Susan's Reviews > You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness

You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam
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Aug 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: goodreads-authors, personal_memoir_biography, arc-edition, animals
Recommended to Susan by: Lydia
Recommended for: Anyone who has ever loved an animal
Read from August 13 to 15, 2010 — I own a copy

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.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Tara Chevrestt Superb review! And love your rant. So very true. I am infuriated when I hear stories of people that buy dogs and within a year, the little pooch has seen three different homes, not received a single shot or been spayed. I was a completely ignorant pet owner when I got my Lola, but we learned together and she has never known any other home. People give up too quick. Would they drop their kids off at the orphanage just cause it makes too much noise on the blast trampoline in their backyard?


Susan Thanks. People who abuse, even by neglect, those who depend on them are obviously one of my hot buttons. Kids, animals, dependent elders, those who are not able to take care of themselves -- it's all the same.

Uhoh, I'm starting to rant again....


Julie I loved this review, too! Thank you so much Susan!! In the past month I've found two dogs in Manhattan abandoned, tied to trees in the hot sun, no water, and every time I keep wondering when it will stop surprising me. Thanks so much for your good heart!


Susan How sad! Here in the mountains, people abandon them to "live in the wild" where they starve or are killed by other animals. I wish people who are not willing to commit to caring for an animal for its lifetime would not get them.

I love your profile picture -- two dogs determined to go in opposite directions and one who is not sure that you all should be going anywhere.

Thank you for all that you do for the animals.


Tara Chevrestt Colorado doesn't have a Rescue Ink organization, but New York does. Julie, if you see a dog that needs rescueing and you can't handle it yourself, call them guys. They have a website and a book Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck,and a Few Turtles


Ramona Honan Great review. //owner of a mutt


Susan Mutts are so terrific!


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