Dog Years – Mark Doty


“For someone grieving for animals, the problem’s compounded. You can’t tell most people about the death of your dog, not quite; there is an expectation that you shouldn’t overreact, shouldn’t place too much weight on this loss. In the scheme of things, shouldn’t this be a smaller matter? It’s just a dog; get another one”  (Doty).

Mark Doty’s memoir, Dog Years has been on my shelf for over a year but I didn’t pick it up until last month. If only I had opened those pages sooner perhaps I wouldn’t have spent most of my summer finding Miko’s hair in the corners of my life and crying about it, then feeling guilty for crying about it. I wouldn’t have gotten angry every time someone said, “Sorry about your dog,” as if my car had broken down or I lost my job.

It’s just a job, get another one.

I felt misunderstood. And alone. But Doty’s book did something so much better than saying it’s all going to be okay. It validated the feelings of grief felt over a best friend that just happened to have four legs.

However, this is more than just a book for those who have lost a pet. Although Doty’s book centers on loss (of his furry companions as well as his partner) more important than the end of these lives is the lives. What does it mean to live? To experience the stages of life? To watch helplessly as those we love move through life? This book is labeled as memoir, but at the same time it is a biography of two dogs. Much like life, it is humor and sorrow… and it’s beautiful.


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