This book starts out in a way I cannot disagree with- Gotham discusses his absolute obsession with getting a dog when he was younger. His parents relent and he gets an awesome dog. The dog is wonderful, affects everyone in his own way, grows old and dies. This dogs story is more of a prologue than the meat of the story because, as an adult he gets a second dog which he shares with his girlfriend (who later becomes his wife) and we see the transition from college students, to married couple, to dog+first born stage. It is this second dog, Cleo, that is center stage in Walking Wisdom.
It was refreshing to see these stages of transition in their lives fully fleshed out in relation to the dog. Often people do not truly consider the dogs role in your life as you transition, change, mature, move, expand your family, etc. Often people think of it as little more than an accessory. This is a terrible way to approach an animal who is a part of your family; a feeling, breathing, thinking member of your family who deserves consideration on levels beyond potty and feeding times.
I was most moved by Chopra’s exploration of how his son and his dog fit (or did not fit together). His opinion and ponderings about the dog as a philosophical jumping off point was truly inspiring. I thought a lot about my own dog (as any reader would do) considering how he had affected my life, my love, my philosophy. What dogs have to teach us about patience, forgiveness, adjustment, acceptance of others, etc. is vast. There’s a lot there to ponder! And luckily, in this book you could not have a better guide.
Chopra’s writing is easy to follow and a pleasure to read. He has just the right mix of humor, seriousness, personal information, and philosophical tangents to keep the reader grounded and inspired to new heights all in the right mixture.
I would recommend this book especially to couples who do not yet have children and dogs. I’m always saddened when I hear of a couple who had a dog, then decides to have a baby and gets rid of the dog. I wish these people didn’t have children (or pets). I don’t think they have (or at least don’t encourage the development of) a kind compassionate soul capable of teaching strong morals and love to their children that encompasses all living things. What are you teaching your child? That every time something new comes in, you’ll throw away the old? That commitments and promises to take care of family members are mere whims that need not be kept. That animals are objects to be used up and nothing more. That when the going gets barky that you’ll throw the dog out with the bathwater? Commitments and promises to living things must be honored. I would not trust a person who gives away/puts down their dog because they now have a baby. I’ve known of people who had “trouble” from their dogs when a baby was born. They devised plans to keep the dog and baby separate until this was worked out, or hired trainers to help, or recruited family members to help sort out the dog/baby drama. They did not get rid of the dog.
I’ve also known people who did not intervene and teach their children how to behave around animals. These children would be bit and scratched and out goes the pet- instead of teaching the child how to respect, love, and be gentle. Wow. Way to go. Stellar parenting. Again, wish these people didn’t have children or pets. I’m on a tangent and I apologize. I feel strongly on this subject, obviously. And this book was an honest long look at how the dog interacted with their son, and their own decision making process about keeping or getting rid of the dog (they kept the dog. hallelujah. and I’ll applaud their idea of giving it to a family member as opposed to putting it down/taking it to a shelter/etc.).
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to fellow dog owners. However, a word of caution: if you listen to the audio version as I did, do know that Gotham Chopra reads it and while he’s very good, he’s very often hard to understand who he is quoting (his dad, himself, or just words not attached to a person). He doesn’t do much to change his voice (okay, nothing) and so you’re left halfway through a passage thinking, ‘wait…is this his dad, him, or just quotes from some other book or passage…’ and you have to figure it out. That was a bit frustrating but not so bad that you couldn’t sort through it or decide it didn’t matter.
Rating: 5 out of 5 inspired and thoughtful tail thumps!