cover image Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

Caroline Knapp. Dial Press, $21.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31698-9

Following her bestselling memoir, Drinking: A Love Story, Knapp's account of her ""mutual and unambiguous and exceptionally private"" relationship with Lucille, a small German shepherd mix, illuminates beautifully how the dog's unconditional love filled the gaping hole in Knapp's emotional life after her parents died and she quit drinking. Drawing on charming but alpha-tough anecdotes from her own experience and those of her dog-loving friends (primarily single and female), Knapp describes with affectionate amusement the great, often expensive lengths to which owners go to insure that their pets are well trained and well balanced. As a pup, Lucille goes with Knapp to obedience school for education, to day care for baby-sitting and to play dates with other dogs for recreation. They visit dog psychics and therapists to explain mysterious, troubled behavior, and a canine behaviorist for a few weeks of discipline. Throughout, Knapp has a canny nose for emotional detail: ""Living with a dog is like being followed around 24 hours a day by a mute psychoanalyst,"" Knapp writes. ""Feelings float up from inside and attach themselves to the dog, who will not question their validity, or hold up your behavior to scrutiny, or challenge your perceptions."" Lucille's arrival is followed by boyfriend Michael's departure, and Knapp intelligently plumbs criticism from outside the dog world that she and others ""use their pets as surrogates, to retreat into the world of animals in order to bypass more problematic and complex human relationships."" Anyone who loves dogs, and particularly prospective first-time owners, will delight in this exploration of man's (or in this case, woman's) best friend and of the ""significant other"" role a dog often plays in a one-person household. First serial to Glamour. (June)