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, her first in a long line of Boston terriers, and fell instantly in love.
You Had Me at Woof is the often hilarious and always sincere story of how one woman discovered life's most important lessons from her relationships with her canine companions. From Otto, Julie realized what it might feel like to find "the one." She learned to share her home, her heart, and her limited resources with another, and she found an authentic friend in the process. But that was just the beginning. Over the years her brood has grown to one husband, one daughter, and several Boston terriers. And although she had much to learn about how to care for them-walks at 2 a.m., vet visits, behavior problems-she was surprised and delighted to find that her dogs had more wisdom to convey to her than she had ever dreamed. And caring for them has made her a better person-and completely and utterly opened her heart.
Riotously funny and unexpectedly poignant, You Had Me at Woof recounts the hidden surprises, pleasures, and revelations of letting any mutt, beagle, terrier, or bulldog go charging through your world.
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. A New York Times Bestseller, she has written Please Excuse My Daughter, You Had Me At Woof, Love at First Bark, and Friendkeeping and The Stars In Our Eyes (all Riverhead Books) She lives in Manhattan with her family and dogs.
"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.
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 first chapter, died very soon (mentioned at chapter 3 or 4). I don't like how the book just told that the dog had died years ago. And then this first dog barely mentioned. Somehow the role of Otto were abandoned after he was praised so much at the beginning.
Maybe I am a pure fiction reader, and I was expecting a continuous plot for main character. But I believe I am not the only that annoyed with the role of the first dog in this book.
Furthermore, I don't find the book hilarious or even a little funny.
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 discovery and eventually she'd end up married - but suddenly she was married, pregnant, and the dog was dead. She does talk about losing Otto, but it's not for another five chapters. Her stories rambled on and on, feeling more like a laundry list of actions than a narrative of events. There didn't seem to be a lot of point to a lot of them. The "lessons" were sort of hastily summed up at the end, but the conclusions didn't always fit with the chapter.
As far as funny, I suppose the reviewers had her same sense of humor - but most of the book seemed to be her complaining. She made things sound so awful that by the halfway point in the book I no longer wanted a dog nor did I ever want to aid a rescue organization. In any way.
Finally - and I hate to say it - she had absolutely no control over any of her dogs. They impacted her life, indeed. As soon as they came into it, she rolled over and let them do whatever they wanted. She'd just accommodate them. They could bite anyone they wanted, piss all over her house! She'd just be more understanding. I'm sure she's a lovely person, and she tried very hard to help other people and make life better for dogs. I'm sure she's kind and she means well. She just could use a backbone.
In the end, I finished this book only because I bought it new.
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 worked with dogs in need, she made plenty of mistakes but gave plenty of love. She had successes and failures. She shares the frustration of not being able to help some dogs as well as the frustration and anger towards the people who damage these dogs so severely. And she tells her story, and the stories of the dogs, with humor and heart.
I read an uncorrected proof so these quotes may have changed in the published edition:
Mattie was a wonderful aunt, but at this moment her concern was not for me. What concerned Mattie...was that I'd get this dog and not treat it well and then she'd stop liking me.
About a doggie daycare center that wasn't so good, she writes:
I was infused with guilt, and I wasn't about to leave him there again. Plus, he stunk like a mall pet store.
How do you go from a person who spends hundreds of dollars at posh Manhattan pet shops on clothes and grooming items to a person who leaves a dog at a shelter?
A puppy that chewed on things and wasn't housebroken? Why didn't you put it on a chain gang? It was mind-boggling....
The author also writes about the difficulties of finding the right home for a dog, and how much instincts enter into the decisions, about the death of dogs and mourning them. The book is funny and serious and will have animal lovers and especially those who have worked in rescuing animals nodding their heads in agreement and understanding.
[End of the book review but the beginning of a minor soapbox: If you are considering getting an animal, do your research. Don't buy from a backyard breeder or a pet store that gets its dogs from a puppy mill, hell on earth for dogs. Do consider adopting a rescued dog. If the dog is older, know that he has been abandoned for good or bad reasons and is going to need some time and patience to settle in. If you adopt a puppy, know that he is going to find your favorite, most expensive pair of shoes to chew and he is going to leave unpleasant puddles and piles of varying viscosity on your best rugs. It is your job to gently train him to be the wonderful dog that he can be. And consider adopting a mutt. If you need to call him a “designer dog,” go for it, but plain, old mutts make some of the best dogs in the world. Just ask my Maggie Mae who is snoozing with her head on my foot even as I type. End of rant.]
