My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Expected publication: November 20th 2012 by Beacon Press
(first published March 12th 2012)
Synopsis (Be warned, it's a long one...):
'From the time she is nine years old, biking to the farmland outside her suburban home, where she discovers a disquieting world of sleeping cows and a “Private Way” full of the wondrous and creepy creatures of the wild—spiders, deer, moles, chipmunks, and foxes—Lauren Slater finds in animals a refuge from her troubled life. As she matures, her attraction to animals strengthens and grows more complex and compelling even as her family is falling to pieces around her. Slater spends a summer at horse camp, where she witnesses the alternating horrific and loving behavior of her instructor toward the animals in her charge and comes to question the bond that so often develops between females and their equines. Slater’s questions follow her to a foster family, her own parents no longer able to care for her. A pet raccoon, rescued from a hole in the wall, teaches her how to feel at home away from home. The two Shiba Inu puppies Slater adopts years later, against her husband’s will, grow increasingly important to her as she ages and her family begins to grow.
Slater’s husband is a born skeptic and possesses a sternly scientific view of animals as unconscious, primitive creatures, one who insists “that an animal’s worth is roughly equivalent to its edibility.” As one of her dogs, Lila, goes blind and the medical bills and monthly expenses begin to pour in, he calculates the financial burden of their canine family member and finds that Lila has cost them about $60,000, not to mention the approximately 400 pounds of feces she has deposited in their yard. But when Benjamin begins to suffer from chronic pain, Lauren is convinced it is Lila’s resilience and the dog’s quick adaptation to her blindness that draws her husband out of his own misery and motivates him to try to adjust to his situation. Ben never becomes a true believer or a die-hard animal lover, but his story and the stories Lauren tells of her own bond with animals convince her that our connections with the furry, the four-legged, the exoskeleton-ed, or the winged may be just as priceless as our human relationships.
The $60,000 Dog is Lauren Slater’s intimate manifesto on the unique, invaluable, and often essential contributions animals make to our lives. As a psychologist, a reporter, an amateur naturalist, and above all an enormously gifted writer, she draws us into the stories of her passion for animals that are so much more than pets. She describes her intense love for the animals in her life without apology and argues, finally, that the works of Darwin and other evolutionary biologists prove that, when it comes to worth, animals are equal, and in some senses even superior, to human beings.'
Well I have to admit I mainly picked this book to read because of my love for animals of all kinds and especially because of my love for dogs. I don't know why but I was expecting a happy story revolving around the author's love for and life with animals but I was left feeling slightly disappointed as to how depressed the book actually made me feel in the end.
So much of it was just sad and very bleak and I really had to bribe myself to push on and continue reading to the end. There was also a lot of overly descriptive writing that did have a tendency to go a little overboard and drag on quite a bit. This also made it extremely hard to keep on reading without wanting to skip several pages ahead just to get to the point or see what was going to happen next.
There are some good points made in this book about animals not just being stupid creatures that are incapable of feelings like human beings which I admit I was pleased about as this is something that I have always tried to get across to friends and family who don't share the same love for animals that I do. I just felt like I was reading more an extract from a diary rather than being told a story which I wasn't really a big fan of.
I don't know what else to say except that I'm sure this book will appeal to a specific audience that love to read these types of stories, but unfortunately it just wasn't for me. I prefer to read happier books these days that allow me to escape from reality and feel good while I'm reading rather than read those that make me ponder on how bad things could really get in life. This probably sounds like I'm a bit blinded to some but it works for me.