Saturday, November 24, 2012

What is Jessica Pierce reading?

This weekend's featured contributor at Writers Read: Jessica Pierce, author of The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives.

Her entry begins:
I was exposed to some of the most marvelous literary works long before I was actually capable of reading them for myself. Every night, from before I can remember to long past when I was too old, my father would read to me as I went to sleep. We read childhood classics like James and the Giant Peach, all the Little House on the Prairie books, and all the Wizard of Oz books. We worked our way into more advanced material: Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Oliver Twist. And we journeyed through The Iliad and The Odyssey. You might think that Homeric poetry would bore a child to tears, but you would be wrong (at least in my case): I was utterly enthralled by the wild adventures of Odysseus and his men.

Although there is something very powerful about hearing Homer’s epic poem, and about participating in some small way in the oral tradition, I set about reading the story (for the third or fourth time) a month or two ago. I had several motivations. First of all, my dog Ody (short for, and named in honor of, Odysseus) died recently, and I felt that reading the poem would be one way to honor his life. Like the human Odysseus, my Ody’s life was full of hardship and misadventure. The other motivation for revisiting The Odyssey is that...[read on]
About The Last Walk, from the publisher:
From the moment when we first open our homes—and our hearts—to a new pet, we know that one day we will have to watch this beloved animal age and die. The pain of that eventual separation is the cruel corollary to the love we share with them, and most of us deal with it by simply ignoring its inevitability.

With The Last Walk, Jessica Pierce makes a forceful case that our pets, and the love we bear them, deserve better. Drawing on the moving story of the last year of the life of her own treasured dog, Ody, she presents an in-depth exploration of the practical, medical, and moral issues that trouble pet owners confronted with the decline and death of their companion animals. Pierce combines heart-wrenching personal stories, interviews, and scientific research to consider a wide range of questions about animal aging, end-of-life care, and death. She tackles such vexing questions as whether animals are aware of death, whether they're feeling pain, and if and when euthanasia is appropriate. Given what we know and can learn, how should we best honor the lives of our pets, both while they live and after they have left us?

The product of a lifetime of loving pets, studying philosophy, and collaborating with scientists at the forefront of the study of animal behavior and cognition, The Last Walk asks—and answers—the toughest questions pet owners face. The result is informative, moving, and consoling in equal parts; no pet lover should miss it.
Learn more about The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives at Jessica Pierce's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Jessica Pierce and Maya.

Writers Read: Jessica Pierce.

--Marshal Zeringue