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In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, and an uncanny knack for living in the moment. Whether chasing a tennis ball or protecting those she loved, Trixie gave all she had to everything she did, inspiring Dean and Gerda to trust their instincts and recapture a sense of wonder that will remain with them always. Trixie lived fewer than twelve years; in this wide world, she was a little thing. But in every way that mattered, she lived a big life.


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In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, and an uncanny knack for living in the moment. Whether chasing a tennis ball or protecting those she loved, Trixie gave all she had to everything she did, inspiring Dean and Gerda to trust their instincts and recapture a sense of wonder that will remain with them always. Trixie lived fewer than twelve years; in this wide world, she was a little thing. But in every way that mattered, she lived a big life.

30 review for A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    Dean Koontz's heartfelt memoir is a mixed bag for me. As someone who loves animals, loves dogs in particular, and is a semi-fan of his novels I experienced different emotions while reading. Most were positive, but not all. I will try to rate this book from each of these perspectives. The Animal Lover - 3.5/5 stars! So I'm the type of person who loves all furred and feathered creatures, and I love to hear life-changing stories about how these animals effect humans. Thus, I was enthralled as each ch Dean Koontz's heartfelt memoir is a mixed bag for me. As someone who loves animals, loves dogs in particular, and is a semi-fan of his novels I experienced different emotions while reading. Most were positive, but not all. I will try to rate this book from each of these perspectives. The Animal Lover - 3.5/5 stars! So I'm the type of person who loves all furred and feathered creatures, and I love to hear life-changing stories about how these animals effect humans. Thus, I was enthralled as each chapter told a special memory/story that happened to the popular author and his faithful Golden Retriever. Many of the stories were quite interesting indeed. For example, Koontz recalls taking his dog Trixie out for walks by a tennis court and how Trixie would spend much of her time looking for lost balls and bringing them to him when found. Once, however, there weren't any balls. Trixie wouldn’t let it go. She squatted down and uttered something that sounded like "Baw" to tell her owner what she wanted. Animals are a wonder! Dog Lover - 2/5 stars Any dog lover will tell you, they are amazing creatures. Even the least-personable dog can provide hours of great storytelling. It’s easy to reminisce over their silly habits or how they seem just so human sometimes. Essentially that is what this entire book is about. Koontz recalls key memories of Trixie and the things she did. One would expect these stories to be quite unique if its worthy of filling 300 pages, but odds are your dog is more interesting than the bestselling novelists'. For example, some chapters are dedicated to recounting the time Trixie showed signs of remembering the word "Nacho" even though it had been months since last mentioned, or that she would never pee on the Koontz's property but rather chose the neighbors land, or how she would sit in a chair and watch television, seemingly enthralled. Wow… these are the type of stories that coworkers drone on and on about and you smile helplessly, trying to pretend you’re listening. It's warm and fuzzy to read about one man's love for his dog, but even with his hilarious and bestselling prose, Koontz loses my interest during these dull chapters. The Semi-Koontz Fan - 4/5 stars Perhaps the people who will enjoy this book most aren't even that interested in animals, but ones who visit their Barnes and Noble every 3 months to pick up the latest Koontz novel. I'm not one of those people, but I have read a hefty handful of his books and most of the time enjoy them. As another reviewer mentioned, it’s worth slugging through the memoir just to sneak a glance at the habits of a hugely successful author. Fans, of course, have seen and heard about Trixie long before her death and the publication of this book. She can often be seen embracing the author on his back cover photographs, and her name has even made it to the dedication page. Therefore it is nice to know more about her, but more interestingly how she effected Dean's work habits and inspired him to write certain books. You'll hear backstory on many favorites like From the Corner of his Eye, Odd Thomas, False Memory, The Darkest Evening of the Year, and others. You'll learn a little bit about his relationship with his wife Gerda, the early years of their marriage, and how Dean wooed her in high school. The bits about the dog are nice, but this is the stuff real Koontz fans won't want to miss. --------- The Final Conclusion: Ultimately this is an okay book. The writing is signature Koontz and the story is sweet, but it does suffer from flaws. Other than the sometimes unnecessary and boring stories, Koontz will often go on tangents using the infamous "they" as a source for people who claim dogs are unintelligent and lack social skills, but leaves the reader wondering who “they” are. If there was ever a universal feeling in these divided times, it’s that dogs are intelligent. Every word is written with honesty, though, and for that you kind of have to put it on a different level. Koontz isn't trying to write a persuasive essay, he's just jotting down what his heart tells him as he recalls Trixie after her unfortunate death. He happens to be a prolific author, but the fact that a dog can warm his heart just like the rest of us is fairly moving. All in all, if you choose to read this you won't feel like you completely wasted your time. If you have any interests in animals or Koontz himself, you’re sure to get something out of it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    jv poore

    So good, I have to share it with "my" students.

