MY THERAPIST'S DOG: Lessons in Unconditional Love

Diana Wells, Author . Algonquin $16.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-56512-371-7

After her son and her sister die within weeks of each other, Wells (100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names ) goes against her British "stiff upper lip" upbringing, which warns her therapy is only for the weak, and seeks out Beth, a psychologist. Wells cares for Beth's Labrador retriever, Luggs, in exchange for sessions she could not otherwise afford, and thus begins an unconventional, intricate dance between patient and therapist. Wells slowly opens up to Beth, comparing herself to a puppy, desperate for her therapist's love: "Sometimes I felt that I, too, frantically barked, endeavoring to attract Beth's attention and affection." She interweaves recollections of her life and her sessions with historical information about dogs. After her son's death, she quits going to Quaker meeting and comes to see walking dogs as an alternate form of spirituality her son would have liked; she uses this as an occasion to muse on the high regard many cultures have held for the dog as guardian of the afterlife. Sometimes these cultural tidbits interrupt Wells's more compelling and honest reflections about her relationship with Beth, which form the heart of this book. Beth's eventual illness confronts Wells again with loss; the way both patient and psychologist care for each other through this illness is poignant testimony to the power of healing relationships. (June)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 198 pages - 978-1-56512-789-0
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