The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout

The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout

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by Jill Abramson
     
 

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An instructive and marvelously entertaining chronicle of a puppy's first year, by the executive editor of The New York Times

One sparkling summer day, Jill Abramson brought home a nine-week-old golden retriever named Scout. Over the following year, as she and her husband raised their adorable new puppy, Abramson wrote a hugely popular column for The

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Overview

An instructive and marvelously entertaining chronicle of a puppy's first year, by the executive editor of The New York Times

One sparkling summer day, Jill Abramson brought home a nine-week-old golden retriever named Scout. Over the following year, as she and her husband raised their adorable new puppy, Abramson wrote a hugely popular column for The New York Times's website about the joys and challenges of training this rambunctious addition to their family. Dog-lovers from across the country inundated her with e-mails and letters, and the photos they sent in of their own dogs became the most visited photo album on the Times's site in 2009.

Now Abramson has gone far beyond the material in her column and written a detailed and deeply personal account of Scout's first year. Part memoir, part manual, part investigative report, The Puppy Diaries continues Abramson's intrepid reporting on all things canine. Along the way, she weighs in on such issues as breeders or shelters, adoption or rescue, raw diet or vegan, pack-leader gurus like Cesar Millan or positive-reinforcement advocates like Karen Pryor.

What should you expect when a new puppy enters your life? With utterly winning stories and a wealth of practical information, The Puppy Diaries provides an essential road map for navigating the first year of your dog's life.

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Editorial Reviews

John Grogan
…a worthy addition to the crowded so-called dogoir genre, primarily for the candid glimpse it offers into the softer, personal—yes, even cuddly—side of one of the world's most influential opinion shapers…Ms. Abramson writes with intelligence and grace and never descends into the saccharine, steering clear of sappy land mines even as she celebrates the simple joys a dog can bring. Some readers will be looking for evidence to brand her elitist, but Ms. Abramson's voice is bighearted and surprisingly down to earth as she and her husband forge a stronger bond with Scout at their side. Dog lovers will enjoy this account of one couple's efforts to raise a well-behaved pet.
—The New York Times
Alexandra Styron
[Abramson] plunges into the subject of her dog's first year and comes up with a golden retriever of a memoir. Unaffected, unironic and lovingly goofy, The Puppy Diaries is not for the reader who sees life with a dog as a Booth cartoon. But it should hit the wide, heart-shaped mark cultivated by dog fanciers everywhere unafraid to be heard singing lullabies to the furriest members of the family.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, is a tough-minded investigative journalist with a soft spot for cuddly pups. In this book, based on her popular Times blog, she chronicles her first year with her new puppy, Scout, and shares what she learns about doggie nutrition, training, socialization, and even pet health insurance. When her husband, Henry, falls in love with a friend’s British standard retriever and persuades her to get a puppy from the friend’s breeder, Abramson, still grieving the loss of her beloved Westie, Buddy, is reluctant. But by the time they’ve gotten home with Scout, Abramson has already begun to dote on her. An empty nester with two grown children, she delights in bonding with other dog owners at the dog park, fretting over Scout’s graduation from puppy kindergarten, and pampering her with trips to doggy day care or to a pool for pooches in their Tribeca neighborhood. As Scout romps toward canine “adolescence,” chomping through shoes, spectacles, and table legs with pin-sharp teeth and dragging her owners along by the leash, Abramson consults with dog authorities like Cesar Millan of The Dog Whisperer, clicker-training and positive-reinforcement proponent Diane Abbott, and animal behaviorist Temple Grandin. Though not all might have such envious resources, puppy owners will enjoy her account of the trials and joys of raising a puppy and will benefit from her balanced look into the contentious realm of dog-training methods. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Drawing on her popular New York Times blog of the same name, recently named executive editor Abramson chronicles her retriever puppy's first year, acting both as owner and diarist. While gentle Scout is pure golden, the book's a mix—the jacket calls it "part memoir, part manual, part investigative report." Abramson worries a great deal about raising Scout right, and after much tutoring and consultation and practice, she apparently succeeds. Readers with young dogs should find Abramson's discussion of "adolescence" and its setbacks particularly reassuring. Her description of New York's dog parks and its exclusive canine services will interest general readers as well as dog lovers. If there's any truth, however, to Marley & Me author John Grogan's observation that "bad dogs make good copy," then a better subject might have been Scout's predecessor—a terrier named Buddy who bit a lady and disliked kids. VERDICT Scout's story was better suited to a blog than a book—reader responses gave the site a vitality the text sorely lacks. Still, retriever owners wanting to know all they can about the breed may find it useful. [See Prepub Alert, 3/7/11.]—R. Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250012234
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
10/16/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
368,730
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Puppy Diaries

