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You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  4,523 ratings  ·  662 reviews
The hilarious and heartfelt chronicle of a woman learning the secrets of love, health, and happiness from some very surprising teachers: her dogs.

Julie Klam was thirty, single, and working as a part-time clerk in an insurance company, wondering if she would ever meet the man she could spend the rest of her life with. And then it happened. She met the irresistible Otto, he
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published October 28th 2010 by Riverhead Books (first published September 17th 2010)
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Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You had me at woof" is kind of different from rest of the 'dog books'. While many of the books are usually about the life and adventures of one particular dog, this book by Julie Klam is about different dogs and their interesting personalities. It does feel like that the first chapter is disconnected from the rest of the book. But, overall this should not matter.

A good read for everyone interested in dogs and pets.
Sep 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I stopped reading this book after read a third of it.

The first chapter was strongly gripped me. It was a really "You had me at woof" fine writing, telling about Otto, author's first dog. I rated the first chapter a 4-star. If somehow you find this book at library, I recommend you to read the first chapter only.

But then for next chapters, I can't understand what is the connection between each chapter's title with the content. But the SURPRISE was Otto, the dog that captured my sympathy on the fi
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
I wanted to like this book.

I saw the cover, the adorable bug-eyed little dog, and thought "The reviews call it heartwarming and seriously funny! This will be wonderful! I love dogs!" The reviews were not entirely accurate.

The first thing that bugged me was her pacing. Otto was her first doggy love - but he barely lasted until chapter 3. He impacted her life so "strongly" but there aren't many stories about him. The back cover made it sound like Otto was going to lead her through personal discove
Susan (aka Just My Op)
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has ever loved an animal
Recommended to Susan (aka Just My Op) by: Lydia
If the cover alone doesn't inspire you to read this book, you probably don't belong to that elite and sometimes maligned group of people known collectively as “dog lovers.” If you dip into the first few pages, you'll see what you are missing. This memoir of a dog rescuer who never intended to be one is funny, touching, and ultimately satisfying.

The author, who lives in a Manhattan apartment, stumbled into rescuing Boston terriers and dogs masquerading as Boston terriers. As all who have ever wor
Lady Jane
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, nonfiction, dogs
A delightful, light, humorous memoir of a woman who catapults from being a single dog owner to being a wife, mother and rescue volunteer in Manhattan. Each chapter is centered on an anecdote from Ms. Klam's sometimes uplifting and sometimes heartbreaking dog experiences, then concludes with the life lesson she learned. She credits the dogs she has known for helping her to confront selfishness and open her heart to others, preparing her for marriage and motherhood. She not the first person to who ...more
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book was not at all what I expected. I’m not going to lie - I did buy it because of its cover since I am a Boston terrier lover. How can you resist that face!?

The back cover summarizes Julie as 30, single, and living in NYC and she is a rut and looking for love. Then she dreams about a Boston Terrier named Otto which she takes as sign. So she goes out to get this dog, whom she falls in love with. I thought this book would focus around her life with Otto in it and how he helped her grow, fin
Gary Anderson
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up based on recommendations in the media thinking it would be like Marley and Me and My Dog Skip. I like those books, so that would have been fine with me.

But You Had Me at Woof is different. The subtitle indicates that it has some life lessons in it. Those are not heavy-handed, and they arise naturally from the dog situations described in the book. Good stuff.

I laughed out loud in a couple of places, but this book's goal isn't non-stop hilarity. It's more thoughtful than that.

As y
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This book reads like a long email or a Christmas letter, and it's written with about the same amount of skill as an average rendering of the latter. There are quite a few emails copy-and-pasted into the book, in fact. I really can't fathom why Julie Klam was ever hired by the big-name magazines that she's written for, or why people think she's a "funny" writer. Just because you write about funny things doesn't make you a funny writer. Maybe it's just that i prefer a more witty or tongue-in-cheek ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I'd like to give this 3.5. It's engaging, funny, heartbreaking, and educational. Anyone involved with rescue, or thinking about getting into rescue should probably read it.