  3. 4 out of 5

    UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

    "To us, Trixie was more than a dog. She was a child, entrusted to our care so that we might find in ourselves greater tenderness than we had imagined we possessed." I literally just finished listening to Christopher Lane’s brilliant performance of Dean Koontz’s poignant A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie, stopping only long enough to blow my nose and wipe the tears from my eyes before writing this review.Blurb… In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a belo "To us, Trixie was more than a dog. She was a child, entrusted to our care so that we might find in ourselves greater tenderness than we had imagined we possessed." I literally just finished listening to Christopher Lane’s brilliant performance of Dean Koontz’s poignant A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie, stopping only long enough to blow my nose and wipe the tears from my eyes before writing this review.Blurb… In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, and an uncanny knack for living in the moment. Whether chasing a tennis ball or protecting those she loved, Trixie gave all she had to everything she did, inspiring Dean and Gerda to trust their instincts and recapture a sense of wonder that will remain with them always. Trixie lived fewer than twelve years; in this wide world, she was a little thing. But in every way that mattered, she lived a big life.I can’t find the words to use that will make you understand how amazing this memoir is. It’s not just a story about a man and a woman and their dog, it’s what I can say is one of the most life enriching stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading or listening to. I was so impressed and moved by Mr. Koontz's openly candid thoughts and recollections of how Trixie changed his life and, in my opinion, in many ways, saved it. There are so many quotes I wanted to share, but being on audio and being a complete blubbering ninny while listening to the most profound of the quotes, I wasn’t able to catch them. But make no mistake, this isn’t a depressing story. Sure, there were moments I wept so deeply I was sure I'd never recover, but in fact it’s one of the most uplifting, hopeful, insightful books I can remember experiencing, and I will listen to it again and again.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beckbunch

    What was it that made me roll my eyes repeatedly while reading this book? It certainly wasn't the dog, Trixie, who seemed to be a perfect canine ambassador. It was the author's "hey, look at how great I am" attitude that ran throughout the entire story. From the house that he mentions took 10 years to build (with several floors, in-home theater, elevator, "sweeping staircase", ocean view, etc etc) to Trixie's weekly appointment at the groomers (this is in addition to the 45 minute daily morning What was it that made me roll my eyes repeatedly while reading this book? It certainly wasn't the dog, Trixie, who seemed to be a perfect canine ambassador. It was the author's "hey, look at how great I am" attitude that ran throughout the entire story. From the house that he mentions took 10 years to build (with several floors, in-home theater, elevator, "sweeping staircase", ocean view, etc etc) to Trixie's weekly appointment at the groomers (this is in addition to the 45 minute daily morning brushing she gets at home, which should not be confused with the shorter afternoon brushing. How much brushing does this dog require?) to the art and antiques and the weekend beach house. The whole thing was hard to stomach. I don't begrudge a person who works hard and then enjoys the fruits of their labors, but this read like someone who's done all that and REALLY wants you to know about it. No doubt the author and his wife were completely devoted to their wonderful dog and that they loved her well. For that, I'll give the book 1 star. Trixie, of course, deserves 5 stars. She couldn't have cared less if her master lived in a mansion with an ocean view or a trailer by the side of the road. In that regard, dogs have humans beat, every time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan Mangigian

    This was a beautiful book. Dog lovers, beware. It's a memoir, so it's not a spoiler to know that he writes about the end of his dog's life. Just about killed me to read it, but so worth it. Dean Koontz is a wonderful, funny and charming storyteller and not at all like I imagined him to be. He's silly and self deprecating and even though we are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as organization and neatness, I can imagine being his friend. He and his wife are kind, caring, funny and dog love This was a beautiful book. Dog lovers, beware. It's a memoir, so it's not a spoiler to know that he writes about the end of his dog's life. Just about killed me to read it, but so worth it. Dean Koontz is a wonderful, funny and charming storyteller and not at all like I imagined him to be. He's silly and self deprecating and even though we are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as organization and neatness, I can imagine being his friend. He and his wife are kind, caring, funny and dog lovers. What more can you ask for in a friend. Great read but like I said, very, very sad in the end. I always tell my dog that the only thing wrong with him is that he won't live forever. Truly, the purest and most generous creature God ever created.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tom Mueller

    As a member of the floridasaintrescue.com and a lifetime lover of animals, dogs in particular, I know of the intelligence and emotional awareness of dogs. Koontz vividly explores his very special Trixie's emotions, self awareness and intelligence and moreso, conveys her impact on his life and the lives of all who knew Trixie. I am honored to have been given a glimpse of Trixie's being through her and Koontz' writing during the time they had together. I thank Dean Koontz for the solace he's given u As a member of the floridasaintrescue.com and a lifetime lover of animals, dogs in particular, I know of the intelligence and emotional awareness of dogs. Koontz vividly explores his very special Trixie's emotions, self awareness and intelligence and moreso, conveys her impact on his life and the lives of all who knew Trixie. I am honored to have been given a glimpse of Trixie's being through her and Koontz' writing during the time they had together. I thank Dean Koontz for the solace he's given us with A Big Little Life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scottie

