For The Love of a Dog by Amanda Brookfield
My ears pricked up when I saw this book on NetGalley, especially when I read in the description that the dog in question was a Goldendoodle. It is written by Amanda Brookfield, a novelist with fifteen fiction Best Sellers under her belt. It is her account of going through a breakdown and against all personal instinct, family advice, and intensive research, she sought out a puppy to help her heal.
After the death of her mother and the end of a post-divorce relationship leave her heartbroken, novelist Amanda Brookfield finds her once secure world imploding. As despair closes in, she talks of getting a puppy to revive her optimistic spirit.
Amanda is advised that her lifestyle will not suit becoming a dog-owner but she can’t resist Mabel, a beautiful golden doodle puppy. Arming herself with an arsenal of equipment, Amanda learns that there are no short-cuts to training and caring for a dog. Through battling daily challenges and constantly regrouping, Amanda realises she is starting to come to terms with her bereavement and the prospect of facing the rest of her life alone.
For the Love of a Dog tells the bigger, more poignant story about the labour of emotional recovery after the trauma of loss. Mabel shines like a light throughout, the unwitting architect of rebuilding self-belief. Mabel’s own journey is equally captivating: as she blossoms into a mischievous, endearing head-turner of a companion – as affectionate as she is glorious.
Amanda Brookfield delivers a powerful and emotional account of her battle with mental health and the joy which was brought back into her life by a Goldendoodle puppy called Mabel.
This isn’t a sugar-coated story of how a dog instantly changed Amanda’s life but an honest account of the highs and lows of owning a new puppy, especially at a difficult time of life.
Becoming a puppy owner wasn’t a quick decision for Amanda, she battled her need for a dog in her life, travelled hundreds of miles. read all the right books and listened to advice from friends and family. However, the pull towards a little Goldendoodle puppy in Wales was just too strong and Mabel was welcomed into her home.
For anyone who has suffered from depression, the act of getting out of bed in the morning can be the hardest part of the day. Now Amanda had no choice but to get up and see to her puppy’s needs. Out walking people stopped and asked about the little bundle of white fluff and Amanda found herself enjoying the conversations with like-minded dog lovers.
I related with the sheer joy of watching a dog watch David Attenborough documentaries and the comfort from crying into a dog’s fur. I nodded my head firmly in agreement as Amanda tried desperately to keep a large white dog with a penchant for puddles, clean and groomed.
For The Love of a Dog is filled with humour and lovely anecdotes of her lovely late mum. She is achingly honest about the greyness that can descend after heartbreak and grief. The reader goes on a journey with Amanda which shows how Mabel gave her the strength to start writing again, socialising, even dating.
My only disappointment was that the digital ARC I read didn’t contain photographs. I was desperate to see Mabel and compare how she looks to my daughter’s one-year-old Goldendoodle. Then right at the end, there is a photograph of Amanda and Mabel, and she is exactly how I imagined…
This is my favourite quote from the book.
“On all sides, for almost a year now, she has been opening doors. All I have to do is find the courage to walk through them”
I devoured the book in one sitting, but it’s one which I shall read again and again. This is a must read, not just for dog lovers but for anyone who has experienced heartbreak and extreme grief.
It shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, not the same light as before but one which gives strength, acceptance and even joy.
It also shows the amazing healing strength of dogs, how they know what you are feeling and are unjudgemental and kind at all times. How they enter your life at just the right time and somehow makes things better.