But gosh darn it all, I may just hurl the next book I about "a New Yorker who gets a dog and does all the wrong things but who learns and gets better next time" out the window. Can't you people do some research about basic training and obedience? I started training dogs in junior high through 4-H, so maybe I'm a little more s
Kelly Hager
Oct 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is about a woman who rescues Boston terriers. And, more than that, it’s about the special bond people have with their dogs. You might think that it’s a given that I’d like this kind of book, but I usually don’t read “yay, dogs are awesome!” books. I like this book because it’s great and well-written, not because it’s about dogs. :)

If you’re not a dog person, read this anyway. It’s not weird and all “dogs are better than people.*” It’s smart and funny and when I was a few chapters in**, I we
A very sweet little read. Though there is a Trigger Warning for death of companion animals, which is to be expected. We all must face the fact that we will most likely outlive our furry companions. Though Julie has dealt strictly with dogs, mostly Boston Terriers, at least in her adult life, I believe the situations and lessons she depicts applies to dealing with companion animals of any species/breed. They teach us many things regarding interpersonal communication and relationships: commitment, ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at a closing Borders, and figured, it's about dogs and the title is "You Had Me At Woof", how could I not like this? I barely had time to scan the back and didn't see the author bio. I lazily picked it up at home, and suddenly it was 3AM and I was halfway through. I looked at the author bio and found Klam was a writer for many respected publications. Through reading her book I had discovered that she had been 30 and at a job she hated (part time insurance clerk) and felt she had ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I saw this book in a used book sale, as a lifelong dog lover, I could not resist it, seeing the sweet little Boston terrier on the cover. His name was Otto and, as I started reading, I thought the book would be the story of the author Julie Klam and her life with Otto. Ms. Klam at the start of the story is single and thirty and living in New York--and looking for someone special. That someone was Otto. Looking at some reviews of the book, there was a lot of disappointment because the story ...more
jill crotty
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book had me at woof. This book resonated with me on so many levels. This author is engaging, funny and heartwarming. This book was like sitting down with your best friend and hearing all the hilarious adventures with a new family member. It left me wanting to be a process of rescuing. She has a supportive husband and family, which you need to to get involved with this type of passion!
Oct 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Everyone thinks they know the best way. The best way to raise children, the best way to raise pets, the best way to do everything. I've heard a lot of dog owners very pompously tell me, for example, that they only give their dogs raw food because dogs don't have kibble in the wild. People also have very strong opinions on child rearing. Everything from breastfeeding to spanking to letting your child sleep in bed with you seems to be controversial, and many parents have absolutely no qualms about ...more
Anita Dalton
I loved reading Klam’s experiences with pet psychics and her attempts to determine if she could become a psychic herself. It was a thing of humorous beauty, but I admit I approached pet psychics after a rescue. You see, we couldn’t determine if Patchwork Sally’s kittens were still alive out in the nasty field where we found her (she was lactating when we grabbed her). The pet psychics all assured us they were dead but we found them all alive and that was when we really wished we could communicat ...more
Dec 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010, bio
I good book but not a great book. The author lost a bit of credibility with me when she stated in an early chapter that she paid to become a pet psychic. Perhaps it is an east coast USA thing, but after that chapter I started to wonder just who the heck she was spinning this tale for. It seemed like she found a niche and decided to use it to her advantage. "I have a dog lets tell a short story and then tack on a deep thought at the end that ties it all up into a bow."

I am a dog lover and my fami
This is a memoir much in the ilk of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World in that the book is really about the author, with pets playing a secondary role. In both cases the pets offer support, but the issues really are about the people. I liked this book much more than Dewey because Klam has a sense of humor and is a more positive person. I felt the section reading entire e-mails of correspondence between the rescue workers was cheesy. It seemed like a lazy substitute for writi ...more
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Being a dog-lover, I love a good dog story. But this book and some of the decisions made by the author in it irritated me. She discussed several instances where her dogs bit/attacked one another and her young child, as well as instances in which she refused to find new homes for dogs she felt were too hard to care for. The book never got to the purpose of it's title, which was to tell how dogs taught her happiness....she never really got to the point. As well, the book ended on an odd note, she ...more
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness begins with Julie's life as a young, single woman with her dog Otto. I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters about Julie and Otto and was gripped by the story telling but then the book just spirals.

