Click here to read reviewer Wendy Runyon's take on Dreaming in Libro: How A Good Dog Tamed A Bad Woman.
Louise Berkinow is a pet lover. Or, at least, a boxer lover – or, at the very least, a boxer-named-Libro lover. This is the second book she's written about her marriage-in-all-but-certificate relationship with Libro, an abused brindle boxer she found in the back of a police car.
In this book, which takes us through the slow decline and death of Libro with many amusing and inspiring stops along the way, we find ourselves in a book about a book, which to this reviewer's mind can sometimes feel a trifle contrived. While it is funny that Libro stood up whenever his name was spoken as Berkinow read his story at book signings, it's also rather annoying to know that we're reading warmed over material based on the previous book.
That reservation aside, and for those who haven't met Libro yet, this is a pleasant, almost-believable story of independent woman meeting independent dog, and the tacit agreement between them to share home and heart space.
Libro is probably an average dog, meaning he's a lot smarter than he looks and possibly not quite as brilliant as his mistress makes him out to be. Libro learns to sit to command no matter what language it’s said in, proving him not a linguist but certainly an unusually obedient creature of habit. On a long-anticipated trip to the beach, where Berkinow is sure Libro will enjoy the freedom of a few days to run wild and free, he begs for a leash and won't go out without it, and, as it turns out, has no love of water. Libro, unlike most pets, loves going to the doctor, possibly because, as Berkinow speculates, "he knew he would find help and care there." Libro was getting acupuncture, no less! - for his aching hips and legs. Or perhaps it was because of the treats liberally proffered by the staff.
Pet and especially dog lovers will see themselves in the solicitations of Berkinow and the canine responses, sometimes eerily human, of the devoted Libro. Libro comes into Berkinow's life at a time when "most of my wilder adventures were starting to be filed in the 'been there, done that' category. So I was, though I hardly knew so at the time, ready for him." Libro, for his part, is quite content to be spoiled and feted, and when a book about him emerged from the relationship, to act the role of "media hound."
This book is subtitled "How a Good Dog Tamed a Bad Woman." The stresses between the needs of a human and a dog soon smooth out as the writer sees how the canine's quietness and non-verbal communication form a counterpoint to the verbiage she is always bent on producing. Their relationship deepens when both battle cancer, and Berkinow begins to see Libro as a kind of angelic force. Many pet-owners feel that way. And will identify with this homey, familiar and mildly edgy book of praise to our best friend. As the author puts it, "a woman needs a dog like a fish needs the ocean."