A Three Dog Life– Book Review

A Three Dog Life, by Abigail Thomas, was recently recommended to me by someone I hadn’t even met yet, who was so sure I would like it after we’d spoken for five minutes that she mailed me a copy. She was right– I started reading as soon as I tore open the package the book came in, sat down in my rocking chair without even bothering to make tea first (anyone who knows me and my tea habit knows how rarely that happens), and could scarcely put the book down.

A Three Dog Life is a journey with Thomas after her husband’s terrible accident that resulted in serious brain injury. As with most journeys, much that is meaningful happens in ordinary, daily life– eating, knitting, walking, shopping– and Thomas’ real-life description drew me in and made me feel like I could easily sit down and join her for tea with her dogs sprawled around the room. Her three dogs, Harry, Rosie, and Carolina, provide a constant touchstone with the present and source of comfort and companionship, much as my three dogs do for me, and as dogs do for many people in all sorts of circumstances.

Like most people’s journeys, Thomas’ is not smooth and constant– events and thoughts ramble and sometimes jump from present to past and back again in a way that can be momentarily confusing– as life often is for any of us and as it certainly was for Thomas’ husband Rich, and so for her as well. I could relate to these back and forth thoughts, as my mind often leaps capriciously in time based on the slimmest of associations. I really enjoyed meeting another mind that meanders as mine does, weaving present events, memories, and philosophical musings into a tapestry of darks and lights and all shades in between.

Throughout the engaging ramblings of five years of life, this is very much a story of abiding love, with honest reflection on the challenges that went along with that love. Love that endured when all expectations screeched to a halt in one horrible moment that forever changed the whole face of their relationship. Love that persisted through grief and guilt feelings and uncertainty and loss. It is also an inspiring example of finding meaning and joy in life after personal disaster strikes terribly close to home. I am inclined to start right over and read this book again; it is too rich with real life to only read once.