How Far Would You Go To Know If Your Dog Loves You?

How far would you go to find out if your dog loved you? Would you cross the country and back again? Would you consult a therapist? A pet communicator?

Golden retriever in car.

Because Benoit Denizet-Lewis did those things and more wondering if his Labrador retriever, Casey, loved him. Oh, and while he was at it, he explored the state of life with dogs in America. The result is the engaging and informative memoir, Travels With Casey.

Literature fans will immediately see a parallel to John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley (affiliate) as Denizet-Lewis sets off in a rented RV with his dog. But while Steinbeck explored the state of the country by meeting its people, Denizet-Lewis pondered the human-canine bond.

Dog and campers.

If you’re looking for people with dogs, RV campgrounds are the place to go.

He did it by visiting America’s first dog park in New York, meeting The Thundering Herd and their hu-dads, visiting the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, attending dock-diving classes for dogs, and much more.

Along the way, he discovered that people love their dogs more than ever. He recounted the tale of being pulled over for erratic driving by a K-9 officer who confessed he let his working partner dog sleep in his bed.

Police dog.

Working partner and friend to some K-9 police officers.

He told stories about domestic violence shelters finding they were better able to help their human clients by making room for their dogs as well. And in one of the most compelling parts of the book, Denizet-Lewis introduced us to dog rescuer Randy Grim of East St. Louis—probably the greatest proof that passion can make even the biggest scaredy-cat brave when they have a job to do.

But you’re probably wondering what I was while reading the book. Did Denizet-Lewis ever satisfy himself that Casey loved him? That he wouldn’t prefer living with another person?

The psychotherapist the author met with before his trip told him not to expect traveling with Casey to be a bonding moment that would transform their relationship. But he also led Denizet-Lewis to wonder if he wasn’t projecting all his need for love and acceptance onto his dog. Maybe it was time to look at Casey with fresh eyes.

And ultimately, that’s what this trip did. It gave Denizet-Lewis a new appreciation for how accepting and calm Casey was. And how wonderful it was to share a home with him, even when the home was a rental RV rocketing down the highway.

Travels with Casey had me pondering my relationship with my golden retriever, Honey (But heck, you know me. What doesn’t have me pondering my relationship with Honey?) And like Denizet-Lewis, I wondered about how sometimes I expect Honey to fill needs that aren’t a dog’s responsibility to fill.

Pam ask Honey if she loves her.

Pam: Do you love me?
Honey: Do I WOOF?

Go Pet Friendly logo.It also reminded me how deeply steeped I am in dog-human culture. I smiled to see friends like Amy and Rod of Go Pet Friendly meeting the author at an RV park. The book referenced only one book I hadn’t already read. Quoted experts felt like “old friends.”

Reading Travels with Casey, at times, felt like reading a travel guide to a place I knew well. And if I’m honest, there’s no place I’d rather be than in a dog-crazy world.

I loved this book. And I bet you’ll love it too.

If you live in the continental U.S., enter for a chance to win your very own copy of Travels with Casey from the publisher. And if you’re not eligible to enter the giveaway, you can preorder the book (publication date July 22) by clicking the image below (affiliate).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosures: The publisher provided an electronic galley of this book for my review. I received no payment for my review and offered my honest opinions. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means that if you order something after clicking the link I will earn a small payment. Your item(s) will not cost you more but you will be supporting Something Wagging. Thanks so much.

photo credits: (Campers with dog)vastateparksstaff via photopin cc, (Police Dog) Svadilfari via photopin cc. Click on the images to learn more about the photographers.

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  1. This looks like a fun book…getting it on my list.

  2. What a great post. Thanks for adding the video clip – it makes me more interested than ever to order!

  3. I don’t ever question if my dogs love me, they show it every day! Much better than most people for that matter. Of course it could just be love of the food I feed them 😉

    Count me in for the book giveaway. I love a good dog book.

  4. De Cunningham (@skye613) says:

    I have wondered about this at times but when I look at my crew the answer is in their eyes.

  5. Mom knows we love her just by our actions and people that see us together tell us they can see how we just hang all over her. We know she loves us too. The book may be fun anyway, though.

  6. This doesn’t sound interesting at all.

  7. I do often wonder if Rita is happy here. Or whether she’d be happier living with my sis – so she could play with her cousin Corgi Reggie all day long! But we remind her quite often that she’s moved from the mean streets to easy street, so she’s got nothing to complain about!

    I loved Travels with Charley and this looks like a good read!

  8. Marie & Jason says:

    We’d love to read this book, since we’ve pups of our own as well!

  9. Marie & Jason says:

    Our pups whimper when we aren’t near, so we take them almost everywhere we go! We’d love to read the book as well!

  10. I know he loves being with us, although sometimes he says we’re boring when we won’t let him out to chase squirrels.

  11. I know my pups love me, they’re always pressed up against me at night and it’s not because they’re cold. We live in Florida!

  12. This is something I have come to realise while looking at my relationship with BD and Mity. I think I am guilty of putting my insecurities and fears onto them. To get very deep, what is love anyway? I know that we are all pottering through figuring it out as we go and I do my very best for them and they do their best for me. I don’t need to put a label on that.

    The book sounds fab by the way!

  13. I wish Jedi enjoyed travelling more. He likes being in different places, but doesn’t like the actual car ride. He was car sick as a pup and it seems that he’s never quite gotten over the memory of that.

  14. I just read about this book yesterday! And it’s definitely on my reading list, so it would be awesome if we won!

    We travel a lot with our dogs, and have driven from New England all the way to Wisonsin with them. (twice) They often make the very best traveling companions!

  15. I am anxious to read his book. I followed him on FB during his journey.

  16. Jessica says:

    I always wonder if my dog is happy with me. I rescued her last year and we’ve been struggling to make her comfortable with all people, me included. I always hope that she’s happy even as we work through her issues.