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A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie

A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie

4.3 233
by Dean Koontz

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In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts



In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, and an uncanny knack for living in the moment. Whether chasing a tennis ball or protecting those she loved, Trixie gave all she had to everything she did, inspiring Dean and Gerda to trust their instincts and recapture a sense of wonder that will remain with them always. Trixie lived fewer than twelve years; in this wide world, she was a little thing. But in every way that mattered, she lived a big life.

CBS Sunday Morning featured A Big Little Life in a rare interview with Dean Koontz that focuses on his philanthropic efforts with and affection for dogs. View it here: http://youtu.be/40bWUc6k_J8

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A] love letter to his golden retriever.”—People

“Read this book to be entertained, uplifted and deeply moved.”—The Bark
“A humorous, poignant portrait of [a] remarkable dog.”—Kirkus Reviews
“One dog book that everyone . . . will deeply enjoy.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A delightful read. . . an unusually effective brief for the joy that dogs bring us.”—The American Spectator
“A tender, insightful, loving homage . . . an inspirational book of love, hope and humor.”—Bookreporter.com
Author Dean Koontz always loved dogs (astute readers know that he populates his thrillers with them), but he didn't fully realize the genius of the species until Trixie came into his life. In ways, this 68-pound golden retriever seemed to manifest Buddha-like virtues: a refreshing lack of vanity and an uncanny knack for living in the here-and-now. Though nominally retired as a Canine Companion service dog, good-natured Trixie continued to perform spontaneous good deeds. For Koontz, her gentle nuzzles were transformative, gradually modulating his workaholic ways down to a healthy balance. The soulful book about a short-lived canine companion might surprise those who have only secondhand acquaintance with Koontz's fiction, but nobody with a heart will leave it disappointed.
Kirkus Reviews
In his nonfiction debut, mega-bestselling novelist Koontz (In Odd We Trust, 2008, etc.) presents a humorous, poignant portrait of his remarkable dog. The author and his wife adopted three-year-old Trixie in 1998. Elbow surgery forced the golden retriever into early retirement from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), an organization that raises and trains assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities. Trixie fit right into the Koontzes' disciplined writing life and spotless California home. She was so well-trained that she relieved herself on command and rested calmly under restaurant tables, ignoring tasty scraps thrown to her by other diners. But impeccable behavior and uncanny intelligence-including attempts at speech-never diluted her exuberance or innocence. These qualities restored Koontz's sense of wonder and encouraged him to take more risks in his fiction writing. Here, the media-shy author opens up about childhood poverty, love for his wife and his spiritual beliefs. He also provides plenty of laughs, borne more of his self-effacing humor and mastery of language than doggie antics-though Trixie's "own" essay is certainly a highlight. Any post-Marley dog memoir cannot escape comparison to John Grogan's blockbuster. Determined to convey that the exquisite magic and mystery of Trixie put her on a different plane, Koontz preempts the debate early on. "This is not going to be a memoir about a pillow-destroying, cat-chasing, furniture-chewing, miscreant kind of canine," he writes, "she was something more than a dog . . . this spirit was a wonder and a revelation." Trixie defied conventional wisdom from animal behaviorists who believe that dogs cannot express emotions,judge character or remember things as humans can. Friends, family and strangers corroborated that Trixie was "special" in an otherworldly sense. Unprompted, an Indian neighbor informed Koontz, "Your dog is a person who has almost arrived at complete enlightenment and will in the next life be perfect and blameless, a very great person."Heady stuff for a pup, but Koontz's talent lies in making the preposterous believable. Was Trixie some sort of angel? Regardless, her enchanting story will have fans panting for more.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)


Meet the Author

Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition when he was a senior in college, and he’s been writing ever since. He has sold more than 400,000,000 copies of his books, in 38 languages. Dean lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, and their new dog, Anna.

