Classic suspense and intricate plots are the usual domain of mega-best-selling writer Dean Koontz—a touching story about a beloved dog, not so much. But Koontz’s boundless love for his golden retriever Trixie shines through his latest book, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog. Koontz had always been good at capturing the canine spirit in print, and he did in-person research on guide dogs for one of his books at Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that trains assistance dogs. Koontz and his wife Gerda had spent nearly every moment of 24 years together, childless workaholics who thought they were too busy for a dog. But CCI kept asking if they were ready to adopt one of their course “failures.” Enter Trixie, the force that would change Koontz’s middle age forever.
It’s not every pooch that has the opportunity to rub its Kong toy on a pricey oil painting, or get a dish of Swedish meatballs at a favorite restaurant. Trixie’s down-to-earth joy and antics are the cheerful squeaky toy at the center of this moving story. Part sitcom, part prose portrait, spiritual quest and eulogy, A Big Little Life is a page-turner in its own right—even if every dog lover knows how the plot must play out. “Most of us will never be able to live with as much joy as a dog brings to every moment of his day,” Koontz writes. “But if we recognize that we share a tao, we then see that the dog lives more closely at that core than we do, and the way to achieving greater joy becomes clear. . . . Dogs know.” And so will readers and dog lovers everywhere who bask in the reflected glow of Koontz’s unwavering love for Trixie.