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A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  9,461 ratings  ·  1,041 reviews
In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Hyperion Books (first published August 1st 2009)
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4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,461 ratings  ·  1,041 reviews

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UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish
"To us, Trixie was more than a dog. She was a child, entrusted to our care so that we might find in ourselves greater tenderness than we had imagined we possessed."

I literally just finished listening to Christopher Lane’s brilliant performance of Dean Koontz’s poignant A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie, stopping only long enough to blow my nose and wipe the tears from my eyes before writing this review.

In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a belo
Nov 04, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What was it that made me roll my eyes repeatedly while reading this book? It certainly wasn't the dog, Trixie, who seemed to be a perfect canine ambassador. It was the author's "hey, look at how great I am" attitude that ran throughout the entire story. From the house that he mentions took 10 years to build (with several floors, in-home theater, elevator, "sweeping staircase", ocean view, etc etc) to Trixie's weekly appointment at the groomers (this is in addition to the 45 minute daily morning ...more
Susan Mangigian
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dog lovers everywhere
This was a beautiful book. Dog lovers, beware. It's a memoir, so it's not a spoiler to know that he writes about the end of his dog's life. Just about killed me to read it, but so worth it. Dean Koontz is a wonderful, funny and charming storyteller and not at all like I imagined him to be. He's silly and self deprecating and even though we are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as organization and neatness, I can imagine being his friend. He and his wife are kind, caring, funny and dog love ...more
Tom Mueller
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As a member of the and a lifetime lover of animals, dogs in particular, I know of the intelligence and emotional awareness of dogs. Koontz vividly explores his very special Trixie's emotions, self awareness and intelligence and moreso, conveys her impact on his life and the lives of all who knew Trixie.
I am honored to have been given a glimpse of Trixie's being through her and Koontz' writing during the time they had together.
I thank Dean Koontz for the solace he's given u
Oct 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I haven't read any of Dean Koontz's books, but was given this one by another dog lover. What a great story and he wrote this story so well. It made me laugh in so many places and I felt like I knew his furry daughter, Trixie. I think his insights to dogs and their intelligence (and everything) is really so incredible. I have been a dog lover and mom for most of my life and I share in many of his experiences with Trixie. He and his wife were so fortunate that things worked out fo ...more
Gary Taylor
Oct 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
Sappy pooch portrait produces cornball canine cartoon

Dean Koontz's attempt at nonfiction in A Big Little Life is a presumptuous and predictable love letter to his dog. Reading it was like being trapped at the office Christmas party by a co-worker whose kid made the little league all-star team over the summer.

But I found an escape. Just when I considered tossing the thing a third of the way through, I realized I actually wanted to see how the master of suspense would handle the death of his belo
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've never read any of Koontz's other books. I think he mostly writes mysteries. This book is about his golden retriever named Trixie. Guess where he got her from?! CCI! If you've read my blog you've seen the pictures of my dad and his wife's new dog Emma (formerly known as Marla). Emma was given to them by CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) because he and Trudy do fundraisers and other volunteer work for them. How surprised I was then to see how much A Big Little Life focuses on the CCI p ...more
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is going to sound cliche, but there is no other way to put this. If you love animals, especially dogs, you must read this book. My next statement is cliche too. The book made me laugh out loud and cry real tears. It really did. I have never read anything Dean Koontz has written, but I have become a fan of his because of this book.

A Big Little Life is the story of Trixie, Dean and Gerda Koontz's adopted service dog. Trixie is a golden retriever with so much intelligence, beauty, joy, and lov
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Endearing without any sappy. And an interesting memoir/dog-philosophical treatise by Koontz.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Trixie the Golden Retriever was Dean and Gerda Koontz's dog/child. Adopted after her retirement from being a assistance dog, she turned their lives into more fulfilled lives. That's the book. No need for spoiler alerts, you have to know this is the way this book goes.
Now Miss Trixie gets five stars from me. She was a stellar ambassador for her breed and for canines in general. Having been owned by several dog /children over the years, I can attest to the fact that my life would be so much less
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm kind of a sucker for dog stories that rein in the sappiness a bit but still yank the heartstrings. I listened to Marley and Me on CD during a road trip but was frustrated most of the time with how irresponsible the humans were in the story, although I did cry pitifully in the car for miles while the last part unfolded. There is only one way that these stories end, and Dean Koontz really hits hard when it's his turn. Do not read the last two chapters in public, as if you have a heart, then yo ...more
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. Capital L-O-V-E-D!

