One look at the cover of this book and most readers, enchanted by the sweet photo of a border collie mutt, will say "I'll take it." And that would be a mistake. Psychotherapist and substance abuse treatment specialist Johnston's concept is creative and solid: use a cute cuddly pet to compare and contrast codependent behaviors. Johnston declares, "codependence... I think both Daisy the dog and I have got it." Her daughter, when vexed, complains, "You are such a border collie." Certainly, many of Johnston's observations are useful: herding is a key characteristic of codependency, except that "people cannot be herded. Like dogs, Codependents tend to be big-hearted, but, Johnston says, this can go wrong when we believe we can "fix and control others." Unfortunately, Johnston's comparisons throughout most of the book are lifeless, relying on good for dog/bad for human examples that can seem contrived. On the positive side, Johnston uses "Lessons Learned" sections in each chapter to help clarify her message. It's a book perhaps only a codependent or border collie owner might love. And like most good dog stories, it has an uplifting if bittersweet conclusion.
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From the Publisher
"A practical, easy-reading guide to codependency."—David Nelson, MD
"An exceptionally clear and accessible handbook."—Lisa Tracy, author of Objects of Our Affection
This memoir is written in a very informal way with much duplication of stories to illustrate new and different points. The author is a dictionary aficionado who frequently defines fairly common terms throughout, apparently concerned that all readers are on the same page. Even at the end of the book she sees reiterates that she is talking about codependent behaviors, not the concept of codependency. The main point of the book seems to be demonstrating that the good qualities in both humans and border collies can be carried to an extreme, which can be damaging. It's a cute book but does not contain much new information; rather, it might be useful as reinforcement for someone troubled by codependent behaviors. The book was written over a period of ten years, which might explain some of the rather dated references included in the bibliography. VERDICT Optional purchase for dog lovers interested in self-help.—Margaret Cardwell, Memphis