Puppy Chow Is Better Than Prozac is a true testament to why dogs are man's best friend. This is the tale of bipolar and semi-suicidal Bruce and how a tiny little black lab named Ozzy became not only his best friend, but his guardian angel.
Bruce, a twenty-something ad exec in Manhattan, battled horrible personal demons that completely crippled him, preventing him from living a normal lifestyle. Bipolar and suffering from Crohn's and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (generally triggered by particularly bad bouts of manic depression), Bruce often spent large amounts of time inside his apartment, terrified of the outside world.
Bruce preferred writing out his feelings in his journal to taking anti-depression medications, and he generally lashed out at his therapists and found them more harmful than helpful. Sick of the toll lithium and other prescriptions were taking on his body, sick of hearing voices that taunted him to kill himself, he made a decision that most people would probably question by going out and getting a puppy. He couldn't even take care of himself, but now he was responsible for the care of another living thing.
The beginning of this relationship is pretty much what the reader would expect, considering Bruce's circumstances. The transformation between Bruce pre-dog and post-dog, however, is astonishing to read. Ozzy forced him to go outside. Ozzy forced him to talk to people. Slowly but surely, Ozzy gave him his life back and forced him to face the world outside his apartment. This is no ordinary relationship between a man and his dog. A black lab puppy was capable of doing what therapists and prescription drug cocktails could not do: heal Bruce.
The major weakness of this book, for me anyway, is that it is so poorly written. Goldstein has a very stream-of-consciousness, manic writing style, which very much fits into the mental illness narrative but is also very jarring. However, Goldstein is unflinchingly honest and real, tapping into a deep, dark pain that most people never personally experience. This book offers insight into the terrors of mental illness but also has the tender and humorous moments that many dog lovers can relate to.