This is such a great memoir of an amazing Golden Retriever named Trixie! I have never read a Dean Koontz book before, mainly because he writes a genre that is not my cup of tea, but he is a laugh out loud author. There were SEVERAL parts of this book that I laughed to myself and read the story with a smile. I took my time with this book because I wanted to enjoy Trixie's life through her memory. She was indeed a VERY special dog.

I cried too. :( I had fallen
Ann Fisher
Jan 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
It's hard to imagine that a slight book about a perfectly sweet and charming dog could be so wretched, but Dean Koontz manages to write one. I've got two main objections:

1. The author's ego. No one has ever worked so many hours in every day and every week for so many years. No one. He has to tell us that the hallway in his house is lined with all the editions of his books--more than 5000 total. He has to tell us, repeatedly, how generous he's been to the companion dog program he supports and yet
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs
A touching memoir that I especially appreciated having two golden retrievers of my own, but any pet lover could appreciate it.  I could see my own dogs in the author’s dog, Trixie, but in different ways, including her angelic behaviors and her special ability to communicate.  Although the ending was sad, I loved how he concluded it so beautifully with his insightful words on how another life can impact us.
Dustin Crazy little brown owl
A Big Little Life ranks among my top 10 personal favorites by Dean Koontz. In this rare non-fiction work, Dean Koontz is very open, giving us a glimpse at how Trixie changed his and Gerda's lives. This work is filled with much to contemplate regarding the relationship between dogs & humans.

In each little life, we can see great truth and beauty, and in each little life we glimpse the way of all things in the universe. If we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the ordinary, we beg
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Last week, on Monday, I went searching for some new books to read. This in itself was not unusual, but the distance between my usual secondhand store and the others in my town are a few blocks, and I rarely venture into them. I walked into the Salvation Army, and picked up two animal books- saving cinnamon, and the dog that saved my life, as well as a few other fiction novels. I left the store with the feeling that I'd missed something however, and returned a few days later to find this beautifu ...more
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I seem to be drawn to stories about dogs. You know going in if you're reading a story about a dog, chances are pretty good that there is going to be a sad ending. Some of these books become terribly maudlin and you wonder why you wasted your time ("Rescuing Sprite" by Mark Levin is a good case in point), but then you come across a brilliant gem like this story of Dean Koontz dog, Trixie, and you understand why you keep reading them.