Raising a Dog Name Scout


By Jill Abramson

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2011 Jill Abramson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9692-1


CHAPTER 1

The truth about getting a new dog is that it makes you miss the old one.

This reality hit me hard one spring day in 2009 when we arrived at Thistledown Golden Retrievers, near Boston, where my husband, Henry, and I had come to meet Donna Cutler, a breeder of English golden retrievers. Because it was named Thistledown, and because I knew that the golden retriever breed was started by someone actually named Lord Tweedmouth, I was expecting the place to look like a country manor.

Instead, we parked in front of a plain suburban ranch, and the only hint of the litter of the seven-week-old puppies we had been invited to inspect — though we knew it was really us who had to pass muster with the breeder — was a sign on the front door that showed two golden retrievers and said WIPE YOUR PAWS. Why did I suddenly feel like wiping my eyes?

My heart was still hurting over the loss of Buddy, our stone-deaf, feisty-to-the-end West Highland white terrier, who had died in March 2007 at age fourteen. Our two children, Cornelia and Will, who grew up with him but flew the nest years before his demise, often mused that Buddy was my one perfect relationship in life.

Buddy, like me, was a self-sufficient type, and despite his small size he was no lap dog. Like many Westies, he was woefully stubborn and never once came when called. He could be unpredictable and grouchy around small children and once bit my goddaughter's upper lip. He wasn't great with old people, either; years later, he bit the leg of an elderly woman who, for some inexplicable reason, was standing barefoot and dressed in her nightgown in our elevator when the doors opened on our floor. (Happily, that incident triggered an unlikely friendship between Eve, Buddy's victim, and me.) Nonetheless, I was madly in love and forgave Buddy all his sins. I learned a lot from him, too; among other things, he taught me that even in stressful situations dogs have a unique way of steering you in unlikely and interesting directions.

I confess that I spoiled Buddy beyond all reason. Houseguests often awoke to the aroma of grilled chicken with a dusting of rosemary, which I liked to give him for breakfast. Henry would sometimes note, without rancor, that when I took business trips and called home, my first question was always "How's Buddy?"

Long after Cornelia and Will began to wriggle out of my embraces and find my made-up games annoying, Buddy was always happy to have me scratch his pink belly and play tug-of-war. While my children filled their lives with school, scouting, and sports — and, later, college, work, and love — Buddy remained my steadfast companion.

When Buddy was a puppy, we lived in Virginia, and together he and I would amble around our neighborhood for miles, discovering new side streets with interesting houses. Someone always stopped to admire him, which is how I met a lot of my neighbors. During our walks I was also able to let go of some of the pressure of my job as an investigative reporter, back then for the Wall Street Journal. Sometimes, with my mind wandering free as I pulled the leash this way and that, I would come up with a great story idea or reporting angle on the Washington scandals that were my frequent reporting targets. Buddy, steadfast and true, was my loyal coconspirator.

