Title: The Wrong Dog Dream
Author: Jane Vandenburgh
“… I know it’s not that we love our animals more than we do our people, only that our feelings about our people are complicated so it’s only in the loss of an animal we feel this honest and pristine, as if there is nothing in our lives that has ever been more true,” Jane Vandenburgh explains in her novel, The Wrong Dog Dream.
At two hundred and thirty-seven pages, this hard bound book has a photograph of a large brown dog sympathetically looking at the reader on the front cover. With the author being a college teacher of writing and literature and having two prior novels published, she freely uses no quotation marks during conversations and includes lengthy sentences that may either enhance or distract the reading experience. With profanity and a constantly fluctuating belief in God, the story is most likely targeted toward adult readers who have an affinity for canine pets.
Written from her own perspective, Jane Vandenburgh feels she and her family have been pet-cursed throughout her childhood and adult life by always owning the specific pet that runs away, dies early or has to be put down, causing profound turmoil.
Through a series of disarming dreams, she worries, stresses and over-thinks every time a pet is in her charge. Divorced with two school-age children who mainly live with their father in California, Jane and her new husband Jack move to Washington D.C. and become owners of Whistler, a purebred English springer spaniel. There they fall into line of other responsible dog owners with top-notch vets, a drill-sergeant dog trainer and an education of springer rage to become the best dog owners possible. When they move to a barn on a large working farm in West Virginia, author, husband and Whistler find calmness and serenity.
However, sadness, heartache and despondency take over both humans when Whistler succumbs to bloat while staying at a nearby kennel when the owners take a trip to California to see their families. With nothing left but sorrow, Jane and Jack get a second chance when they adopt, Thiebaud, a three and a half month “porch hound” mutt.
Still looking for peace and solitude by being closer to family, the three move back to Northern California, moving into an apartment complex and then a small house in Point Richmond. Both Jane and Jack have to deal with new pet ownership issues that clearly show their love, loyalty and altruism toward Thiebaud.
Weaved in between the dogs’ antics, personalities, friends and frustrations, the writer gives details of the cities, towns, locales, and layouts of streets that tend to be interesting but tedious. With capitalization of words or entire words for emphasis, the reader keeps reading the ramblings, rantings and repetitions to find the writer realizes how each individual pet owned becomes an integral, important part of the family unit.