    Loved this book! I haven't read any of Dean Koontz's books, but was given this one by another dog lover. What a great story and he wrote this story so well. It made me laugh in so many places and I felt like I knew his furry daughter, Trixie. I think his insights to dogs and their intelligence (and everything) is really so incredible. I have been a dog lover and mom for most of my life and I share in many of his experiences with Trixie. He and his wife were so fortunate that things worked out fo Loved this book! I haven't read any of Dean Koontz's books, but was given this one by another dog lover. What a great story and he wrote this story so well. It made me laugh in so many places and I felt like I knew his furry daughter, Trixie. I think his insights to dogs and their intelligence (and everything) is really so incredible. I have been a dog lover and mom for most of my life and I share in many of his experiences with Trixie. He and his wife were so fortunate that things worked out for them to get Trixie. She was just as fortunate to get them as her parents. If you love dogs or even just like them, you should read this book. If you like his other books, you should read this to see him in a new way. I would highly recommend this book. It is so well written, very entertaining, and easy to read but hard to put down. Thanks for sharing your story of Trixie, Dean, and I'll be reading more about her since I just ordered one of her other books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    I've never read any of Koontz's other books. I think he mostly writes mysteries. This book is about his golden retriever named Trixie. Guess where he got her from?! CCI! If you've read my blog you've seen the pictures of my dad and his wife's new dog Emma (formerly known as Marla). Emma was given to them by CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) because he and Trudy do fundraisers and other volunteer work for them. How surprised I was then to see how much A Big Little Life focuses on the CCI p I've never read any of Koontz's other books. I think he mostly writes mysteries. This book is about his golden retriever named Trixie. Guess where he got her from?! CCI! If you've read my blog you've seen the pictures of my dad and his wife's new dog Emma (formerly known as Marla). Emma was given to them by CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) because he and Trudy do fundraisers and other volunteer work for them. How surprised I was then to see how much A Big Little Life focuses on the CCI program. What a coincidence! Dean Koontz and his wife Gerda did a lot of work with CCI as well, and like my dad and Trudy, they were given a dog who was released because of an injury while actually working as a support dog. Some of the animal books I read I think people would like even if they are not animal lovers, but this guy, Koontz, is over the top and only dog people, like myself, could probably relate. If you know what Frosty Paws are, this book is for you (it's an ice cream treat for dogs that is sold at the grocery store, and my dogs love it). If you think a dog can understand a word like "nachos," this book is for you. If you are certain that dogs possess souls, this book is for you. If you think dogs can tell what time of day it is and what is expected to happen at certain times of the day, this book is for you. If you've ever loved a dog so much you sobbed when it was sick or passed away, this book is for you. Dean Koontz doesn't know it, but he and his wife are my new best friends. Anyone who sleeps on the kitchen floor with their sick dog all night is my friend. Don't worry, this isn't a Marley and Me sob story, but the humor and the antics are similar. And yes I did cry, but I always cry while reading dog books because the authors always relate so well the love between a pet parent and their dog. And I know exactly what they're talking about. And it makes me cry. That's all. Get this book. You won't be disappointed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gary Taylor

    Sappy pooch portrait produces cornball canine cartoon Dean Koontz's attempt at nonfiction in A Big Little Life is a presumptuous and predictable love letter to his dog. Reading it was like being trapped at the office Christmas party by a co-worker whose kid made the little league all-star team over the summer. But I found an escape. Just when I considered tossing the thing a third of the way through, I realized I actually wanted to see how the master of suspense would handle the death of his belo Sappy pooch portrait produces cornball canine cartoon Dean Koontz's attempt at nonfiction in A Big Little Life is a presumptuous and predictable love letter to his dog. Reading it was like being trapped at the office Christmas party by a co-worker whose kid made the little league all-star team over the summer. But I found an escape. Just when I considered tossing the thing a third of the way through, I realized I actually wanted to see how the master of suspense would handle the death of his beloved Trixie. All dog books and movies climax with the death of the dog. So I knew it was coming, and I knew the tears would flow. But I wondered: Would Koontz actually give her a Viking's funeral pyre? Would he see a chariot arrive to carry her soul to doggie heaven? Would he take Trixie to a taxidermist so she could sit in his living room the rest of his life? Anticipation left me giddy. As a result, I began instead to read the rest of A Big Little Life as a comedy. Suddenly it started to work for me. If you need a good laugh and decide to read this book for that, I won't spoil the ending by revealing the agony of Trixie's death. As a work of humor, I'd rate it four dog biscuits. As a serious memoir, however, it suffers from the author's naivete and self-indulgence. I found it naïve to believe he is the only one who has experienced these emotions with a dog and self-indulgent to believe anyone else should care. I often winced in embarrassment for this marvelous wordsmith as he gushed at length about such mundane mutt matters as Trixie's toilet habits, recounting them like they belonged in the Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. But then, Dean Koontz has plenty of fans who will care. If he publishes his grocery list, he'll find thousands of buyers for that, with many of them eager to post five-star reviews on Amazon. In this case, he's done only a little more. I just hope he donates all the money to the SPCA. As a fellow author and dog owner, I respect Koontz's skills at both. I just think he got a little carried away with this experience, and I can't resist poking fun. But readers should understand how much sap they'll have to endure while reaching any nuggets of insight in A Big Little Life.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is going to sound cliche, but there is no other way to put this. If you love animals, especially dogs, you must read this book. My next statement is cliche too. The book made me laugh out loud and cry real tears. It really did. I have never read anything Dean Koontz has written, but I have become a fan of his because of this book. A Big Little Life is the story of Trixie, Dean and Gerda Koontz's adopted service dog. Trixie is a golden retriever with so much intelligence, beauty, joy, and lov This is going to sound cliche, but there is no other way to put this. If you love animals, especially dogs, you must read this book. My next statement is cliche too. The book made me laugh out loud and cry real tears. It really did. I have never read anything Dean Koontz has written, but I have become a fan of his because of this book. A Big Little Life is the story of Trixie, Dean and Gerda Koontz's adopted service dog. Trixie is a golden retriever with so much intelligence, beauty, joy, and love that she changed the people who cared for her profoundly and thereby changed the world. Koontz credits Trixie for giving him his innocence back, helping him rediscover his faith, and for helping him find the truths in his life that are eternal. My favorite line from the book is this: If we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the ordinary, we begin to see that all things are extraordinary. Little things can change the world and Trixie did her share. I encourage you to read this book to see how it makes this point delightfully clear.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    Endearing without any sappy. And an interesting memoir/dog-philosophical treatise by Koontz.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melodie

