By Matt Ziselman
Once again, I deviate from the usual mystery/thriller reviews to bring you a book I thought was pretty special. I hope you won't mind too much.
How the lives of three dachshunds influence the perspective of their owners. That's what Hounded is all about: looking at the actions, reactions, and personalities of dogs and relating them to the life of Matt Ziselman. He begins the book by sharing the story of how he met his first pet, a German Shepherd, as a young boy. Then he jumps to his current adult life, married with children and the trio of canines in his household. Baxter, the 25 pounder; Maya, the emotionally scarred older dog; and Molly, the happy-go-lucky vicious licker. In every chapter he discusses the quirks, habits, and eccentricities of the dogs. These include: Molly's eating of poop, Baxter's attempts at dominance over the others, and Maya's phobias about the front entrance, hall, and stairs. Then Ziselman will relate these doggie dos to particular instances within his own life. He'll discuss, upon more than one occasion, his parents' death, his own brand of OCD, and how he shouldn't worry so much.
This is not your typical let's-talk-about-my-special-pet book. I love animal books and learning about the pets in people's lives. Ziselman, however, sets out to give us, and himself, life lessons. In fact, he calls them Daschund Life Lessons. At the end, however, he changes those to Life Reminders. The circumstances, personalities, and decisions he discusses in Hounded are those to which many people can relate. We've all done similar things, have similar quirks. And with a discussion of dogs, you can't go wrong.
Baxter: 25 pound dachshund, stares a lot, acts dominant, but is not
Maya: adopted from is assumed but not outright stated, a puppy mill, emotionally scarred, apathetic, has phobias
Molly: happy-go-lucky, the boss, intense licker
Of course there is the author himself whose list of characteristics would pretty much spoil the book and be too long to mention. His wife and daughter are also included. I enjoyed listening to the dogs' quirks and lives and hearing about Ziselman's life was interesting in its own way.
Since this is a certain type of non-fiction book, there is little dialogue. I listened to the audio book so the narrator used a different voice to reflect the author's daughter. Which is fine. Same with the author's wife.
He blends well humor and serious, tear-jerker material. At first, I was a bit put off by his use of profanity, but it works. So, buyer beware, that this is not a children's doggie book. This is for adults. I listened to the audio version which added the extra nice quality of hearing a narrator's inflections which further brought out the humor. I did want to hear more about the dogs and not so quickly moving to the author's dealing with an issue in his life. But that's what the book is about. It doesn't center on the dogs, it shows how a dog's life influences a man's thoughts on his own life. The subject matter gets a little risque or male-oriented when he discusses dog farts and Baxter's apparent disregard that he's neutered. Still a well written, well thought out book. His use of language is excellent.