So very recently I finished “Dog Crazy” by Meg Donohue. My mother bought it for me for christmas because it is about dogs, and I love dogs, and the main character’s name is Maggie (*cough cough* that’s me). It is about a therapist who has recently moved out to San Fransisco to start up a pet bereavement counseling program. Unfortunately she recently had to put down her own dog, who was her whole world. Now her life is in shambles and she is literally falling apart. However, a young woman comes to her for help and this allows Maggie to try and pick herself up and attempt to move on, but this also introduces a big mystery into the story as well, and that is all I will tell you about it. The whole book focuses on how important pets are in our lives and how hard it is to lose one. In the end it is a feel good story that is perfect for you if you love dogs.
Ok so now anyone who hasn’t read it should be gone because there is a HUGE mystery in this story and I do not want to spoil it! So this book starts off in one of Maggie’s therapy sessions and at the end something weird happens at the gate that we don’t really understand yet. Then it is very quickly revealed that Maggie is afraid to leaver her house and hasn’t left in almost 100 days. That really threw me and I wasn’t sure I was going to like that.
So let’s start by talking about Maggie. When I picked it up I loved we had the same name. I liked it less when I found out that she was afraid to leave her house. But as time went on I found we actually had a lot in common which made this a fun read for me. She talked about how she was a little on the quiet side, and more of a listener in conversations. She talked about what a strong relationship she had with her dogs and how they were family to her and that she didn’t love big loud parties and liked to stay in with a good book and a glass of wine (sounds perfect!). Basically her description of her pre-agrophobic self was like a self description. But poor Maggie is agoraphobic so she is afraid to leave the property. Like I said, at first I was unsure where the book was going to go from there and I wasn’t sure I’d like it if the whole book centered around Maggie getting over it, but then very shortly after we were introduced to Anya.
Anya is described as being a very dirty teenage girl and very angsty. And of course she is sent to Maggie against her will because she can’t admit that her missing dog is probably dead. But she is the force that gets Maggie to leave her house. Maggie uses her friends dog to help comfort her into leaving. I really loved the way they explained things with a scientific then personal side a lot of the time. For instance, when Maggie started using Giselle the dog as her own personal therapy dog, she always explains it with her rational therapist, medical view first and then talks more personally about why she thinks dogs are valuable, which as a Pre-Vet major is something I can relate to. I’ve taken animal behavior classes and learned it all in the classroom but I also have 2 of my own dogs so I can pull from personal experience too.
So anyway, we go to Anya’s house to help her look for her dog Billy and Maggie ends up having breakfast with her family. This was one of my favorite scenes because Anya and her 3 brothers are hilarious. It somewhat reminded me of my own family with all of them bickering back and forth and teasing each other and we hear the whole thing from Maggie’s POV who is psychoanalyzing all of them. Even before she gets in the house when Anya’s brother Henry jumps out of the bushes I died. One of my favorite lines from that section was “He seems flustered, rattled, though I can’t imagine why -after all, he’s the one who just jumped out of the bushes” (71). The entire time Henry and Maggie were interacting I was never thinking “couple” because I wasn’t really thinking of this as a contemporary novel but later on when it started to develop more I thought it was cute and that they were a great match. Clive was my favorite brother though. I have a very sarcastic sense of humor and he was so sarcastic so I loved all his witty one liners throughout the meal.
As the book moved on I was glad to see Maggie getting more comfortable quickly and glad they didn’t linger to long with her still completely afraid to go outside. As the book moved to focus on Seymour, and Maggie was thinking Anya would take him, I never doubted that Maggie would end up with him in the end. She kept saying that she couldn’t take a dog who was afraid to go outside because she couldn’t help him but I was thinking all along they would be perfect together. I loved the photo shoot with Anya and everything was going great up until the second family breakfast.
I did not expect everything to blow up like that. I had a suspicion that Anya could tell what was up with Maggie but when she said it in front of everyone and Maggie just got up and left, I was just as shocked as she was. I didn’t really expect that mid-book crisis, even though I should have because contemporaries always have the middle of the book falling out between its 2 main characters. And then the scene after that was when Maggie was finally willing to face what happened to her dog Toby, and I lost it. I sobbed when I read the euthanasia scene. I have seen dogs be put down before, many times, and I don’t cry anymore. It’s just part of working in a vet’s office. But reading it is always so much worse and the poem “May” by Bruce Weigl is one of my favorite poems but is so sad and pretty much the same thing and will always get me. So I cried my eyes out, and if you’ve ever lost a dog or another pet you probably will too.
But then Henry showed up and our adorable little couple finally became a couple type thing. But the entire book Maggie keeps reminding herself that Henry is leaving, but I think it was pretty obvious that they would work out. This story was not about their relationship, it was more of a side story so that was not where the drama of the story was focused. The drama in this story revolved around Anya and Maggie’s relationship and I like that when Maggie really needed to step up for that dog she was able to make herself and Anya was there for her when she needed someone.
Moving into the fundraiser at the end, I never had any doubt about Maggie attending so that was no surprise. I was a little shocked when Henry couldn’t make it, but I was pretty sure he would be there and I was right. But then the way the entire Billy story unraveled! I really thought Billy was going to be the dog tied up in the parking lot they went to rescue but that wan’t it so I was getting worried about how they would wrap that up and it was honestly a real shock. I could not believe that Terrance, Anya’s brother stole him! My original theory was that one of the brothers let him out and felt guilty so they wouldn’t say anything. But then when Maggie made the comment that Anya was certain someone took him I began to think she was right. But I never thought it would have been Terrance. I thought the whole reasoning for getting changed to the benefactor on the will was a little out there and so was her forgiving him so fast but honestly that got moved over so quickly it didn’t even matter because I just about swooned at the end when Maggie charged back into the fundraising to bid for Seymour and they said he was taken. I was so heartbroken but then it was Henry and that was so cute my heart was doing little flips. And then when he had that photo Anya took of Maggie and Seymour in his pocket!!! I died. I love how it was Anya who thought Maggie needed Seymour, when all along Maggie was trying to convince Anya of the same but then when Henry said “I though I could keep Seymour until you’re ready for him” was melt your heart beautiful and honestly a fabulous ending to this story. Of course Henry didn’t leave (saw that coming) but it still made me happy.
In the end this story was really about the dogs though. Not about a certain dog specifically because half the time we’re talking about Toby, who’s dead, or Billy, who’s missing. But I loved the way this story is a nice fictional story and is an interesting read, while exploring the ways that dogs affect humans and how they can shape our lives. On Goodreads I gave this book 5 stars but on a percentage scale I would probably give it a 90% just because there were a few slow moments. I would highly recommend this book to any dog lover and if you’ve read this please leave a comment so we can discuss it!