    Trixie the Golden Retriever was Dean and Gerda Koontz's dog/child. Adopted after her retirement from being a assistance dog, she turned their lives into more fulfilled lives. That's the book. No need for spoiler alerts, you have to know this is the way this book goes. Now Miss Trixie gets five stars from me. She was a stellar ambassador for her breed and for canines in general. Having been owned by several dog /children over the years, I can attest to the fact that my life would be so much less Trixie the Golden Retriever was Dean and Gerda Koontz's dog/child. Adopted after her retirement from being a assistance dog, she turned their lives into more fulfilled lives. That's the book. No need for spoiler alerts, you have to know this is the way this book goes. Now Miss Trixie gets five stars from me. She was a stellar ambassador for her breed and for canines in general. Having been owned by several dog /children over the years, I can attest to the fact that my life would be so much less than it currently is if not for my fur kids. And being involved in canine rescue for the past decade, I appreciate anyone who gives of their time and/or money to better the lives of dogs. Canine assistance programs in one form or another are worthy of all the time and attention they can get. Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors. I have enjoyed his books for years. So, I was more than a little disappointed to read page after page of his self indulgent prattle about all his homes and his life of privilege. I don't begrudge him his wealth. It is well earned. But to carry on about what his money buys ad nauseum is tacky, and does nothing to pay tribute to the beloved Trixie.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dustin Crazy little brown owl