I once experienced a rare eureka moment while on a walk with Buddy. I had recently left the Journal and gone to work in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, where I was on the team of reporters covering the Monica Lewinsky scandal. One day in late 1998, as Buddy and I strolled up Second Street South in Arlington, I realized that one of the people I had encountered in a document the previous night was familiar to me; he was a prominent conservative lawyer in New York. Why his name surfaced in my brain during a walk with Buddy the next morning is anyone's guess, but when Buddy and I got home, I took out the documents I had been reviewing and found that this lawyer was mentioned repeatedly. That discovery led to a front-page story about how a cabal of conservative lawyers had secretly worked on the sexual harassment case that triggered impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. Buddy, my silent partner, deserved to share the byline on that story.

Although independent and often fierce, Buddy was always happy to see me. When my children were in their late teens, I couldn't help but notice that he, unlike Cornelia and Will, was never sullen and didn't ask to borrow the car. And when I became the Times's Washington bureau chief, I noted that unlike the reporters who worked for me, Buddy was unfailingly delighted whenever I came up with what I thought was an inspired idea.

Buddy, you see, was my first dog, and I had fallen hard. Perhaps this new relationship was so intense partly because it wasn't based on words, unlike the rest of my personal and professional life. I spent so much of my day talking, reading, and writing that it was both a relief and a joy to spend time with Buddy. Except for a few simple commands, our conversation consisted entirely of my silly cooings and his appreciative grunts.

My older sister, Jane, has often observed that what she found most surprising about me was my late-in-life transformation into a dog lover. "You were a wonderful parent," she once told me, "but I've never seen you so affectionate or expressive with anyone the way you are with this dog." It was true. At work, where some of my colleagues and sources said they found my tough-girl investigative journalist persona intimidating, I was constantly pulling out the latest snapshots of Buddy and telling everyone my latest dog stories. Buddy was more than my coconspirator; he also seemed to certify me as a nicer person.


It wasn't just Buddy. I also adored Arrow, my sister's Jack Russell mix, who greeted me with ecstasy at her door. Arrow and I formed a special bond when I moved from Washington to New York in 2003 to become the Times's managing editor. Henry — who worked at a Washington, D.C., think tank and was in the process of becoming a consultant in New York — and Buddy weren't able to join me in Manhattan right away, so I lived for a couple of weeks with Jane; her husband, Jim; and Arrow. My love affair with Arrow was kindled during this period by the doggy bags I often brought home from the swanky restaurants where I had business dinners. Arrow, I recall, was especially fond of the grilled liver and bacon from an Italian place called Elio's.

I grew up in an apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Our parents allowed Jane and me to have turtles, fish, parakeets, and even a hamster, who outlived all our other pets. (During the famous blackout of 1965, I spent hours funneling water into a tropical fish tank to provide enough oxygen to save a pregnant fantail guppy and her impending brood.) But my parents drew the line at a dog. "The city is not a good place to raise a puppy," my mother told us. Despite our pleas, and even though we lived across from Central Park, she was unyielding.

Buddy arrived in 1992, when Henry and I were in our late thirties and our kids were nine and seven. That was also the year my father died, so Buddy was especially welcome. Cornelia and Will told the usual children's fib about getting a pet: they assured me that they would faithfully feed and walk this adorable addition to our family. It didn't work out that way, of course, so I took care of Buddy, training him, feeding him, and singing him to sleep in his tiny crate. I didn't mind, though; having new life in our house was a tonic for my grief over the loss of my dad.

Our setup in those days was perfect for an active puppy. We lived in an unfashionable corner of Arlington, Virginia, in a sturdy bungalow ordered out of the 1928 Sears catalog. The house came with a large fenced yard, and since Buddy had a little dog door he could come and go as he pleased. His purpose in life became patrolling our patch of lawn and protecting us from a host of imagined intruders. He also learned to open our mail slot; every day, he would wait inside for the mailman to arrive and then race onto our porch to retrieve the day's post. When it snowed, Buddy would often disappear under the white mounds in our yard and then tunnel and burrow to his heart's content. I especially loved to walk him when the snow was crunchy under my boots — amazingly, Buddy made me look forward to winter.

Buddy was already eleven when we arrived in Manhattan, and I worried that the move might kill him. We sublet a loft downtown, in Tribeca, but happily Buddy loved all the action in his new neighborhood, including the smells of so many other dogs and the fishy sidewalk outside a high-end Japanese restaurant called Nobu.