An advanced copy of this book was provided to me by a representative of the publisher for review. She is a dog lover, thought I would enjoy the book, and she was right.
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 whom dogs have given these gifts.
I really enjoyed Ms. Klam's stories and perspective. Her chapter on mourning the loss of a loved, dog companion ("Lesson 7: How to Mourn the Loss of a Friend"), almost had me in tears. It could only have been written by someone who has loved a dog, mourned his passing and remembers him still. She really gets it.
On the surface You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secret of Happiness might appear engaging only to dog lovers. However, lovers of witty writing, self-depreciating humor and personal growth journeys will also find Ms. Klam's memoirs enjoyable.
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, find love and make a family of her own. But that was not the case. In Chapter 3 she starts off by saying that when she was pregnant with her daughter, Otto died. I was thinking, when did you find a boyfriend/husband? You are pregnant? And Otto died?!? What? The book continues with the new Boston’s she encounters and how she gets involved in helping rescue Boston’s. I felt like this book was way more depressing than an upbeat feel good dog book. I was really disappointed.
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 you can tell, I'm trying to pigeonhole this book and not doing a very good job.
You will like You Had Me at Woof if you're a dog person. Let's just leave it at that.
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 sensitive than many, but training is such a basic need that I don't know why people don't automatically do it. We send 3 year olds to pre-school--would one basic training class with your new puppy kill you?
There, rant over. Really, after beating my head against the wall at the beginning, I started thoroughly enjoying the book. Julie explains rescue here, from the hours-long transports to the foster who is too crazy to the owner who shouldn't have a pet rock, let alone a living creature. Rescue is hard, and it always helps to have that publicly acknowledged by someone who can say it more eloquently than I can.
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 type of humor.
As has been said already by many reviewers, the stories are at times cute and at other times heartbreaking, but not in the way that Marley and Me was heartbreaking. John Grogan is actually a skilled writer and he managed to make the natural death of his dog seem powerful and deeply important, whereas Klam glosses over the unfortunate stories of her dogs in a way that makes your jaw drop but doesn't really reach into your heart. I just didn't feel that she conveyed anything to me; the book is supposed to be about how dogs taught her about life, but she fails, for example, to explain how exactly her first dog Otto taught her how to be a good wife. She just claims that he did so and doesn't elaborate.
I was also bothered while reading this book by the so-called "dog expert" author's total lack of ability or effort to train her dogs. And people wonder why so many dogs end up in shelters! It's because they're untrained. I wish more dog owners would realize that.
This was a quick read and it was worth the couple of days i spent on it solely because i love dogs and it's always fun to hear stories about them. I was grateful that Klam's book focused on her dogs rather than on her own life, unlike John Grogan's memoir. I do not think this book is worthy of its New York Times Bestseller status, though, and i don't plan to pick up another dog memoir anytime soon.
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 went and ordered her first memoir.
You should absolutely read this book, especially if you have, have had or ever hope to have a dog. But if you’re a cat person, read this anyway. It’s wonderful and you’ll thank me later.
I feel like I overuse this sentence, but I want Julie Klam to be my best friend. And I want her dogs to have playdates with Sam.
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, unconditional love, acceptance, appreciation, compromise, cooperation...you name it! Valuable lessons for living life! I often remind our "Tigger the Terror" just how fortunate she is that once I bring a furry companion home I am determined to live a quiet and peaceful life with them, no matter their personality, etc. It can be challenging at times, but I have never found any of the relationships I've had with not to be without its rewards...except perhaps that one dog...that ate my favorite dress from the clothesline and simply seemed "untrainable"... :)
After thoroughly enjoying “The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters,” I had to grab something from Klam’s backlist. New-to-you authors are just the best! This is a dog lover’s memoir of her first Boston Terrier, grueling rescue work, and eventually managing a family *and* four dogs in a NYC apartment. My love for this breed, too, runs deep - RIP Frankie and Sam 🌈. Warning: You will cry your eyeballs out, so be prepared. But you’ll laugh, too.