    A Big Little Life ranks among my top 10 personal favorites by Dean Koontz. In this rare non-fiction work, Dean Koontz is very open, giving us a glimpse at how Trixie changed his and Gerda's lives. This work is filled with much to contemplate regarding the relationship between dogs & humans. As the recounting progresses there are several emotional recollections shared with the reader. The audio book is narrated by Dean Koontz. In each little life, we can see great truth and beauty, and in each lit A Big Little Life ranks among my top 10 personal favorites by Dean Koontz. In this rare non-fiction work, Dean Koontz is very open, giving us a glimpse at how Trixie changed his and Gerda's lives. This work is filled with much to contemplate regarding the relationship between dogs & humans. As the recounting progresses there are several emotional recollections shared with the reader. The audio book is narrated by Dean Koontz. In each little life, we can see great truth and beauty, and in each little life we glimpse the way of all things in the universe. If we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the ordinary, we begin to see that all things are extraordinary. If we allow ourselves to be humbled by what we do not and cannot know, in our humility we are exalted. If we allow ourselves to recognize the mystery and the wonder of existence, our fogged minds clear. Thinking clearly, we follow wonder to awe, and in a state of awe, we are as close to true wisdom as we will ever be. -Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life, Chapter One Other Favorite Quotes: Dogs swim through a sea of human speech, listening attentively for words they recognize, patiently striving to interpret what we say, although most of it is and always will be incomprehensible to them. No human being would have such patience. _______ Because we are imperfect beings who are self-blinded to the truth of the world's stunning complexity, we shave reality into paper-thin theories and ideologies that we can easily grasp, and we call them truths. But the truth of a sea, in all its immensity, cannot be embodied in one tide-washed pebble. _______ ....we are fictioneers, bleaching the rich narrative of reality into a pale story that we can better comprehend. We go wrong when we don't admit the unknowable complexity of reality, but we go dangerously wrong when we claim that one pale story - or an anthology of them - is truth. We arrive at the paleness to avoid consideration of the daunting truth in all its fierce color and infinite detail. _______ Language skills were my shield and my sword. _______ This dog, this individual, this furry person, this spirit was a wonder and a revelation. _______ For a dog, the world is an ever-expanding carnival of mysteries. Every new experience enchants, and every morning is full of promise. As children, we share this attitude, but we evict it when we become adults, as if the knowledge that comes with experience needs to occupy that particular chamber of the mind, as if wonder must make way for wisdom. But wisdom without wonder is not true wisdom at all, but only a set of practical skills married to tactical shrewdness of one degree or another. Wonder inspires curiosity, and curiosity keeps the mind from becoming sick with irrational ideologies and stultified with dogma. _______ They see the world through cloudy windows of theory and ideology, which obscure reality. _______ Seeing through to the truth under the illusions that have shaped you is important, but it can be dispiriting and can tie knots in your wonder. _______ At twilight on Christmas Eve, snow began to spiral down in silver-dollar flakes, and we went for a walk in an evening as magical as any in Narnia. _______ By the time we walked into the emergency room, the towel in which I had wrapped my right hand was so saturated with blood, you couldn't discern that it had once been white. Nevertheless, we were directed to the registration desk, where Gerda and I sat opposite a pleasant young woman who would either arrange for my treatment or would transfer me to the boatman who would pole me across the River Styx, depending on how long we needed to fill out all the paperwork. . . . . Glancing at my insurance card, the young woman said, "Oh, you have the same name as the writer." When I acknowledged that I shared not only the writer's name but his brain and his wardrobe, and noted that I was here with his wife, the receptionist was delighted to meet me. Her favorite book, she declared, was Watchers, though she also loved Intensity. As she filled out the forms, she repeatedly paused to ask me why none of the films based on my work resembled the books from which they were adapted (because they're all blithering idiots in Hollywood), why I write so many more women in lead roles in my books than do most male writers (because I've met so many interesting women and married a great one), would I ever write a sequel to Watchers (if you can't top the original story, it doesn't need a sequel), and what scares Dean Koontz (the possibility of bleeding to death). The towel wrapping my hand became so saturated that it dripped blood on the floor. _______ A burning hand! Those who have never read my novels often think, incorrectly, that I write horror stories. If you are one of those, you might expect that we discover burning body parts in our oven with some regularity. I assure you we do not. This was a new experience for me and so macabre that for an instant I half expected the burning hand to wave or give me the okay sign, or to make to make a rude gesture - but then I realized that it was not a hand after all. An oven mitt had been left in the Thermador the previous evening. _______ Were fur transplants to become available for human beings, I would be first in line, seeking a head-to-toe makeover, after which I would personally ensure the profitability of bakeries and ice cream shops throughout southern California. _______ Perhaps she'd heard the word four times each night at the restaurant, eight times altogether, yet after three month, Trixie responded instantly upon hearing it once more. After five years of French classes in high school and college, I can no longer speak a coherent sentence in their language. This seems to me to suggest that either French would be more profitably studied if one were rewarded daily with nachos for learning - or that with the proper incentives, dogs can learn French. In either case, Trixie's response to that delectable word puts the lie to some theories of dog intelligence and dog memory. It also suggests that dogs have a better grasp on the meaning of life than do a significant number of us. No, a plate of nachos is not the meaning of life. But finding joy in things as humble as a plate of nachos is an important step toward the discovery of meaning. Too many of us die without knowing transcendent joy, in part because we pursue one form or another of materialism. We seek meaning in possessions, in pursuit of cosmic justice for earthly grievances, in the acquisition of power over others. But one day Death reveals that life is wasted in these cold passions, because zealotry of any kind precludes love except of the thing that is idolized. On the other hand, dogs eat with gusto, play with exuberance, work happily when given the opportunity, surrender themselves to the wonder and the mystery of their world, and love extravagantly. Envy infects the human heart; if we envy, next we covet, and what we covet becomes the object of our all-consuming avarice. If we live without envy, with the humility and joyful gratitude of dogs - nachos! ball! cuddle time! - we will be ready even for Death when he comes for us, content that we have made good use of the gift of life. _______ Seeing through to the truth under the illusions that have shaped you is important, but it can be dispiriting and can tie knots in your wonder. _______ . . . I came to realize that the flight from innocence so characteristic of our time is a leap into absurdity and insanity. _______ If Gerda and I had decided to delay accepting a dog from CCI and later received another golden, instead of Trixie, or if we'd decided not ever to have a dog, I wonder who I would be, these eleven years later. Whatever Dean Koontz I would be, I would not be the Dean Koontz I am now. Considering the potentially momentous nature of even the smallest decisions we make, we ought to be terrified and humbled, we ought to be filled with gratitude for every grace we receive. _______ The serial killer next door is routinely described as a quiet, nice, ordinary guy by those who imagined that they knew him. What a leap it then is to insist that we can know absolutely how the mind of another species works. The great advantages of a mutual language and a shared culture fail us daily in our efforts to understand our own kind. ________ Intuition+common sense = dog wisdom. ________ Intuition is a higher form of knowledge than instinct. It is a direct perception of truth or fact, independent of any reasoning, knowledge neither derived from experience nor limited by it, such as that the whole is greater than a part, that two things each equal to a third thing are also equal to each other. Intuition also includes perceptions of space and spatial relationships, and an awareness of time. _______ My aspirating-vomit illustration would have made Dustin Hoffman weep with envy. _______ Yes, she was a dog, but not only a dog. I am a man, but not only a man. Sentiment is not sentimentality, common sense is not common ignorance, and intuition is not superstition. Living with a recognition of the spiritual dimension of the world not only ensures a happier life but also a more honest intellectual life than if we allow no room for wonder and refuse to acknowledge the mystery of existence. _______ This world is infinitely layered and mysterious. Every day of our lives, we see far more than we can comprehend, and because the failure to comprehend disquiets us, we lie to ourselves about what we see. We want a simple world, but we live in one that is magnificently complex. Rather than acknowledge the exquisite roundness of creation, we take it in thin slices, and we view each slice through tinted, distorting lenses that further diminish its beauty and obscure truths that await recognition. Complexity implies meaning, and we are afraid of meaning. _______ The mystery of life is the source of its wonder, and the wonder of life is what makes it so worth living.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ann Fisher