Once Henry and I settled into our own place in the same neighborhood, I hired a dog walker named Carlos, who took Buddy for a walk each afternoon. Once, when I forgot to bring some papers to work, I returned home to retrieve them and bumped into Carlos on the street walking Buddy in a pack with three other dogs. Buddy hadn't socialized much with other dogs during his yard-patrolling years, but now he seemed perfectly at ease with his cool city friends. When he saw me that day, he regarded me with a dismissive "What are you doing here?" look.

Before going to work, I often took Buddy to a dog run near the Hudson River where he bonded with a Scottie about his size. They looked like an advertisement for scotch when they romped together, and I enjoyed chatting with the other owners, who sat on benches and loved arguing with me about the theater, movie, and dining reviews in the Times. These mornings reminded me of the years when my kids were toddlers and I made a number of good friends while sitting on benches in the playground, talking about everything from biodegradable diapers to our marriages.

One day when I took Buddy for a checkup to the veterinarian in Tribeca, I encountered a woman with two Westies. The woman was wearing a pair of plaid socks emblazoned with Westies. "I have the same pair," I told her. She laughed and then looked at Buddy. "How old is your Westie?" she asked. When I told her Buddy was thirteen, she said, "Oh, we have an eighteen-year-old." Since the two dogs accompanying her were obviously much younger, I asked where the older one was. "He lives in a hospice nearby, and we visit him almost every day," she replied. I was stunned, never having imagined the existence of live-in, end-of-life care for dogs. This encounter marked the beginning of my fascination with the rarefied world of Manhattan dog owners, some of whom seek out dog hospices — not to mention dog massage therapists and dog shrinks who dispense antianxiety medications.

Henry and I were also startled to discover that everything having to do with dogs is so much more expensive in Manhattan than in Arlington. Although we live in an old, unrenovated building that used to be a spice warehouse and has no doorman, Tribeca is one of Manhattan's most expensive neighborhoods, full of Wall Street brokers who earn fat salaries and big bonuses. Signs reading LUXURY LOFTS FOR SALE are everywhere, with luxury being code for apartments that sell for two million dollars or more. A rubber ball I purchased at the local "pet boutique" cost six dollars. True, I splurged on a dog walker, but other dog owners in our neighborhood spent even more to send their pups to the Wagging Tail, a doggy day-care center on Greenwich Street.

By the time Buddy turned fourteen, he had lost his hearing, but he was still a hardy boy. In the winter of 2007, though, he developed a persistent cough. "I think it may be his heart," said Cornelia, who was then in her second year of medical school at Columbia. One weekend, he had what seemed like a small stroke: he was temporarily confused but snapped back to his old self pretty quickly. Then, in late February, while Cornelia and I were walking him one evening, he collapsed on the sidewalk. I carried him as we raced to the vet, who told us to take him to an animal hospital on lower Fifth Avenue. After he was given some oxygen, he seemed to stabilize. We were advised to leave him overnight, and I became tearful when we were ushered in to say good night and I saw him lying in a little cage, looking so vulnerable.

At 3 a.m. the telephone rang. It was the vet: Buddy was in full congestive heart failure. "He's having a terrible time breathing and he seems to be in pain," the on-duty vet reported. "I think we should put him down." Cornelia grabbed the phone and said we would be there in just a few minutes.

Henry, Cornelia, and I dashed out of our apartment, almost forgetting our coats in our hurry, and hailed a cab. When we arrived at the animal hospital, Buddy was lying on his side on a gurney, his back heaving up and down, a tiny oxygen mask on his face. We asked a barrage of questions and tried our best to convince ourselves that Buddy could recover, but it was clear there was no hope. As the medical technician prepared the lethal injection, Henry and I couldn't bear to watch, despite the counsel of friends who said that it was comforting to be present when a dog's life came to a peaceful end. Cornelia, in doctor mode, stayed with Buddy to the last.