Klam skips ahead (and the will flashback) throughout the rest of the book with stories of her other dogs as well as her work with helping find homes for rescued dogs. Klam's family grows with the additions of her husband and her da
Steve Granger
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was hoping the author would transcend her own experiences to talk about the nature of dog behaviour and what they, in the broad sense, can tell us about the strong positive emotions of love and happiness (and other strong emotions, like heartbreak). While the author had some interesting and relatable points to make from her experience of independently owning and raising her first dog to volunteering for a rescue organization, the book struck me more as a diary-turned-novel. Recommended only fo ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book but didn't really see the secrets. I've had dogsall my life so maybe they aren't a big deal for me. ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Laugh out loud funny.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this two months after losing my Sheltie soulmate. I knew it would make me cry, and it did, which is just what I needed.
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started strong, loved her stories and lessons learned. Some stories went too into detail.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You Had me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness, by Julie Klam (228 pp, 2010, $24.95, Riverhead Books [Penguin])

Whoever said that you can’t tell a book by its cover was right! I passed right by Woof many times in my local bookstore and, frankly, just wasn’t interested after seeing the cover – wrong breed and a little dog at that. I am not a BostonTerrier person (like the cover dog): I’m a Golden Retriever and Lab person, a big dog person.
Fortunately for me, my local library has
Nina Sankovitch
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-books
Even if you are not a dog person, you will be a Julie Klam person. Reading about her life through the lens of her relationships with the Boston Terriers she has rescued over the years, I became Klam's fan, then grew to feel as if she were an old friend, and by the end of her memoir, You Had Me at Woof, she had become an inspiration. Her often funny and always fresh and honest stories about herself, her dogs, her friends, and her family, are at turns easy-going and deeply moving. By the end of ea ...more
Jan 21, 2011 rated it liked it
I had the flu this week, and did not feel like reading anything for a few days. I watched movies, slept, blew my nose til it bled, and descended into an unplanned and most definitely un-curative marathon of Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab. I blame my fever. Anyway, Art bought me this book for Christmas, a book I mentioned wanting mainly because of the cover, however suspect that motive. Not looking for anything deep, I dug in this week, and I'm pretty sure it took about 10 minutes to read.

The cover'
Feb 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Look at that cover. How could I resist that face? This just came in yesterday...I started reading immediately, read a bit at lunch and then finished last night. Obviously, a quick read. You don't have to be one of those people that cannot leave a dog alone to appreciate this one, but it helps. Julie opens the book with chapters about Otto, her first dog as a single person. Because of Otto's rewarding presence in her life, she decides to become a foster parent for Boston terriers, joining a Manha ...more
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was one of those happy/painful reads. I loved Klam's experiences with her dogs, but they reminded me of the pain that goes along with losing one. Having gone through that one year ago, this book was a sharp reminder that it sometimes takes longer than expected to heal, and only solidified my longing for another four-legged friend. I loved that she identified true "dog people" (not all dog owners are such), and reminds us of the awesome responsibility that comes with owning a dog (as in the ...more
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Live Video Chat with Julie Klam: Wednesday, 11/10/10, 2 pm ET/11 am PT 39 33 Nov 10, 2010 11:47AM  

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Julie Klam grew up in Bedford, NY. She has been a freelance writer since 1991, writing for such publications as “O, The Oprah Magazine,” “Rolling Stone,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” “Glamour,” "The Washington Post" and “The New York Times Magazine.
A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she was a writer for VH1’s Pop-Up Video, where she earned an Emmy nomination for Special Class Writing.
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“A very wise dog woman once told me that dogs find owners, not the other way around. They pick you and they choose to stay with you. In that way, they are also giving you the end of their life. The deeper the bond, the harder it is to say good-bye. I know I’d rather have any amount of time with a dog I love and suffer the mourning than not have the time at all.” 21 likes
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