There are dog owners…and there are obsessive dog owners. Dog owners are the
people who own a dog, take care of it, feed it, remember (most of the time) to take it
outside when it needs to go outside, and treat it like a pet. Obsessive dog
owners are people who own a dog, treat it like a child, feed it only the best food (which
they’ve carefully researched), dress it in fancy outfits, and repeatedly cancel plans
with friends because their dog will miss them too much.
Jenny Lee doesn’t
have a problem admitting that she’s an obsessive dog owner. In What Wendell
Wants, she goes into full detail about her obsession with her Soft Coated Wheaten
Terrier. She shares everything from the moment she talks her husband into getting a
puppy (the old bait-and-switch technique—leading him to think she wanted a baby, then
happily settling for a puppy) to Wendell’s first swimming lesson to his first Halloween
to his various illnesses (and non-illnesses). Through the course of the book, she
worries about his reputation, his self-esteem, his IQ, and his hairstyle. And she even
gets his portrait painted by a real artist (sadly, I’m not even kidding). It’s a good
thing that poor Wendell isn’t, say, a part of a soccer team—or competing for admittance
into Cambridge’s most elite doggy pre-school. Because I’d hate to be the doggy mom to
get in Jenny Lee’s way.
You don’t have to own a dog to appreciate this
look into the life of an openly obsessive dog owner. I don’t own a dog. In fact, I
never have (and I probably never will, since my husband is allergic). But I know my
share of obsessive dog owners, and that was all it took to keep me laughing out loud in
public places while reading this book. Then I’d nudge my husband and read passages to
him, too (often introducing them with “Who does this remind you of?” or “Does this sound
familiar?”), and we’d both snicker.
If you own a dog, you’ll be amused by
What Wendell Wants. If your dog owns you, you might be a little embarrassed by
this book—since it’ll take your obsessive behavior and wave it around in plain view—but
you’ll like it anyway. And if you don’t actually own a dog but know a few people who do
(especially if you’ve ever had plans cancelled on you due to a depressed pooch), you’ll
find this book absolutely hilarious.