When we returned to our loft, I felt the silence envelope me. It was heartbreaking; I had become so accustomed to hearing Buddy's metal tags jangle as he walked from room to room. To my ear, that was the music of loyal companionship.


After Buddy died, I was disconsolate. It wasn't simply that I missed the unconditional love or the ecstatic greeting each time I walked in the door, even if I'd been gone for only a few minutes to take the garbage to the basement. I missed everything about our routine, from feeding him grilled chicken to our late-night strolls along the windy riverside. And I assiduously avoided walks that took me anywhere near the dog run.

Most people pushed Henry and me to get another dog right away. But as the weeks passed, I grew accustomed to some aspects of a dogless life. With no dog to walk, I could not only catch up on whatever I hadn't read the previous day in the Times, but also scan the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and a number of Web sites and political blogs — all before work. I got an iPhone and quickly became a master of distracted living, a lifestyle not well suited to the focused playing and training a puppy needs. I filled my digital nest with Facebook friends, including rediscovered distant relatives and former high school classmates. Henry and I often spent weekends in the Connecticut town where he grew up — we had purchased an old farmhouse there in the late 1990s — and now we could go to the beach all day or stay out late without worrying about getting home to let the dog out.

Before long, I had almost convinced myself that my mother was right: the city is probably a bad place for a pup, even one that can live part-time in the country. My days as a dog owner seemed to be over.

Two months after Buddy died, life took another terrible turn. On the morning of May 7, 2007, while walking from my office to a nearby gym, I was struck by a large white truck at West Forty-fourth Street and Seventh Avenue in Times Square. Having grown up in the city, I considered myself an expert navigator of Manhattan's busy streets. Like most New Yorkers, I had had a couple of alarming experiences when a taxi almost clipped me as I stood on a corner or a bicycle messenger whizzed by so close that he touched my jacket. But I walked everywhere in the city and never gave its hazards a second thought.

Now, as I was crossing Seventh Avenue, a huge refrigerated truck making a right turn came barreling straight at me. The truck's right front wheel smashed my right foot and I was dragged to the ground. The truck's rear wheel rolled over my left thigh and snapped the femur. Luckily, other pedestrians stopped to help me. As I lay bleeding in the street, I was conscious but in terrible pain. While some passersby got a policeman to call an ambulance, others chased down and stopped the truck. When the ambulance arrived, paramedics told me I would be taken to Bellevue Hospital, the city's famous trauma center.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Puppy Diaries by Jill Abramson. Copyright © 2011 Jill Abramson. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

JILL ABRAMSON, a bestselling and award-winning author, is the executive editor of The New York Times. An unabashed dog-lover, she has long been fascinated by the complex relationship between dogs and their owners. She, her husband, and Scout live in New York City and Connecticut.

