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Christopher SchoppaNo pet enthusiast can browse these stories and not be moved.
—The Washington Post
Preface Robert Goldman xi
Introduction Barbara Abercrombie xiii
1 Isha Carolyn See 1
2 A Story about The General Michael Chitwood 7
3 Hope Robin Romm 13
4 Mr. T.'s Heart Jane Smiley 27
5 Fluff Joe Morgenstern 37
6 Seamus and Spud Judith Lewis Mernit 45
7 Calico Melissa Cistaro 57
8 Red the Pig May-Lee Chai 67
9 This Dog's Life Anne Lamott 79
10 True Love Samantha Dunn 87
11 In Molly's Eyes Billy Mernit 99
12 Winesburg Barbara Abercrombie 109
13 Party Girl Monica Holloway 117
14 A Religion Named Yoyo Linzi Glass 131
15 My Sal Jacqueline Winspear 139
16 Kiki Cecilia Manguerra Brainard 149
17 Wonder Dog Victoria Zackheim 157
18 My Virtual Cat Jenny Rough 165
19 First Dog, Best Dog Sonia Levitin 175
20 Taking Stock Thomas McGuane l85
21 Dog Years Mark Doty 189
About the Editor 213
Posted October 24, 2011
Posted February 1, 2011
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The loss of a beloved animal is often best commiserated among fellow pet owners. Those who do not have a four-legged family member in their lives often cannot comprehend the inconsolable void that accompanies the death of a pet. When the earthly bond of unconditional love is shattered, only the memory of it remains. That is the empathetic feeling that is captured in the short story collection, Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost edited by Barbara Abercrombie. It is a heartfelt look at bereavement and grief throughout the animal spectrum. There is no defined limitation as to what constitutes a pet, and each of the contributors reflects on the specific losses they have endured. For many, it is the first time they have turned to writing in order to express the emotions that accompanied their final good-byes.
The standout piece of the anthology is "True Love" by Samantha Dunn concerning her horse, Gabe. In a fitting description, she writes, "I see him again each time I go to a movie theater and the logo for TriStar Pictures appears on the screen - the strong white chest, the thundering legs." What makes this relationship even more remarkable is that at the time, Samantha was living in a trailer park - not the typical residence of a horse owner. Throughout her teenage years, Samantha enjoyed riding and caring for Gabe. It is not until she returned home during a college break that she learned that her grandmother had sold the elderly equine to a children's summer camp. Samantha never found out if this story was true, or just something her grandmother told her in order to comfort her about Gabe's final resting place. Choosing not to uncover the truth, this unresolved ending still effects Samantha to this day.
In "Party Girl," Monica Holloway explores the animal-autism connection between her son, Wills and their shepherd-collie mix, Hallie. Monica shares, "there was a deep love between them, but it was as if Hallie were a protective aunt, standoffish but fiercely protective." When Wills was 12-years-old, he returned the favor. After Hallie fell into the pool and her arthritic body sank like a stone, it was Wills who jumped in and saved her. Pretty impressive for an autistic boy who didn't like getting his clothes wet. As the selection comes to an end, Hallie is rapidly approaching her final days. Monica ends with a poignant thought, "Hallie ... has been the one constant through the years, completely devoted but asking nothing in return." It is a fitting summation of love between pets and owners everywhere.
The subject matter of the book may be one that many readers will be afraid to approach. The loss of one's pet is hard enough without having to endure the blow-by-blow accounts of other owners for over 200 pages. The repeated scenes of physical deterioration and subsequent euthanization do not make for happy reading. The ending of each story is known before diving in. While it can lead to an experience of continual heartbreak, the collection's intention is to help a pet owner through the grieving process by being able to gain insight from the coping strategies of others. Whether this is a helpful strategy or not is up to the needs of the individual reader.
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Posted May 23, 2011
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