Julie Klam was thirty, single, and working as a part-time clerk at an insurance company, unable to meet a man she could spend her life with. Then it happened. She had a dream about a Boston terrier – a dream that practically hit her over the head that the companion she needed was not necessarily the one she’d had in mind. You Had Me at Woof is the story of one woman’s discovery of all she really needed to learn about life through lessons from her relationships with her canine companions. Klam shares how her love for dogs and the lessons she’s learned caring for them has shaped her life, made her a better wife, a better mother, and has totally and utterly opened her heart. This is a funny, earnest, and emotionally compelling look at the surprises, pleasures and revelations that happen when you let any mutt, beagle, terrier, or bulldog go charging through your world.
(Synopsis of novel from book cover)
You Had Me at Woof was originally recommended to me by both of my parents who had read this novel and they had both thoroughly enjoyed it. Considering that Jule Klam had rescued her first dog, Otto, I was instantly intrigued especially since my dog, Pugsley, is also a rescue. I know the draw that seeing these lost souls for the first time can have on a person. Even though Klam has been involved with a Boston terrier rescue and all of my rescues have been of pugs, I still understand the draw and the loyalty you have to a breed. In both of our cases, it’s with dogs that certainly come with interesting sets of looks and a person must have a certain type of affinity to be willing to live with such faces. Having also worked at a couple different animal shelters, I know what it’s like to find love at first sight when you least expect it.
While I was extremely open and willing to read Klam’s book, I was slightly miffed as to why so little of the novel was dedicated to Otto. I figured that Otto would have a much larger part in the book, especially because he was her first love and the dog that taught her so many things as mentioned in the synopsis. I wish that I as the reader would have been introduced to Otto more than I was. Instead, Klam’s time with Otto seemed almost glossed over. To me, it just seemed like the amount of writing spent on Otto didn’t do their relationship justice. I do know that it must be difficult to try to put into words the bond and the love that is shared between a person and their dog, but I still wish that there was more. I was left feeling unfulfilled when it came to Otto’s story.
The rest of You Had Me at Woof seemed a little disjointed. It seemed as though Klam bounced around from dog to dog and topic to topic. It seemed as though not enough time was spent on some events that happened surrounding the dogs, and then there were others that seemed as though there was too much detail provided. I was never really able to find a flow to her writing even though I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and tried to envision her walking three dogs down the street in New York. I also felt instead of enjoying all of her experiences, Klam was at times so stressed out by her situations that her writing about these moments still came across as stressed, tense and chaotic.
While I did enjoy some of the stories that Klam relayed, as I mentioned before there was just something about her writing style that left me wanting more. I think part of it was that my expectations had been raised so high by all of the praise from my parents that it would have been difficult for Klam to meet these expectations.