Woodrow’s Wisdom

Author Jenna Blum learns life lessons from her terminally ill (canine) companion.

Black Lab Woodrow on Book Cover

I’ve only ever cried over two books, and Jenna Blum’s forthcoming memoir, Woodrow on the Bench: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog, is one of them. In it, the bestselling author chronicles life with her 15-year-old black Lab, Woodrow, in their final seven months together.

I’d never considered myself a dog person; I really, really wasn’t. I don’t like the shed hair stuck to the sofa or forming monster hairballs in the corners, the drool that anticipates a bone, the mess in the yard. But that was before. Things changed when I got my 12-ounce baby poodle, Judy. Then, after my husband (a dog whisperer) absconded with Judy’s affection, a little Yorkie — Gypsy Rose — joined the family. I was in love.

My rule had always been that when a dog becomes incontinent or unable to walk without assistance, euthanasia is the proper option. But that belief has changed. My husband caring for his infirm rat terrier, Bull, and both of us caring for our 11-year-old German short-haired pointer, Boots, have been lessons in empathy for me. (We lost both within a week-and-a-half of each other.) Now, after reading about Blum’s total devotion to her ailing Woodrow, her story — along with my husband’s commitment — has given me a new, more compassionate perspective.

The bacon-carrot-and-lady-loving Woodrow was Blum’s constant companion. Men came and went, but Woodrow was always with her. He was the one who experienced her big life events — when she wrote her novels, traveled for an author tour, took teaching jobs, moved into a bigger apartment, went through a divorce, and lost her mother to breast cancer.

Read the rest of my article at Washington Independent Review of Books.