Bioethicist Pierce (coauthor of Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals) is well-positioned, both professionally and personally, to examine the way the lives of American pets end. While conceding the limits to our understanding of what animals actually experience as the end nears, Pierce makes a compelling case that the negative phrase, “to die like an animal,” needs to be turned around, to mean, instead, “a peaceful, respectful, and meaningful death.” The prism through which Pierce makes her observations is her own family’s experience with the end stages of the life of their beloved dog, Ody. Pierce alternates between entries from her journal and broader discussions of issues familiar to those caring for elderly or ill humans, such as hospice and euthanasia; shockingly, the latter is the main cause of death for cats and dogs in the U.S. The author is unflinchingly self-critical, continuing, even after having Ody put to sleep, to struggle with whether fighting harder for him toward the end would have been more for her than for him. This sensitive exploration of a topic that even many pet lovers have likely not thought enough about is likely to generate discussions about what kind of death is owed to beloved animal companions. (Oct.)
Using her experience caring for her elderly Vizsla as a springboard, Pierce, who is a bioethicist, explores the evolution of North American attitudes toward pets and their demise, while delving as deeply as she can into her own feelings as her dog Ody goes into decline.”
"Pierce has made an important contribution to the small body of literature dealing with aging and death in companion animals. . . . While this will appeal to a fairly narrow audience, it should be required reading for every pet owner. Readers will identify with Pierce's feelings of ambivalence, and see something of their own pets as they read about Ody's antics and challenges. Recommended."
"Jessica Pierce takes a brave and honest look at the hardest decision all of us who share our lives with dogs must facewhether and when to put to sleep, put down, euthanize, terminate, kill our boon companions. She does not make it easierit never gets easierbut she does succeed in cutting through the euphemistic obfuscation that so often obscures every aspect of the subject."
"Decisions about how to treat an animal toward the end of her or his life are among the most difficult we have to make and it's our responsibility to do the best we can. Our companions trust that we will have their best interests in mind. In The Last Walk, Jessica Pierce considers all of the hard questions about sick and old animals. She seamlessly weaves in personal stories with scientific research to provide readers with an incredibly valuable guidea must readabout when and how to end an animal's life in the most humane way possible. I learned a lot from reading this book, and I know others will as well."
"The Last Walk is an engaging tribute to the complexity of human relations to companion animals and the range of issues and concerns that arise for us as those companions' lives come to their ends. The nature of building relationships and forming families with companion animals who, in most cases, we know we will outlive, shapes those relationships in profound ways. Given the subject matter, it seems odd to say I 'enjoyed' this bookI was so moved by it at times that I weptlet me say instead that I was utterly gripped by this book and think it is a must read for everyone who shares their lives with animals."
"In The Last Walk bioethicist Jessica Pierce covers virtually every aspect of dealing with the aging and death of a companion animal—from doggie diapers to the morally complex and psychologically wrenching decision to euthanize a pet. This is an intelligent and deeply moving book that everyone who loves—or will love—an aging animal should read."
"The Last Walk rings with compassion for aging animals and charts a hopeful new course for those of us who care for them. With her beautiful 'Ody's journal' passages, Jessica Pierce made me feel close to her beloved and high-maintenance old dog. It was through Ody's challenges, and Pierce's on his behalf, that I came to grapple in important new ways with issues of pet aging and death. This book is revolutionary, and I loved it with all my heart."
"The best nature book this year (and also the best dog book) is immeasurably also the saddest. . . . This great little book is not a happy reading experiencebut for dog people, it'll be a massively cathartic one."
The Last Walk is a book that all loving pet owners should read. Nothing will make the prospect of ending a good friend’s life any easier, but at least it can help those awful decisions feel less of a stab in the dark.”