    It's hard to imagine that a slight book about a perfectly sweet and charming dog could be so wretched, but Dean Koontz manages to write one. I've got two main objections: 1. The author's ego. No one has ever worked so many hours in every day and every week for so many years. No one. He has to tell us that the hallway in his house is lined with all the editions of his books--more than 5000 total. He has to tell us, repeatedly, how generous he's been to the companion dog program he supports and yet It's hard to imagine that a slight book about a perfectly sweet and charming dog could be so wretched, but Dean Koontz manages to write one. I've got two main objections: 1. The author's ego. No one has ever worked so many hours in every day and every week for so many years. No one. He has to tell us that the hallway in his house is lined with all the editions of his books--more than 5000 total. He has to tell us, repeatedly, how generous he's been to the companion dog program he supports and yet how surprised and yes, humbled, he was when he put up all the money for a lodge and they surprised him by naming it after him. 2. The combative tone. This is someone who sees the world in absolute black and white, to the point where he'll make up a straw man just so he can decisively knock it down. The anti-poverty program he very briefly worked for (and by extension all anti-poverty programs) was corrupt and only made things worse for the poor. Government harasses widows and does nothing about dangerous dogs. Dogs are afraid of mountain lions, which proves that they understand death. Although unspecified people insist that dogs don't remember anything, why, behold, they remember people they've met much later. He even at one point describes people who don't really understand dogs as "liberal elites." The dog is lovely.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    I'm kind of a sucker for dog stories that rein in the sappiness a bit but still yank the heartstrings. I listened to Marley and Me on CD during a road trip but was frustrated most of the time with how irresponsible the humans were in the story, although I did cry pitifully in the car for miles while the last part unfolded. There is only one way that these stories end, and Dean Koontz really hits hard when it's his turn. Do not read the last two chapters in public, as if you have a heart, then yo I'm kind of a sucker for dog stories that rein in the sappiness a bit but still yank the heartstrings. I listened to Marley and Me on CD during a road trip but was frustrated most of the time with how irresponsible the humans were in the story, although I did cry pitifully in the car for miles while the last part unfolded. There is only one way that these stories end, and Dean Koontz really hits hard when it's his turn. Do not read the last two chapters in public, as if you have a heart, then you will full-on sob and get tears on your pages, and people will stare at you if you're not alone. Other than the inevitable catharsis of the end of the book, though, the story to get there is pretty good. Koontz presents himself as a humble and devoted parent of his first dog, and he draws the reader in for quiet moments with the family, as Trixie displays an intelligence and presence that make her far more interesting than any fictional character I ever read in a Koontz novel (back when I was a teenager and they interested me). This book is a beautiful eulogy for a remarkable dog, and it speaks more universally to why people (should) love dogs, and I want to buy a copy for just about everyone I know with a family that includes at least one canine member. On a side note, I tend to dislike celebrities when I read their autobiographies and make reference to their own fame - honestly, I was a Jimmy Buffett fan until I read A Pirate Looks at Fifty and saw that he had drunk his own kool-aid - but Koontz pulls it off well. From time to time, people in this book will tell him they like his writing, but only when it has an impact on Trixie's story. Koontz is not the focus here, he's writing about his girl, and he succeeds while remaining likeable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kayce

    I LOVED this book. Capital L-O-V-E-D! This is such a great memoir of an amazing Golden Retriever named Trixie! I have never read a Dean Koontz book before, mainly because he writes a genre that is not my cup of tea, but he is a laugh out loud author. There were SEVERAL parts of this book that I laughed to myself and read the story with a smile. I took my time with this book because I wanted to enjoy Trixie's life through her memory. She was indeed a VERY special dog. I cried too. :( I had fallen I LOVED this book. Capital L-O-V-E-D! This is such a great memoir of an amazing Golden Retriever named Trixie! I have never read a Dean Koontz book before, mainly because he writes a genre that is not my cup of tea, but he is a laugh out loud author. There were SEVERAL parts of this book that I laughed to myself and read the story with a smile. I took my time with this book because I wanted to enjoy Trixie's life through her memory. She was indeed a VERY special dog. I cried too. :( I had fallen in love with Trixie early on with this book and it was hard to read about the end of her life. It brought back memories of dogs from my past that it was devastating to lose. It's a heartbreak like no other. But one day when we are reunited in Heaven, it will be the most wonderful feeling in the world to see all those dogs rushing towards me, happy and healthy and to spend an eternity together. I can't wait to meet Trixie up there, too. I highly recommend this book to any pet owner. Grab a blanket, curl up by the fireplace, and get to know a really special dog named Trixie. Kudos to Dean and his wife, Gerda, for giving this dog a blissful life and for honoring her memory both in the writing of this story as well as the other efforts they do for Canine Companions for Independence.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mariah of the Night Court

    This beautifully written book helped me cope with the loss of my beloved golden retriever. It was a memoir that was so full of love, just like my dog.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Last week, on Monday, I went searching for some new books to read. This in itself was not unusual, but the distance between my usual secondhand store and the others in my town are a few blocks, and I rarely venture into them. I walked into the Salvation Army, and picked up two animal books- saving cinnamon, and the dog that saved my life, as well as a few other fiction novels. I left the store with the feeling that I'd missed something however, and returned a few days later to find this beautifu Last week, on Monday, I went searching for some new books to read. This in itself was not unusual, but the distance between my usual secondhand store and the others in my town are a few blocks, and I rarely venture into them. I walked into the Salvation Army, and picked up two animal books- saving cinnamon, and the dog that saved my life, as well as a few other fiction novels. I left the store with the feeling that I'd missed something however, and returned a few days later to find this beautiful book hidden behind two others. Let me say, this is more than the usual animal book- this is truly emotive, beautiful, intense and thought provoking. I read a lot of books, but this one had me in tears. So close does Dean describe the feelings he holds for Trixie that are the same I hold towards my own three pets! That he never had children, and instead had Trixie, who offered him in her short time just as much love and joy. Only once have I ever had the knowledge of a pet's passing before the event occurred, and this occurred after I had left home and the dog remained at my parents, before he passed on. Never had I had that grief, with most of my pets simply wandering away, never to be seen, or dying on roads and hastily buried by my parents. Now, living as an adult with my own responsibilities, I know one day that grief will be my own as my cats live indoors, and it may be that I am the one hastily concealing their passing. I highly recommend this book to all animal lovers, and even and especially if, you have never picked up a Dean Koontz book before, pick up this one. A sad, but truly great, book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Dean Koontz is such a wonderful storyteller. The dog story is beautiful and Dean freely shares his feelings which is a new side of him for me. I loved this book. There is a spirituality to this book that reminds me of C.S. Lewis. If you want to laugh, cry or just ponder the universe, this is a great book. A few later...add on. Koontz is very much like one of those parents who shows every new picture, of which there are many, every time you meet. His child/dog is also the most brilliant in the clas Dean Koontz is such a wonderful storyteller. The dog story is beautiful and Dean freely shares his feelings which is a new side of him for me. I loved this book. There is a spirituality to this book that reminds me of C.S. Lewis. If you want to laugh, cry or just ponder the universe, this is a great book. A few later...add on. Koontz is very much like one of those parents who shows every new picture, of which there are many, every time you meet. His child/dog is also the most brilliant in the class and way above his age group in every skill. :-) I say this with love for him and I enjoyed this book very much as i did the first time which is a lot!

