Dogged Optimism by Belinda Pollard

When writer Belinda Pollard acquired her spunky Australian Terrier in May of 1998, she had no idea in what ways the furry little hurricane would change her life - and herself.  In Dogged Optimism: Lessons in Joy from a Disaster Prone Dog, Pollard compiles the story of her adventure with bright-eyed, ever-inquisitive Killarney, and in her quietly humorous, heartfelt way she fills the pages of the memoir with the meaningful essence of dog ownership.  Through sixteen "lessons" Killarney teaches Belinda how to live fiercely and freely, while she, a natural-born worrier, warily follows Killarney's lead into the sometimes frightening joys of life.  The result is a heartwarming tribute to woman's best friend and an engaging examination of how growth can find its way to us in the most unexpected ways.

Over the course of life with the spirited Killarney, her dearly beloved "Puddly", Belinda faces challenges in work and in life as she wrestles with her career in publishing and her dreams of writing a novel.  Along the way, with one eye ever watchful on Killarney should anything treacherous arise in her Brisbane yard to disturb or harm her dog, Belinda suffers personal loss, survives heartbreak, overcomes fears, travels for work and pleasure, and finally brings her novel, Poison Bay, into the world.  The journey is frequently punctuated by emergency trips to the vet, late-night toad-hunting excursions, and the painstaking devotion of caring for an aging dog.  From puppyhood to her golden years, Killarney's colorful spirit inspires the author to live her fullest life - to "grab life by the scruff of the neck and shake it" in true Killarney fashion.

Pollard's love of dogs is immediately evident in her writing as she spins numerous stories with the wide-eyed wonderment and frazzled nerves of a new dog owner alongside the perpetual adoration with which we view our pets.  Not just a heartwarming biography of a special dog's happy life, Dogged Optimism also finds itself effective as a memoir on personal growth, the kind which dog ownership thrusts upon us unsuspecting, harried, utterly gratified humans. While thoroughly poignant and constantly empathetic, Dogged Optimism also avoids becoming an full-on tearjerker, which is rather refreshing in the realm of four-legged nonfiction.  Instead, Pollard devotes her every ounce of love and enthusiasm into this charming account of unexpected joy.  Through her compassionate narrative Pollard successfully introduces her readers to a most delightful little dog and instills in them the sense of loyalty, fulfillment, and purity of happiness as only our dogs can teach us.  Dogged Optimism is a treasure for anyone who has ever loved a dog.

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