Brief Biography

Newport Beach, California
Date of Birth:
July 9, 1945
Place of Birth:
Everett, Pennsylvania
B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966

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A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog named Trixie 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 233 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Dean Koontz for many, many years, I became aware of a difference in his books. There was a spirituality there that had not existed before. After reading A Big Little Life (in one sitting), I think that the change in his writing and Trixie were somehow related. This incredibly heartwarming account is well worth the read.
mandersj More than 1 year ago
When I first bought "A Big Little Life" I told myself this would be my own little treasure, not to be reviewed, just to be enjoyed. Now, months after reading it some of the items have moved me so much that I still think about them and decided they need to be shared. Bestselling author Dean Koontz and his wife Gerda had a very happy life that revolved around the business of Dean's books. They were content with what they had, yet they longed for something more. Dean and Gerda actively supported Canine Companions for Independence, and loved visiting the service dogs that were trained through that organization. They were repeatedly asked to adopt dogs that had been retired from service, but kept declining due to their time-consuming commitments with Dean's writing career. Finally, they decided the time was right, and they were placed with Trixie, a three-year-old golden retriever who taught them to cut back on their workload and enjoy life fully. One of the tales that stands out is how Trixie would come to Dean's writing desk each day at 5:00 and stand between him and his computer. He was used to working until 7:00 or later, so to quit work at 5:00 was unheard of. Somehow Trixie knew that 5:00 should be quitting time, and she was going to make Dean get away from work and have some fun no matter if he got mad about it or not. She did this for weeks before Dean caught on to her and went ahead and took her bait to play with her instead of working for a few more hours. Another story I loved was one day Gerda was taking Trixie on their daily walks through the nearby tennis courts, Trixie looked for tennis balls to carry in her mouth to no avail. Disappointed as she was, Gerda and Trixie started descending the steps past the tennis courts when Trixie stopped short and refused to go any further. After much coaxing, Gerda could not get her to move and kept asking Trixie what was wrong. Trixie proceeded to pump her neck and open her mouth and actually speak what sounded like the word "ball." Gerda was so surprised, that she dropped the leash, and Trixie ran up a few steps, nosed under a bush and came out with a tennis ball in her mouth. When Gerda got home she told Dean the story, and he disbelieved. Months later, with this story long gone from Dean's memory, he was walking Trixie past the tennis courts and a very similar thing happened. Trixie the dog could speak, and what she could say was "ball." Trixie also was an author. Of course, Dean co-wrote Trixie's books, and they came with a zest and humor that was present in Trixie's daily life. I own a couple of Trixie's books (as well as many of Dean's); they are full of color pictures of Trixie and showcase her happiest moments and some of the random things that go through her head, as translated by Dean. Trixie tragically passed away in 2007, and this is Dean's homage to the dog who changed his life. It's not a crazy story about a crazy dog; it's just a plain and simple story about how a companion animal can teach so much to a human if the human is open to learning.
DLW3414ANA More than 1 year ago
A great book for dog lovers. What a great summer read. Thank you, Dean Koontz.
cinyum More than 1 year ago
I wish all dog parents treated their dogs with the deep love, affection and care that Koontz and his wife gave her!
BanjoMamaEA More than 1 year ago
Anyone who has ever lost a beloved dog knows exactly what Dean is talking about. I could see our own Gustav in how beloved Trixie was and how much she meant to Dean and his wife. He brings out exactly how dogs seem to be able to communicate wisdom to their owners. He goes through the triumphs, the humorous situations, the courage in the face of dangerous situations and in the illness brought on by the advancing age of the Trixie. You will laugh. You will cry. You will see your own situation in this wonderful book. It was my first time reading a Koontz and I don't think it will be my last.
Loose-Cannon More than 1 year ago
This memoir of a very special dog is a wonderful read. Intuitive, intelligent, and inspired, Trixie was a wonder to her parents, Dean and Gerda Koontz, as well as her readers, and proves that dogs are more than just pets; some more than others obviously.
Chris33CK More than 1 year ago
