“Lessons from Tara: Life Advice from the World’s Most Brilliant Dog” by David Rosenfelt is so enjoyable it should be illegal. Anyone who has ever loved a dog will be touched by the stories of the many, many dogs that Rosenfelt and his wife, Debbie, have saved. But what makes Rosenfelt’s writing brilliant is his ability to infuse humor into every page he writes.
This reviewer has never read a book wherein every page — every page, mind you — has caused her to burst out laughing, stop, and insist that her husband stop whatever he is doing so that she could read the funny parts to him. He certainly doesn’t feel that he needs to read the book now. He’s listened to most of it.
Rosenfelt writes about the “war going on in this country, undeclared and in many quarters unnoticed. Thousands of people have mobilized to fight the abandonment and mistreatment of animals.” He goes on to say that “there is the other side in the battle. That side is manned by the idiots who treat their dogs like they are disposable, worthless possessions, and who dump them without giving it a second thought.” He mentions a man and his three kids abandoning their one-year-old lab at a shelter. The man signed the release form acknowledging that the dog could be killed after one hour. He had adopted the dog as an eight-week-old puppy. Now that it was grown, and not a cute little puppy, they were going to replace it with another puppy. The stupidity and cruelty of these type of people is everywhere, seen in every county shelter and on every deserted road where unwanted dogs are thrown out of the car.
While those of us who rescue know many sad animal stories (because we’ve experienced them), Rosenfelt’s stories consistently amaze, entertain, and disgust — all at the same time. There is another incident recounted, for example, on page 118, in which a golden retriever is abandoned in front of a high-kill shelter in California one morning. “The attached note described her as fifteen, and the owners said that they were going on vacation and didn’t want to pay to board her, so the shelter should put her down.”
That dog lived what must have been three more wonderfully happy years in the Rosenfelt zoo, er, house. Rosenfelt pulls no punches. He continues, “Tessie lived to eighteen with us, and hopefully it was long enough to make her forget the assholes she had lived with all those years. I hope wherever they went on their vacation, they contracted dysentery, and there was no indoor plumbing.”
Rosenfelt’s ubiquitous self-deprecating humor also permeates the anecdotes and is guaranteed to leave the reader, just as it did this reviewer, laughing, loudly and frequently. He even makes fun of mistakes he’s made in his writing. I’ll give away just one: “…they found the victim ‘lying facedown on his back.’” Obviously those mistakes are editing errors, not to be pinned on Rosenfelt — hero to many.
Especially his dogs.
Please note: This review is based on an final paperback book provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for review purposes.
Another Rosenfelt book, “Outfoxed,” is reviewed here.