Dog House: A Love Story
by Carol Prisant

Gotham Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-592-40566-4.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 07/28/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Animal Companions

Author Carol Prisant provides the reader with a well-thought out, introspective memoir that does a great job of grabbing our attention, and our hearts. Remarkably straightforward about her own quirky traits, she shows us the love, and the pain, in a long-term marriage and in raising dogs.

I have loved and owned dogs all my life (unlike Prisant, who didn't have dogs as a child) and so much of what she writes resonates with me. I have also been married for a long time, so Prisant's subtitle, "One Love, Ten Dogs, and a Forty-Two-Year Marriage" hits me right where I live.

Some of her other pet "oops" events are also discussed in the beginning: hug-your-sides laughter about the Woolworth's bird; the husband-obsessed monkey (back in the day when you could buy monkeys at the pet store!); and the discouragingly boring turtle. However, the dogs wag the tale! Several of Prisant's dogs were Jack Russells, a difficult breed in a little package that encompasses an innate charm that beguiles as it frustrates. Learning through trial-and-error, Prisant gets dogs from animal shelters, orders them from abroad or from other states, and over all, takes her learning curve to entirely new heights (or depths!)

Mixed with the doggy slobber and puddles are stories of love and tears with her husband, Millard, and her only son Barden, an art retrieval data specialist. We learn about her obsession with houses and antiques, including what she calls her "novelty-seeking gene." As she searches for that which is unusual and new in her life, her patient husband loves and accepts her wayward genetic waltz.

As time passed, so did the dogs. In the author's sixties, a trio of mismatched dogs took over her life; Juno the Lurcher, Diva the Norfolk, and Ajax the Greyhound. Each dog brought to Prisant's life a new delight and a new understanding about the minds and behaviors of dogs. In 2000, Millard, her husband, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In addition to turning to her son for comfort, she relied on her fur-babies to give her solace.

The story winds around through Prisant's youth, her early-married years and her family (human, as well as canine.) Her candidness about herself and her relationships is sometimes uncomfortable, for throughout the reading, you feel her happiness, as well as her pain. Her insight and clarity are a lesson to the reader to appreciate oneself and the people (and dogs!) in your life. This is the kind of book you will want to keep on your shelf to re-read, and to share with friends who share your love of dogs.

Carol Prisant is the author of Good, Better, Best, the New York Times bestseller Antiques Roadshow Primer, and Antiques Roadshow Collectibles. She is also the New York editor of the Conde Nast publication, The World of Interiors, and has written frequently for The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Martha Stewart Living, among many others. She lives in Manhattan...with Ajax. You can find out more about Carol on her website.

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