Book Review – The Dog Thief: And Other Stories by Jill Kearney

It is often difficult to describe the intricate relationships between animals and their humans. In her book, “The Dog Thief: And Other Stories,” Jill Kearney has no such problem, delivering a poignant collection of short stories that strike a chord, leaving traces that likely won’t fade when you’re done reading.

Inspired by her own experiences working as a dog sitter and rescuer, Kearney weaves the narratives of people forgotten or displaced by society and the animals that place their trust in them. In her own words, she “I’m interested in the lives of people who feel like nobody cares about them.” This statement really resonates throughout the book.

The collection begins with the homonymous novel, the dog thief, in which the neighbors of a downtrodden community come together to rescue a pair of dogs from their negligent owner. Donald, the owner of the dogs, actually inherits the dogs upon the death of his mother and later, his sister. Donald is lazy and neglectful of the dogs, but one gets the impression that he feels obligated to care for them. However, his protection of the dogs outweighs any consideration he has for their well-being, casting doubt on his mental capacity, at least for this reader. The author also weaves fascinating subplots into the story as we follow Donald’s neighbors in their efforts to help. Dealing with the injustices and confines of their environment, Elizabeth, Blacksnake, The One-Eyed Woman and others provide intriguing insights into the complex issues they face while learning firsthand how seemingly insignificant acts can make a difference in the world. .

The short stories that follow the novel are just as captivating, each one striking a chord within him, causing the need to stop and contemplate before moving on to the next. I was so drawn to some of the characters and the ways I could sense what they were feeling and going through, that I actually read several of the stories twice.

Kearney’s writing is passionate, simple and direct. Disregarding the need to place the reader in a sugarcoated narrative, his voice and a certain frank nature of his tell it like it is, with a wit and freshness as charming and endearing as it is unsettling and unsettling. Seriously, there’s no way to avoid getting emotional about these stories. Some of the most insignificant surroundings, places I could never have imagined, became clear and distinct in my mind through the vivid and rich descriptions presented by the author.

Heartbreak, helplessness, hope, and inspiration: these words only hint at the range of sensations readers will feel on these pages. “The Dog Thief: And Other Stories” by Jill Kearney is a book I highly recommend. Pet and human advocates will have a hard time putting this book down, as Kearney provides an insightful look at what really matters.