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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.