It's become fashionable to write dog biographies, and what dog could be more fashionable than Madison Avenue Maxi, a sleek little dachshund who manages to travel wherever her globe-trotting celebrity owners go? Maxi was a therapy dog (for Ben Gazzara, her "daddy," when he was battling cancer), model (for Elke Gazzara, her haute couture model mother, when she developed a line of doggie boutique items), museum visitor (she dared to go where no dog had ever
before gone), and greeter to a lot of people that ordinary humans would give their left paw to hang out with: Roman Polanski, Jon Voight, Michael Bloomberg, and, of course, Elke and Ben themselves.
Ben did not think he was a dog person when his daughter left
wiener dog Max with him for a few days. But the daughter moved, and the dog became a permanent and
indispensable part of Ben and Elke's lives. The first thing Ben did after feeding the dog some pasta was to rename her - Maxi, he felt, was a more feminine appellation.
Because of Ben's acting career, the couple traveled far and often, and they immediately realized they couldn't bear to leave Maxi. Because of Maxi, they were once "forced" to stay in an elegant villa instead of the crowded hotel where the rest of the cast and film crew were putting up. Other times, though, Maxi was allowed to stay in the exclusive hotels where the pair were booked, making herself welcome with staff and guests. She became, as Elke said, "a frequent flyer." She flew ensconced in a large handbag and slept at Ben and Elke's feet, sharing their meals and never making a sound except occasional snores in competition with Ben (as Elke puts it, "no doubt she was Ben's daughter").
When Ben was in the throes of radiation therapy, Maxi barked frantically to
let his wife know that he had fallen to the floor, too weak to move. Transferred
to the hospital, Ben was at death's door but seemed to perk up whenever he was
allowed to see his dog-child. Elke was also "saved" emotionally by having a cheerful dog companion to keep her from dark despair.
If you are a Ben Gazzara fan (I alway liked his ragged toughness and big liquid eyes) or a dog lover, and most especially a small dog lover, and even more especially, a dachshund lover, this book will pull at your heartstrings. It's not going to win a prize for great writing, but it's harmless, pleasant and diverting - angel food for the recreational reader's palate. And right in style.