  20. 4 out of 5

    ❀Julie

    A touching memoir that I especially appreciated having two golden retrievers of my own, but any pet lover could appreciate it.  I could see my own dogs in the author’s dog, Trixie, but in different ways, including her angelic behaviors and her special ability to communicate.  Although the ending was sad, I loved how he concluded it so beautifully with his insightful words on how another life can impact us.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The first Dean Koontz book, or I guess I should say Trixie Koontz book that I have read was I Trixie Who Are Dog. I bought it for a special little girl and everyone in the family loved it. I didn't even realize who the author was until after I got home and read it to her. I had read it in the store and laughed so hard people were looking at me like I was crazy. Later I read the authors name and decided I had to have more. That's when I discovered this book. If all his books are as good as this on The first Dean Koontz book, or I guess I should say Trixie Koontz book that I have read was I Trixie Who Are Dog. I bought it for a special little girl and everyone in the family loved it. I didn't even realize who the author was until after I got home and read it to her. I had read it in the store and laughed so hard people were looking at me like I was crazy. Later I read the authors name and decided I had to have more. That's when I discovered this book. If all his books are as good as this one then he has a new follower. I love how he tells the story of Trixie. Dogs are very special, very intelligent and very loving. Some people have a nasty tendency to teach dogs to be mean. The dogs are the ones to suffer in these circumstances when it should be the humans. Other people get a dog, put a chain around it's neck, chain it outside to a tree or fence, maybe with a doghouse close by but maybe not. Dean Koontz does a lot of exploring into the meaning of life and what is important. Maybe I enjoyed the book so much because I agree with almost everything he said. I laughed a lot while reading this book. I also cried a lot. I, too have been blessed with a Golden Retriever, Jessie. She passed away July 4, 2008. I am so glad I read this book. It's a great book. I have a new favorite author to add to my list and a whole shelf full of his books waiting for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Firstly, I am a Dean Koontz fan. I am frequently frustrated by his wordiness. His tendency to exaggerate to make his point. My eyes generally get a great workout from rolling frequently. In spite of this, I love his books dearly. All of them. Something I learned from this book was that all of my very favorite of his novels were written post-Trixie. Silly maybe, but this instantly made me love her. Yes, its sappy. Yes, it is most definately a love letter to his dog. Koontz is a writer. He writes. Firstly, I am a Dean Koontz fan. I am frequently frustrated by his wordiness. His tendency to exaggerate to make his point. My eyes generally get a great workout from rolling frequently. In spite of this, I love his books dearly. All of them. Something I learned from this book was that all of my very favorite of his novels were written post-Trixie. Silly maybe, but this instantly made me love her. Yes, its sappy. Yes, it is most definately a love letter to his dog. Koontz is a writer. He writes. He sells millions of books. In my opinion he has every right in the world to gush for as many pages as he wishes about whatever is important to him. He absoultely could publish his weekly grocery list and I'm sure no one would be entirely surprised when it sold a million copies. His success has come from consistently amazing writing and years of hard work. He deserves it. I actually listened to the audio version of this novel, and I'm glad I did. Read by the author, it was believable. I think I might've cringed at every over-exaggeration (there were many) but I found myself mostly smiling (dare I say laughing?)...and then, inevitably, crying like a little girl. When will I learn to stop with the dog stories?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I was very pleasently surprised with this book. It made me laugh out loud many times and of course I cried at the end. This is of course a memoir of a dog, so I don't think that's a To be honest I'm not much of an animal person. I have nothing against them, I just find that I don't have the time to properly care for one, so I don't think about them often. This book made me sure that I do not have the ability to care for an animal. I have neither the time or desire. But I wish I did. Before readi I was very pleasently surprised with this book. It made me laugh out loud many times and of course I cried at the end. This is of course a memoir of a dog, so I don't think that's a To be honest I'm not much of an animal person. I have nothing against them, I just find that I don't have the time to properly care for one, so I don't think about them often. This book made me sure that I do not have the ability to care for an animal. I have neither the time or desire. But I wish I did. Before reading this book it was my opinon that a dog is a dog is a dog. Smelly, needy, poopy dogs. I once had a dog. I loved him. but he was poopy, needy and smelly. Koontz's book reminded me if how much I loved my dog, and how much I miss him. He too was a speical dog and helped me through some rough times. While I won't be getting a dog soon if ever again, I thank Trixie for letting me remember all the good times I had with my doggie. This was a nice book about a man, and his very speical dog. I was surprised by the amount of laughs, tears and deep thoughts of doggie Tao DK brought up. Lovely book and I recomend to animal lovers, and owners of speical animals, and really aren't they all?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    I seem to be drawn to stories about dogs. You know going in if you're reading a story about a dog, chances are pretty good that there is going to be a sad ending. Some of these books become terribly maudlin and you wonder why you wasted your time ("Rescuing Sprite" by Mark Levin is a good case in point), but then you come across a brilliant gem like this story of Dean Koontz dog, Trixie, and you understand why you keep reading them. In his book, "Darkest Evening of the Year" (which I haven't read I seem to be drawn to stories about dogs. You know going in if you're reading a story about a dog, chances are pretty good that there is going to be a sad ending. Some of these books become terribly maudlin and you wonder why you wasted your time ("Rescuing Sprite" by Mark Levin is a good case in point), but then you come across a brilliant gem like this story of Dean Koontz dog, Trixie, and you understand why you keep reading them. In his book, "Darkest Evening of the Year" (which I haven't read, but which is quoted in this book), Koontz sums up the the of the book beautifully. "Dogs' lives are too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and for the mistakes we make because of those illusions." The fact that I sat up until 2 a.m. finishing this book tells you how much I loved it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robin Hatcher

