Aug 23, 2007

Sight Hound

by Pam Houston

An Irish wolfhound in motion is a beautiful creature of grace, speed and power. Missing a leg, it's just another big, hairy awkward dog. Or is it? This story by Pam Houston of a woman's struggle to save her cancer-ridden dog's life against all odds is inspiring and heart-wrenching. Not just because of the strong bond of love between Rae and her wolfhound Dante, the endless, painful treatments he suffers with patience, the strong rallying support of friends and family. But because this dog knows great dignity and wisdom, and is determined to pass on his steadfast confidence and hope to his human owner. He's not just a dog, he's a philosopher. His observations on life soar above the simplistic remarks of the other animals and the gossip of the people.

That myriad of voices is what I didn't like about this book. Rae, her ex-boyfriend, her fiance, her house-sitter and best friend, her therapist, her vet, the vet's tech, her cat, her other dog, and the wolfhound himself all have something to say. That's ten different points of view, which means you never get to know any of them well. Wait, I forgot two characters: the dog's pen-pal, and another friend of Rae's. So that brings us to twelve! It is so rambling. When I first opened the book I could hardly make out what it was about (except that I had read the flyleaf). It was like jumping into the middle of someone's train of thought, and they don't stop to explain what they're talking about. I would like how candid it feels, if it didn't happen every chapter.

I left Sight Hound feeling like I'd met a bunch of strangers at a party, heard all their stories and opinions about each other, but not come away with any dear friends. What it does accomplish is to show how the lives of twelve beings weave together in support of one grief-stricken dog owner. In spite of all the wandering the story does, it all comes back to Dante and centers on Rae's deep attachment to her dog.

Rating: 3/5                    Published 2005, 342 pages

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