As a dog owner/lover and Dean Koontz fan I anticipated this book with keen interest. And Dean delivers! It is a wonderful memoir of their life with Trixie - her impacts on him and his wife - and the life Trixie enjoyed. But equally as enjoyable, and thought provoking, is Dean Koontz's life philosophy and a well integrated synopsis of his own life. I appreciate him sharing this personal side. My new knowledge brings even a greater depth to his novels. And I am ready for the next one...
JanW More than 1 year ago
This book was a very enjoyable read!  I also was blessed to be able to share my life with two very special dogs (liter mates and also Golden Retrievers).  This book is very charming and sentimental.  I'm not sure if I shared his feelings because he's such a good writer or if it was because I shared his same experience with my own beloved dogs.   But, I very much enjoyed this book, even though I cried through much of it.  It showed me that, although I still mourn their loss after two years, I was so lucky to have been blessed with them in the first place.
Jean Parker More than 1 year ago
I read the sample. I realy like it and want to buy it. It has life messages in it
Bellnorth More than 1 year ago
I wish I had the skill to put into words stories about my sweet pup. This is a wonderful read. I am sure any pet owner (dog or not) will enjoy this sweet remembrance of a loving pet and remarkable dog.
writerrosemarie More than 1 year ago
I have always been a fan of the author Trixie Koontz, Dog. The way she looks at life and teaches others how to live a good life is a great gift. Thank you, Mr. Koontz, for letting us share in Trixie's gifts. "A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog" is an emotional book - and the emotion is LOVE. Mr. Koontz's talent, humor, and unique way of looking at life has always intrigued me. I think he is a wonderful writer and he brings all he has to this book. If you are a Trixie lover, or dog lover, or just an animal lover in general, even if you don't like animals that much, treat yourself to this book. You won't be sorry. (Warning: If you are not a dog or animal lover, this book could change your life.)
Lauriezp More than 1 year ago
I am very glad that I bought this book. We Have a golden retriever also, and I could relate to the experiences of the auther and his wife with their dog, Trixie. It is philosophical and inspiring, as well as touching to the end.
Groverox More than 1 year ago
A must for any dog lover. I loved every page! Koontz showcases his (lesser-seen) sense of humor marvelously. I have shared this book with many friends and co-workers, and every one of them has thanked me for doing so. A sweet, loving tribute to a wonderful companion, you will laugh and cry and be touched by the relationship between Koontz and Trixie. Wonderful!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For lovers of dogs and especially Golden Retrievers. Trixie was a very special dog.
jam526 More than 1 year ago
It took a bit to get into this as I was in deep sorrow over the loss of my best friend of 16 years but this book comforted me in a way no one else could. A great read for someone who has never had a pet and is thinking on getting one to show how the relationship progresses and how very blessed you will be. We forget that animals don't live as long as we do so we must appreciate their love every minute of every day and this books exemplafies that. Wonderful read, not a tear jerker like you would think. Bravo Mr Koontz!God Speed good dog.
JFJ More than 1 year ago
Being a long-time dog lover and owner (we are on our 11th dog in our married life so far), I cannot even imagine a person NOT wanting a dog around. We are partial to yellow labs, so loving and gentle. Plus great for hunting. They are such emotional lifters with unbounded love in every single bone. Good therapy. It's surprising how it took so long for the Koontz family to find that out! But bless them for taking such good care of a puppy that needed care. And establishing a foundation to fund care is TERRIFIC. This is a warm story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this story enchanting and entertaining. I loved the humor with which Dean Koontz wrote. This is a book I will buy by the dozen to give to both dog-lovers, and those who have not experienced the joy of knowing and loving a dog.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book of the love of a great dog by a great writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MickieP More than 1 year ago
If I had a dog like that I would be writing a book about her too. Although the first couple of chapters are a bit tedious, the rest of the book is an amazing story. I swore I would never read another dog story because you know how it will always end, but fortunately this story celebrates Trixie's life and only briefly dwells on the inevitable painful parting. Definitely a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such a funny and heartwarming book! Any dog lover would love it, but beware the heart break at the end of the book. I was bawling my eyes out.  
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who owns or has ever had a dog can relate to his book great read