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Thursday, October 20, 2011


Disclosure: I have been compensated for my participation in this BlogHer Book Club discussion, but the opinions expressed are 100% my own.

I come from a family of "dog people." Growing up, we always had dogs and they were usually Boston Terriers.

So Julie Klam's advance copy of "Love at First Bark" seemed like the perfect read for me. Klam loves dogs. Klam has Bostons.

Klam also must have a really great editor because her first book is apparently a New York Time's Best-Seller. "Love at First Bark" comes across as a very amateur book. I know it's still under-going edits, but I was shocked that a draft of such poor caliber could be mass-produced for pre-screening. And I wondered how something else she has written could be a chart-topper. Too often Klam attempted to recall entire conversations between herself and fellow dog-rescuers, and it resulted in a dry read. What I expected from this book was insight into her experiences rescuing dogs.

Despite the technical difficulties with the book, I do appreciate the story Klam is trying to tell. She is an advocate for dogs. She does all that she can to rescue and re-home animals that deserve a second chance (or sometimes a third!). She does successfully recall an experience in Louisiana that had me actually experiencing emotion as I read the account of an adventurous (and eventually successful) rescue of a dog with its head stuck in a jar.

The subtitle of Klam's book is "How saving a dog can sometimes help you save yourself," and I didn't glean that message from the advance copy. She did allude to having some marital trials and I think she was trying to say that by including her husband in some of her rescues, they were brought closer together. For the most part though, Klam's obsession with bringing home rescue dogs on a temporary basis seemed to be both frustrating and the norm to her husband Paul. Perhaps she's trying to say that dogs brought them all closer together, regardless of the challenges of house-breaking, feeding, walking and finding space for all of them. I just can't be sure.

After reading this advance copy, I can promise I won't bother reading the final edit. The book came across as having multiple personalities; in part, Klam seemed to be trying to write a memoir about the family's experiences in New York; another personality of the book was dog-rescuing; still another was sending her own pets to puppy boot camp. I just couldn't figure out who this book was.

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