Thanks, Garth Stein

September 21, 2008

Minutes ago I finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which when I started, I expected to be another “Marley and Me.” In that it is about a dog’s love for its people and its peoples’ love of the dog, the two books are alike. But there is a sad undertone throughout “Racing in the Rain,” that I never felt in “Marley.”

Here’s why: from the beginning we know that Enzo (the pooch!) is recalling his life story on the eve of his death. That fact struck like an arrow in my heart because only a month ago I had to put my dog to sleep. A first for me even though I’ve been around for a few decades.

I’ve had other dogs die, but never before did I have to decide. This time I had to look my poor, sick, trusting Nikki in the eyes and tell her good-bye. Others have walked that walk and know how brutally hard it is. It was the right decision because she was a senior dog with a serious illness, but no less gut-wrenching.

Enzo’s tale helped me believe that if Nikki could have talked, she would have told me it was okay. She would have said that she was ready to stop hurting and to not be sick. She might have told me she loved me, our family, and would miss us, but she needed to rest peacefully.

For any dog lovers, the book is worth reading. For those who just like to read, I recommend it, too. It’s a life story, with the ups and downs and peaks and valleys of real life, yet it ends with hope. Something I always appreciate in my pleasure reading.

Especially for me, I am thankful for a newfound peace of mind from the book. My sense of guilt in making the decision to end Nikki’s struggle eased and I believe like Enzo, she will return to life in human form and I’ll bump into her someday.


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