- Category: Books
Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs
by Fred Kray
I have a lot of "dog" books on my shelves. But the one that stands out in my mind is Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two. It is a raw, emotional, no holds barred look by Knapp at her relationship with her dog Lucille. No other book I have ever read delves so deeply and honestly into questions we ask ourselves about our relationship with our dogs. Knapp's writing about Lucille is beautiful and articulate. You'll wish you wrote it yourself. It is a brutally honest account, warts and all. Are we so wrapped up in our dog's life that we can't form attachments with people? Is it healthy to rely so heavily on a dog's presence? The book implicates some of the sentiments found in Jon Katz's book The New Work of Dogs.
It is a brave work. Certainly I could not put the honesty and emotion she puts on paper without immense self doubt. Her writing style is poetic at times, and at others it is clinically analytical:
"Before you get a dog, you can't imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can't imagine living any other way. Life without my dog? Unfathomable, to contemplate how quiet and still my home would be, and how much laughter there'd be, and how much less tenderness, and how unachored I'd feel without her presence, the simple constancy of it."
Of course, the context of the story is important too. Knapp had just published a best selling book entitled Drinking: A Love Story. At 36 she found herself alone, parents dead, and sober for the first time in 20 years. The introduction of Lucille brings a new chapter to her life, and she documents it in Pack of Two. Caroline Knapp has unfortunately since passed on. Her friend Gail Caldwell has written a memoir of her friendship with Ms. Knapp entitled Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship. It's a beautiful tribute to Caroline, and also a good read.
I highly recommend this book. It is a book I will never forget, and have read more than once, which is rare for me.