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Puppy Diaries 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
AAR More than 1 year ago
THE PUPPY DIARIES: RAISING A DOG NAMED SCOUT by Jill Abramson read by Beth MacDonald is an interesting audio book that chronicles a puppy's first year. It is an instructive story of Scout,the adorable new puppy of Jill Abranson and her husband. It is told with clarity and details. While, this story did not capture my attention,at times rather slow,if you enjoy puppy stories and their owners you would enjoy this one. It give the account of the trials and joys of raising young Scout with insight into doy training. Although,it gives a moving tale of losing one's beloved pet and bringing another into one's life,it did not seem to be my cup of tea. It would however,it would appeal to any dog lover,pet owners,memoirs lovers,and human interest readers as Jill Abramson,New York Times columnist's re-accounts her new puppy's first year. Received for review from the publisher.Details can be found at Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition and My Book Addiction Reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining book the kids might like it. All about raising a golden puppy. Woof!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, of course, touching, informative and full of love
autumnbluesreviews More than 1 year ago
In The Puppy Diaries you meet and get to tag along with the author Jill and her husband Henry as they raise their beautiful dog named Scout from puppy through early adulthood. Their story begins with their introduction of Buddy a feisty Westie, Jill's first dog. Scout however joined the Abramson's later in their life after they had raised their children and became empty-nesters. The story of Buddy left me teary eyed, as a dog owner I certainly could relate to having to watch a precious family pet suffer and it surfaced many memories for me. As every pet owner knows, eventually that dreaded day does come when for whatever reason or circumstances we must say our goodbyes to our beloved pet. After losing Buddy Jill struggles with wanting to adopt another dog. She has many worries. Will she love her next dog just as much as she loved Buddy? Jill feels it is to soon once friends and family begin to offer her ideas for acquiring another dog. However a couple years later Henry is soon in love with a certain breed, an almost snow white Golden Retriever and begins to lure Jill toward a breeder. Soon after Jill and Henry adopt Scout and an enchanting tale begins. I got to share in their joy as Jill and Henry get their pick from the litter, go shopping for those exciting first dog toys, treats and other goodies new dog owners just can't pass up. Just like bringing a new baby home a comparison Jill makes in her book many times. As all true pet owners know that pet excitement is short lived and the real responsibilities begin once that pup is brought home. First living in Connecticut then moving to an apartment in New York City Scout has to adjust to these changes. Jill takes us through all Scout's good and bad days, the chewing stages, socializing, walks, even puppy obedience class. All the joys, frustrations and mishaps that come with dog ownership are chronicled for the reader. All loving dog owners know we only want the best for our dogs but sometimes they can bring out the worst in us. Which leaves Jill wondering many times how she will make it through another day of Scout dragging her through the streets of New York City without getting hit by a taxi or other vehicle. The ironic part of this story is that Jill does get hit by a vehicle in New York City, actually a truck and ends up seriously injured but she was actually alone when this happens. Throughout the book you get to learn the quirks and habits of Jill and Henry and why Scout acts the way she does. There are many surprises along the way in this book and many I could relate to. I would recommend this audiobook to any dog lover or any one contemplating getting a dog. If you have or have had a dog you will easily relate to Jill's daily routines, rules and training approaches when it comes to her life with Scout. Including being dragged around when going for a walk with your dog, until you figure out what works to slow the race or finding out that their weight or size as predicted when you acquire the dog as a pup.
writingirl_15 More than 1 year ago
When I first read the description of The Puppy Diaries I thought, hey this could be an interesting read. Maybe somewhat like Marley & Me. I thought the stories would be heartwarming and the dog's personality would just jump out at you. But about thirty pages into the book I realized it wasn't going to be that way. To put it simply, it was boring. It came to a point where I had to force myself to continue to read it. Since the whole book is about the puppy, Scout, the reader has to feel connected or feel something for her to want to keep flipping the pages. What I felt was indifference. This book wasn't a compelling read. It felt like watching a television show when the actors were reading right from their scripts-no creativity or expression. Maybe it was because the author, Jill Abramson, was a former investigative journalist, and that type of journalism deals in facts and evidence, whereas a book like this needs lots of heart and fun. Unfortunately, the Puppy Diaries didn't deliver much of either. If you walk by this book in your bookstore or library, I would just pass it by
Maertel More than 1 year ago
The puppy story, though slow moving, is honest and revealing. The only disturbing part was when the author states that moving to the place they had selected in New York City might "kill" their first dog, Buddy. So why, with all the love she professed, did they take a chance instead of finding alternatives...? Lots of money needed to follow Scout's path!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book I think if you like dogs read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very intresting i lovvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeddd it It was very cool.*******************$$$$$$$$$$$$$+++++++++:) ; )@%%%%&&&&&&&&&**************************$$$$%%%%$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$############# if i could rate from 1-10 id choose 1,000,000
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Train your apprintences here!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit too much humanizing of an animal. I have loved all my many dogs madly, but they were dogs, not people. I love telling stories of all of them. But I think Jill carried the frief of the first too far and the guilt about training Scout too far also. It was really a good read, however.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi im 12 years old
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Hi
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Hi