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 no path, but when a dog came into her life, it changed all that and made her mature as a person. I know there are many of us out there, myself included, who sometimes feel their path ahead is hard to see or find, and this reassured me that it was normal. I was also reassured by the fact that she was just as weird about being totally in love with her dogs as I was/am.
Klam's writing is easy, flows well, and is often hilarious. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, and I did my fair share of crying as well. I knew, however, that a book like this, whether well written or not, would get to me because it's about rescue dogs. My family has a rescue named Dude, and we love him to bits, so relating to Klam's stories of rescuing, loving, and losing her pups is that much easier. Sometimes I found myself asking "why was this information included?", as some random details were thrown in. However, after thinking about it, I realized it didn't bother me while I was reading, it only bothered the editor in me after the fact when I was scanning over what I'd read as a whole. As a reader, everything she put into the stories worked well together. I've already passed the book on to my mom, who lives with Dude, so we will see how much of a breakdown the stories therein incite...A good, happy, truthful read!
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 about Otto lasts only through the first two chapters. It seemed to end too abruptly. But the book is about the author's relationships with a number of dogs, as, following Otto's death, she became involved as a volunteer in a Boston terrier rescue organization. So we have stories of dogs that are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I give this book published in 2010 **** because I have always loved dog stories, going back to "Old Yeller." Moreover, Julie Klam tells her story with humor and shows how her dog friends made her a better person.
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!
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 telling you that the way they do it is right and the way you do it is wrong. Most of the time, though, the person being told didn't ask for the opinion of the person doing the telling.
When you write a book - an autobiographical book - you are, essentially, asking for your reader's opinion. Therefore, I don't feel bad about saying that this author is a nutcase. She is doing no favors for herself or her child or for her dogs.
1. She can't leave her dog at doggie daycare, because he's too well housebroken and he won't pee. Also, he doesn't want to play with the other dogs. She can't leave him alone in her apartment all day, so she quits her job.
2. The dog goes to restaurants with her, and sits at the table, in a chair, like a person. I think this is meant to be cute, but it isn't.
3. The first dog dies when she is pregnant with her first child. She knows she shouldn't get a puppy, but she does anyway.
4. The new dog is a girl, and the author says there is "some debate" on when it is best to spay. What debate? If you're going to spay, you do it before the dog's first heat. It significantly reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, according to my vet. Where is she getting her information from? Anyway, she doesn't spay the dog soon enough and the dog, who sleeps in their bed, gets her period. They don't want to dog to bleed all over their bed, so they put her in a crate in the living room. A crate the dog has NEVER used before. Of course the dog cries all night, so she ends up DUCT TAPING A DIAPER ON THE DOG and letting it in the bed with her.
5. She decides to volunteer with a Boston Terrier rescue, but the woman who runs the rescue says she can't foster a dog because she has a toddler, and it isn't safe since they don't know how the dogs would be with children. But then there is a doggie emergency, and she gets a foster dog. The foster dog, apparently, is the devil and bites everyone (this seems to be a theme - all her dogs bite. I asked around to some people I know with Boston Terriers and they say it is not an aggressive breed. So why do all her dogs bite? Could it be they need training?). When the dog bites her daughter, she finally decides that the dog has to go.
6. Lack of training is a problem. She talks about how she brought a trainer in to work with her first dog, and the trainer brought some little training treats. But then the trainer saw a plate with all these little treats (including deli meat) sitting out. She asks the author what that is, and the reply is "his snack tray." The trainer points out that she can't train a dog using treats when he has his own buffet.
7. The separation anxiety isn't just a problem with the dogs. When she takes her child to pre-K for the first time, the child cries. So she stays in the hall outside the child's classroom for the entire day. And this happens again, and again, and again. Cut that umbilical cord already!
8. The daughter does not want the dogs around. Probably because she senses that mommy loves the dogs more than her. She and her husband agree that they shouldn't foster any more dogs, because it's too upsetting to the daughter, but that only lasts a few months and then they're back to rescuing the dogs.