In his book, "Darkest Evening of the Year" (which I haven't read
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Dog lovers (specifically Golden Retrievers/CCI dogs)
Shelves: memiors, non-fiction
Firstly, I am a Dean Koontz fan.
I am frequently frustrated by his wordiness. His tendency to exaggerate to make his point. My eyes generally get a great workout from rolling frequently. In spite of this, I love his books dearly. All of them.
Something I learned from this book was that all of my very favorite of his novels were written post-Trixie. Silly maybe, but this instantly made me love her.
Yes, its sappy. Yes, it is most definately a love letter to his dog. Koontz is a writer. He writes.
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was very pleasently surprised with this book. It made me laugh out loud many times and of course I cried at the end. This is of course a memoir of a dog, so I don't think that's a To be honest I'm not much of an animal person. I have nothing against them, I just find that I don't have the time to properly care for one, so I don't think about them often. This book made me sure that I do not have the ability to care for an animal. I have neither the time or desire. But I wish I did. Before readi ...more
Lisa Lewis
Oct 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This book was passed along to me by my sister-in-law, so I felt I had to read it. As a long time fan of Dean Koontz, it was fun to read a book that helped me feel like I know him a little (he's a quirky guy - kind of OCD, it seems to me). This is not a typical Dean Koontz book, obviously, but instead, a typical memoir-of-a-dog book. Of course the dog dies at the end and you bawl your eyes out. And of course you laugh out loud in parts, because dogs do hilarious things and good writers describe t ...more
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, 5-star
For any dog lover, this is a great book. If you aren't a dog lover(shame on you)the writing is fun and witty and it's a great tale of love and growth and the meaning of life.
Now, really, you're saying, the meaning of life?
Yes, that's exactly what I said.
A life well-lived and well-loved.
Dean Koontz tells this story with self-deprecating humor and a sense of spirituality and enduring joy in the memories of this remarkable dog. Well, she's s golden retriver so remarkable is their usual, but Trixie
Dusty Burgmans
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is really a story of the private life of Dean & Gerda Koontz before and after getting Trixie, the release dog from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Very very funny, insightful about their lives, private as they are, and the amazing character of the dog. As a volunteer for CCI, I am one of the puppy raisers he speaks of in his book and proud to be a part of this this fabulous organization he so generously supports. I real MUST READ for any dog lover!!! Dean Koonts really is a br ...more
Mariah of the Night Court
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written book helped me cope with the loss of my beloved golden retriever. It was a memoir that was so full of love, just like my dog.
Eve Williams
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dog lovers only!
Shelves: memoir
This book is only for extreme dog lovers or those who allow that other people sometimes love their dogs like family. No one who has ever said or would say "It's only a dog." should read this, because they will suffer injury from excessive and extreme eye-rolling! I, personally, am a dog lover, so I could handle it. My father always says, "Never trust anyone who doesn't like dogs." :) I also happen to like Dean Koontz's writing.

Dean and Gerda Koontz never had children of their own. When they deci
Brenda Gail
This was actually the first Dean Koontz book that I have read and I really enjoyed it. Having been blessed with three golden retrievers in my life. Toby, our first golden, was the sweetest dog and grew up with our boys. When Toby was getting older, we bought Amber, our second golden. Amber had such a loving heart and then when Toby died, we bought our third and best golden, Cody. Cody reminded me of Trixie from this book. She was so kindhearted and got along so well with people as well as other ...more
To be honest, I’ve never read a book by Dean Koontz until I got this one for my mom for Christmas. She loves books about dogs, and I thought she’d enjoy this one. When I went up to the counter to pay for it, the lady there said she read it and really liked it.

My mom was pretty excited to get it for Christmas, and about a week later she told me that I HAD to read it. I got didn’t get around to it til last week, but I have to say, it lived up to her enthusiasm. I enjoyed it a lot. Dean managed to
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I don't know what type of book I was expecting. Marley was an okay book but it didn't have me in tears. I can't say the same about Trixie's story as told by her "dad". Dean writes with the same passion and degree of intelligence and insight we've come to expect from his novels and this book is no exception. The feelings he and his wife had for this darling Golden Retriever were palpable. I kept seeing Sadie's little face and that happy butt wiggle she gets -- Sadie is my son's dog -- and she has ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it liked it
3.5 stars... a neighbor friend loaned it to me; we both have golden retrievers. It's a pretty well written memoir of Koontz's first dog, Trixie, a golden retriever. Koontz and his wife acquired her when they were in their fifties or so, and when Trixie was about three and due to elbow trouble couldn't continue as a therapy dog. Trixie is totally darling and is a very well trained dog genius. The usual heart warming dog stories abound, plus a glimpse at fiction author Koontz's life. He seems like ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other
This short book describes some items I did not expect - Dean's growth in life & help from Gorda (wife) to begin writing. Then the importance, life style & love of Trixie to them. Her entry is later in Dean's life than I expected. Their loss of Trixie is fulfilled with finding the great niece of Trixie....Anna
"Other inspiration" section in this link, shows Dean's love with dogs, his dedication & support of the Canine Companions for Independence
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Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Dean R. Koontz has also published under the na
“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.” 401 likes
“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.” 162 likes
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