wellness stuff. (A DOG PSYCHIC? Seriously?) This is a couple who looks only to external sources to solve their marital problems; they're on their THIRD marriage counselor, for cryin' out loud! BUT, when I read that they had NOT HAD SEX IN YEARS that was it for me. GEEZ! I'm willing to be
Jennifer Blankfein
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
AVAILABLE IN JUNE! PRE-ORDER NOW! Author Nancy Balbirer takes us with her on the rocky journey of life as we see her joy filled marriage filled with hopes and dreams blossom then fizzle, at the same time her beloved, terminally ill beagle struggles to defy the odds and live another day. This touching true story is told with honesty and humor, stirring up so many different emotions...well written in the author's voice, it had me crying and laughing. I'd like to compare this story to SJP's Divorce ...more
This book read like fiction. In fact, I totally mistook it for fiction throughout my reading of it. And after finishing it, all I can say is, God bless Ira.
The author chronicles her marriage through her dog Ira's life, from puppyhood through his demise from kidney failure as a senior citizen. It's a tale shot though with pathos and humor. While I was not a fan of either marriage partner, I give credit for the author's unflinching coverage of her marriage's agonizing life and eventual death.
Melissa Jackson
May 05, 2018 rated it it was ok

Way too many different words to say the exact same things over and over. Ira was the only character I liked.
Fiona Macdougall
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, raw and very open and honest. We all go through trauma in our lives but to be so honest is refreshing. It was absolutely devastating in places and relatable. Amazing!
May 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: autobiography
I’ve been on a good run with Amazon’s monthly free books for Prime members for the past few months. With two great, positive, life-affirming, building-yourself-up-again-after-great-loss novels (‘Digging In’ by Loretta Nyhan and ‘When Never Comes’ by Barbara Davis) in March and April, I was hoping my good fortune would continue when I picked the autobiographical ‘A Marriage in Dog Years’ for my May choice. It’s about a woman with a terminally ill dog and a terminally declining marriage. Sadly my ...more
Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
Thank you to Little a and Amazon Publishing for a free copy of this book for an honest review. This memoir details the author’s heartbreak over her dying dog and her failing marriage. Nancy and Sam have been married 11 years and have a young daughter. They adopted their dog, Ira, just after they got married. Ira is very sick and Nancy is determined to prolong his life for as long as she can if he’s not in pain. I have also had to deal with a sick pet after having it for 16 years and I know the s ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-reads
Here is a Whole-Foods-eating, cleansing-candle-lighting, psychic-consulting, horoscope-believing, chi-modifying, yoga-ing, wine-shop-owning, witch-seeking-when-stumped ex-actress-turned-writer’s majestic I, I, I! monologue.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly an incredibly sad interlacing of two heartbreaks—a dying dog and a dying marriage. But it was just, I don’t know, a bit too narcissistic to spark empathy. I love my dog and during the parts about Ira’s illness, I just didn’t want to even imag
Chani Knight
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like 4.5 stars. But still. This was a well written memoir that really touched on how we start to view our past and present when it feels like we have lost control. Also how we use different units of measurement - i.e. the dog - to try and quantify or even qualify a situation or timeline to follow what they’ve been through with us.

Our pets don’t live for nearly as long as we all wish they did, but it is entirely true for this book that we all are lucky to have our pets while we do. They are
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sweet and sad

So many feelings so aptly expressed in this book. Very well written and I could relate to so much of her story about her marriage and the horror of losing her precious dog, Ira. Definitely glad I read this book
BLS and QF
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and raw

I started reading this book this morning and couldn't put it down until the last page. So raw and beautiful. I cried and laughed and felt really connected with the author. This memoir reveals her marriage, the perfect beginning, the changes in careers/goals, the infertility, IVF, the lack of sex, counseling, sacrafices, the distance, and finally the end. Meanwhile it parallels her relationship with her dog who she got right after they were married. The story begins with the dog'
Melanie McKinley
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Happy at times and sad at times


I cried so hard at end. The story was just amazing I am still crying right now 😠
❤Marie Gentilcore
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this memoir and I thought the title of this book was clever. When the author and her husband first got together, they adopted a beagle puppy and named him Ira. As the book begins, Ira is nearing the end of his life and so is the author’s marriage. The events were sad but also interesting. I look forward to reading more by this author because I liked the flow of her writing, it was so smooth and never caused me to stumble as I read. It had an easy flow to it which I really liked.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This book made me really sad. The further I got in it, the sadder I got. The last chapter was a relief, and maybe that's the point. A lesson in letting go.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book really hit me. Very enjoyable although the points were tough. Highly recommend.
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok

The beginning of the book seemed light and airy, but as I got further in it felt stilted and tired. I don't often give up on a book before I finish it, but I did with this one.
Barry House
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
You're never supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I'm guilty of choosing this book by its title. A Marriage in Dog Years sounded like a book tracking the growth of a puppy into a dog as it also tracked the growth of a marriage from first blush to mature, healthy relationship.

