Have you ever wondered why your dog loves to knock the garbage over and toss it around the room? Dawn Tarnauer knows. Dawn works at a doggie day care, but her insight into the mysterious workings of the canine mind is not training, observation or education. Her source is her mutt, Chuck. On one of the strangest days of Dawn's life, her boyfriend dumps her, announcing he is suddenly moving out of town with another woman. Having already divorced twice, the most recent divorce happening when Dawn finds a stash of gay porn under the mattress, this break-up was by no means the strangest thing to happen to Dawn. However, when her dog comes to comfort her, he asks how she could have missed the smell of the other woman on her boyfriend's pants and Dawn's day hits a new level of bizarre. Chuck is not the only dog expressing himself to Dawn. All the other dogs at the doggie day care make their desires, opinions and problems known. Chuck has decided he is going to have a say about the next man in Dawns life, as if Dawn wasn't making enough of a mess choosing for herself. Dawn is living with her sister Halley, now a life coach, whose positive protrusions are driving Dawn mad. The only thing worse than the advice to self-actualize is that when Halley's week old boyfriend moves in, Dawn finds herself without a place to live. Lost, smarting from her break-up and in housing limbo, Dawn finds that sometimes the sanest parts of her day are Chuck's ruminations on instinct and why dogs do they crazy things they do, like walking in circles before lying down. But when her ex-boyfriend shows back up, contrite and professing his love, Chuck, the dog who has made better family for Dawn then her spastic sister or her self-absorbed mother, takes off. Written in a light, humorous voice, this novel is a fun romp about self-reliance, unconditional love, quirky families, crazy relationships and the importance of the simple things, like throwing a tennis ball. Dawn's ruinous and crazy family, career and love life make a great read all on their own, but Chuck's commentary makes the book priceless. This is a compulsive, fast read full of humorously insightful, if mildly crazy, comments from the dogs. Fans of Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella and other chick lit will find this a quirky, well-written addition to the genre.
Recommended by Megan Willan