    We lost a special dog eight months before I read A Big Little Life. There were so many moments during this book when I thought of our precious Poppet. She too was a joyful dog, and she changed our lives. Dean Koontz's memoir of Trixie made me both laugh and cry. But mostly it made me thankful for the years we had with a very special, joyful dog.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    Lovely Little Book I really liked this little book. It is not one of those tearjerkers that makes life a dog seem super real. It’s real life! I just got through a series of difficult books or even bad stories. This one lifted my spirit

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Lewis

    This book was passed along to me by my sister-in-law, so I felt I had to read it. As a long time fan of Dean Koontz, it was fun to read a book that helped me feel like I know him a little (he's a quirky guy - kind of OCD, it seems to me). This is not a typical Dean Koontz book, obviously, but instead, a typical memoir-of-a-dog book. Of course the dog dies at the end and you bawl your eyes out. And of course you laugh out loud in parts, because dogs do hilarious things and good writers describe t This book was passed along to me by my sister-in-law, so I felt I had to read it. As a long time fan of Dean Koontz, it was fun to read a book that helped me feel like I know him a little (he's a quirky guy - kind of OCD, it seems to me). This is not a typical Dean Koontz book, obviously, but instead, a typical memoir-of-a-dog book. Of course the dog dies at the end and you bawl your eyes out. And of course you laugh out loud in parts, because dogs do hilarious things and good writers describe them well. Where this book is a little different from other dog memoirs is in Koontz's evaluation of how Trixie changed his life. For a person who is open to this viewpoint, dogs can be amazing role models of spirituality and humanity. To live life in the kind of relationship with the world and the people in it that dogs do, is to live a truly spiritual life. Koontz makes a convincing argument that this is not an accident, and that sharing a life with Trixie was a hugely meaningful experience and opportunity for his growth as a human being. I can definitely buy that - Sam, and Lucy, and Jake have all been variations on Trixie for me and I am also a better person for having had dogs in my life.

  28. 4 out of 5

    kari

    For any dog lover, this is a great book. If you aren't a dog lover(shame on you)the writing is fun and witty and it's a great tale of love and growth and the meaning of life. Now, really, you're saying, the meaning of life? Yes, that's exactly what I said. A life well-lived and well-loved. Dean Koontz tells this story with self-deprecating humor and a sense of spirituality and enduring joy in the memories of this remarkable dog. Well, she's s golden retriver so remarkable is their usual, but Trixie For any dog lover, this is a great book. If you aren't a dog lover(shame on you)the writing is fun and witty and it's a great tale of love and growth and the meaning of life. Now, really, you're saying, the meaning of life? Yes, that's exactly what I said. A life well-lived and well-loved. Dean Koontz tells this story with self-deprecating humor and a sense of spirituality and enduring joy in the memories of this remarkable dog. Well, she's s golden retriver so remarkable is their usual, but Trixie really was beyond the normal remarkable golden, she was a gem. There are glimpses into Koontz's childhood and personal life so you get a sense of what the relationship with his wonderful dog really brought to his life. May you be lucky enough to someday be loved by such a dog.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    This short book describes some items I did not expect - Dean's growth in life & help from Gorda (wife) to begin writing. Then the importance, life style & love of Trixie to them. Her entry is later in Dean's life than I expected. Their loss of Trixie is fulfilled with finding the great niece of Trixie....Anna http://www.deankoontz.com/book/life-i... "Other inspiration" section in this link, shows Dean's love with dogs, his dedication & support of the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), https: This short book describes some items I did not expect - Dean's growth in life & help from Gorda (wife) to begin writing. Then the importance, life style & love of Trixie to them. Her entry is later in Dean's life than I expected. Their loss of Trixie is fulfilled with finding the great niece of Trixie....Anna http://www.deankoontz.com/book/life-i... "Other inspiration" section in this link, shows Dean's love with dogs, his dedication & support of the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Koontz

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dusty Burgmans

    This is really a story of the private life of Dean & Gerda Koontz before and after getting Trixie, the release dog from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Very very funny, insightful about their lives, private as they are, and the amazing character of the dog. As a volunteer for CCI, I am one of the puppy raisers he speaks of in his book and proud to be a part of this this fabulous organization he so generously supports. I real MUST READ for any dog lover!!! Dean Koonts really is a brilli This is really a story of the private life of Dean & Gerda Koontz before and after getting Trixie, the release dog from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Very very funny, insightful about their lives, private as they are, and the amazing character of the dog. As a volunteer for CCI, I am one of the puppy raisers he speaks of in his book and proud to be a part of this this fabulous organization he so generously supports. I real MUST READ for any dog lover!!! Dean Koonts really is a brilliant writer with a FABULOUS sense of humor!!

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