But this book, which basically takes place over the final year of a dog's life - and the final year of the marriage's life - is an entirely different tale. The dog himself takes a backseat to the excruciating details o
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer McKenzie
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this after having recently lost a pet was not the smartest thing to do but it also helped in so many ways. The struggle the author portrays was poignant and touching. Juggling being a wife, mother, caretaker and having a career is real. Add in the ending of said marriage and the death of the one being cared for and it’s a miracle anyone survives. However the author seamlessly blended that which could destroy her and the strength she found along the way.
Beth Brown
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A marriage that has lost its way, and a beloved canine companion whose poor health does not stop him being a source of strength and love...these are the building blocks of this book.

I highly recommend reading this book...if you have been in a marriage or any long-term relationship, and if you loved or currently love a dog (yes it matters that it is a dog in this particular situation), you will find shades of your own experience in this book - and you will find you want to know where the author e
Pamela Scott

I wasn’t expecting much from this memoir. I chose it, by default because all the other Amazon First Read titles were a thriller of some sort. I’ve gone off thrillers again. A consequence of reading so many. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed A Marriage in Dog Years.

I was moved to tears by Nancy facing the death of her beloved dog Ira. You need to be a dog person to get it. A dog is more than a pet. A dog is part of your family. I remember how
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
This is not a dog book. There is a dog, but I think the book may suffer from mistaken expectations given the emphasis on the dog part of the synopsis. What this is is a book about a marriage dying a long, slow, complicated and yet utterly undramatic death. Nancy is wise and insightful. Some of the thoughts she describes having are the kind of thing that make you want to choke your (obviously delusional in your eyes) friend going through marital troubles, and yet it doesn't annoy because the stru ...more
Virginia Brown
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I cried

Spoiler alert... the dog does die. I cried. I ugly cried about the dog.
Much of the story is told in flash backs, frequent flashbacks that repeat themselves. Yet, I also see as our world falls apart, we keep thinking if I had chosen a different path at that that point...
A little tough reading because of the frequent flashbacks, but overall a good story.
Amy Palmer
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
She was the love of his life

I was ready for her marriage to be over long before Nancy was. I feel like she missed out on focusing on her elderly dog while she was focusing on her marriage to a jerk of a husband.
Sarah Morton
2.5 stars.
While I enjoyed the writer's voice, by the time I hit the last 40 pages or so, I wanted to throw this book across the room. My reasons:

1) The story of her dog, Ira, basically gets shoved to the side in favor of a seemingly
endless, repetitive account of the author's unbelievably toxic marriage. Page after page of trying to make it work, knowing it can't work, maybe it can work, can it work?, is it my fault? why am I beating up on myself? After a while, I wanted to slap her silly, tell
Tea Leaves and Reads
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've tried and tried...given it a month.. but I got to 55% and I just cannot keep reading this book. If books could be read in monotone, this one would be. I very very rarely give up on a book and have not written a review like this in forever - but truly, this was not a pleasant experience!

The title itself is what caught me. That and the fact that it was an Amazon 'first' - pre-release opportunity to read. I pictured the sort of book that could be written with this amazing title and I was keen
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won "A Marriage in Dog Years: A Memoir" by Nancy Balbirer in the Goodreads Giveaway! I love this giveaway - what a nice opportunity to check out new authors and books!

Anyone who has gone through a divorce or long-term relationship can really appreciate the angst, the sadness, and the loneliness that seems to go with the break-up and ending of a marriage. This book shows all of this and more. The book is not really about animals. It's more about a relationship that is breaking apart and the wom
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
"Because, as weird as it sounds, it’s an act of love to let someone go who’s meant so much, so they can get on with the rest of their lives."

I believe that one line sums up this novel very well. A Marriage in Dog Years sadly follows along as a marriage crumbles. It's told from the wife's point of view and the reader goes on the excruciating journey with her and her pain at not only coming to grips with the end of her marriage, but in that 12 year relationship, her companion and best friend, Ira
Stormy Bell
Mar 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
From the rating, I guess you can tell I did not enjoy "A Marriage in Dog Years."

This is a classic example of a coastal elite, self-absorbed navel-gazing memoir, which ropes in the unsuspecting reader by claiming it's a story about man's best friend and making it sound like a dog book. To be sure, Ira, the doomed beagle, makes many appearances throughout the book. But this is really the story of a failed marriage, told from one-side. This is not a dog book. If you want a dog book, go pick up "Mar
May 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wow. It’s a very messy book (being a memoir and all - real life doesn’t tie up all the loose ends) - it’s a whole deep dive of mess and honesty and raw emotion. I struggled... half the time I was thinking ‘why doesn’t she leave him?’ and the other half recognising my past self in her inability to leave and the avoidance/pretending it’s all fine/flipping between taking full responsibility and not/wanting to be the perfect person for someone else and absolutely hating myself for it. Overall it mad ...more
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Nancy Balbirer is a writer and performer of stage and screen. She is the author of "Take Your Shirt Off and Cry." She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Find her on Instagram: @nancybalbirer

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