The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Here If You Need Me, by Kate Braestrup

In this beautiful memoir, Kate Braestrup tells the story of her transformation from happily married mother of four to widowed chaplain for the Maine Game Warden Service. At first, it seems rather odd that Braestrup is following the career path that her policeman-husband had envisioned for himself. But it soon becomes clear that the two of them thought alike, and that becoming a Unitarian minister is as right for her as it might have been for her husband. Indeed, as she describes her ministry to search-and-rescue workers and the families of those who are literally lost, I have a hard time imagining her doing anything else.

 

Braestrup finds the humor in her family’s situation, and the children each become real to us, as do her colleagues in the Warden Service. I had some trepidation about reading this book since I have no religious affiliation, but it quickly became clear that Braestrup is simply a good, compassionate, and caring person who operates in the loose structure of the Unitarians. Her mission is often to simply “be there” for parents of lost children or colleagues who may be unsettled by the exigencies of their work.

 

There are lots of animals in this book. Grace and Tiki are search dogs, touching in their dogginess and their diligence. We learn that bears like to play with the skulls of dead humans, and horses are useful in searching the woods because they provide their riders with a good vantage point. There are enough sad moments that I will declare this book MOSTLY SAFE for animal lovers instead of entirely safe. Most of the sad moments are fleeting, however.

 

I do want to address what Braestrup says about deer hunting. In her explanation, she defends those who hunt for food, comparing it favorably to the process of turning cows into hamburger. The deer have good lives up to the point of being shot, she notes, and their food is organic. Most beef cattle in this country don’t meet those standards, and I have to agree with her. Having seen my grandmother kill and dress chickens and turkeys that we later ate, I’ve known since early childhood that meat is messy. And there are other arguments in favor of deer hunting, including overpopulation that in turn affects the balance of forest vegetation. Where I get stuck on hunting is the notion of killing something for sport or recreation. I can’t get past it. I don’t think people should enjoy killing anything, regardless of species.

 

Anyway, I thought Here If You Need Me was a lovely, thought-provoking book, and I recommend it.

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December 27, 2008 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Indeed, as she describes her ministry to search-and- rescue workers and the families of those who are literally lost, I have a hard time imagining her doing anything else. Braestrup finds the humor in her family’s situation, …[Continue Reading] […]

    Pingback by - Are You Riled Up? - » Blog Archive » Does the Dog Die? a Brief Review of Here if You Need Me, By Kate … | December 29, 2008 | Reply


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