Look. I love my dog. I talk to her like I expect her to talk back. I let her sleep on my bed. I stopped giving her people food when she started getting too fat because an extra 10 lbs on her is very dangerous to her health. But dogs also need discipline. They need to know that you are the leader of their pack. This woman was clearly way too indulgent with both her dogs and her child.
Also, I know this is a book about her dogs. But it would have been nice for a little information to fill in the gaps. When we first meet the author, she is single and lonely. Then, suddenly, she is married and pregnant. She's working part time, then she quits, then she's suddenly a published writer. How did these things happen?
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 Woof so I could read it but now I am going to buy it so I can reread it – and keep it!
A 30-something woman working part-time in New York City living in a small apartment, without a boyfriend, gets a dog and, by Chapter 2, is married with a little girl on the way. She eventually becomes involved with a Boston Terrier rescue organization as well as the ensuing hilarious characters and situations that will have you laughing out loud.
Woof is funny, heartfelt, well-written and just about perfect – in other words, charming. And if you want a tear-jerker, Woof is that, too. From the senior dog the vet believes has Cushing’s disease but turns out to be pregnant, to the author’s daughter Violet naming the new puppies Wisteria and Fiorello, you will laugh until you cry.
But you will also learn about the trials and tribulations of having a dog and that being involved in dog rescue teaches us how dogs make our lives just a little livelier and lovelier and more worth living.
Somehow, Klam weaves just the right word-pictures to describe her family and their dogs’ antics and her new-found volunteer work rescuing Bostons.
Even when one of her own dogs dies and she waxes eloquently about the human-animal bond, her words fit brilliantly well together to explain what others can only attempt.
Woof is another 24-hour book. You will read it non-stop and wish there were a sequel!
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 communicate with animals because that was a trapping mission that redefined frustration. But it was a nice comfort to know that another reasonably sane person wondered if she could indeed walk with the animals, talk with the animals. Klam’s lesson? It’s always a good idea to try new things because in trying to be an animal psychic, she learned she loved telling the stories. My lesson? I will always end up in a field during a Texas rainstorm searching for lost kittens even if verified psychics tell me not to bother. Read my entire review here.
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 family currently has three Boston Terriers so, the stories were nice to read and I could relate but the hidden agenda spoiled many of the stories. The book does have some touching moments, some tearful moments, and some laugh out loud moments.
Aside from what I thought was a slight hidden agenda the book is rather good. But I have to dock it points for that fact. If you can get past that aspect then you are in for a treat.
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 rambled on for the last few pages of the book and then abruptly ended it.
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 daughter Violet and at one point she juggles four dogs too!
Overall, the book was okay but I just lost interest as I don't think the book was edited well to tell a story of growth of Klam's family and a continuous story about loving dogs. It was too back and forth with mentioning of other dogs without a nice ownership progression. I also didn't think it was as funny as other reviews advised. 2.5 barking stars.
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 for those seriously considering getting a dog and wanting to get an accessible depiction of what to expect or serious dog lovers.
Julie Klam's memoir is full of humour, heart…and rescue dogs! When it comes to saving canines in need (her breed of choice is Boston terriers, which are well suited to small-apartment city dwellers), she says this: "And more often than not, you don't end up getting the dog that you want. You get the dog that you need." Amen to that :-)
I liked this book because I love dogs and I love rescue dogs and I love reading about them, almost no matter what. Some books that you think are gonna be about dogs end up not being about dogs and that drives me crazy and this was actually about dogs so that was good. It didn’t make me cry but it did make me laugh.
I thought this would be more self help like or motivational- it was mostly a long rambling of a dog person in why they like dogs and their experience fostering. Mind you, I’m very much a dog person but honestly got bored in a lot of places. Half the stories didn’t even seem to relate to the point she was trying to get across which I was assuming the chapter title. Should could have brought the point back around at the end of each chapter. Wasn’t the biggest fan but I get she’s an amateur writer so it’s a good start!
Funny, heartwarming, pulled on the heartstrings, and just an all around good book. I’m not usually one for non-fiction, but I saw this book and gravitated for it… how could I not when I own a Boston terrier myself? I’m so glad I picked it up. It flowed nicely, and was real.