Book review: ‘Loving Edie’

Cover of the book, 'Loving Edie'
A couple carrying emotional baggage from traumatic childhoods adopt a puppy with issues of her own and learn that love must be unconditional.
By Sally Rosenthal

Loving Edie: How the World’s Most Anxious Dog Taught Me to Be Brave, by Meredith May. Park Row, 2022. Hardcover, 262 pages, $24.99.

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When journalist and beekeeper Meredith May and her police officer wife, Jenn, adopted a golden retriever, they didn’t know what lay ahead for all three of them. A confirmed dog lover, May had been longing to add a golden retriever to their household, but Jenn, not a dog person, was not as keen until the author wore her down with tales of the joys of sharing one’s life with a canine. Enter Edie, a puppy with anxieties and fears who soon shaped their daily lives and routines.

In Loving Edie, May writes of the ways Edie’s issues insinuated their way into the couple’s lives until they became tied to their home. Edie’s fears went beyond separation anxiety and loud noises. Literally anything could send her scurrying into a corner or cause her to be unable to walk down the block.

[Building Confidence in Dogs]

Finally, with medication, supportive veterinarians and training, Edie marginally improved; however, improvement wasn’t May’s goal for Edie. Coming from a childhood dominated by her mentally ill mother’s neglect, May had, as is common, turned into a perfectionist and fixer. Edie was a puzzle that May threw herself into solving while Jenn, herself a survivor of a toxic upbringing, grew more and more disenchanted with a life so curtailed.

Deciding to move from a city to a rural mountain home, the couple found the quiet lifestyle they had wanted to embrace upon retirement. Relocating a few years earlier than anticipated, they hoped life far from the city would cure Edie. However, as Edie chose her own path to a happy, but still anxious life, May slowly realized that Edie was simply Edie, a dog who played by her own rules.

What started as a quest to “fix” their dog ended with May and Jenn learning that unconditional love was the ultimate acceptance for themselves and for Edie. The result is a book filled with heart and hard-won wisdom.

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