A Love Story
By Martin Kihn
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780307379153, 224pp.)
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
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(A true story.)
Meet Hola. She’s a nightmare, but it’s not her fault if she tackles strangers and chews on furniture, or if she runs after buses and fried chicken containers and drug dealers. No one ever told her not to. Worse yet, she scares her family. Hola may be the most beautiful Bernese mountain dog in the world, but she’s never been trained. At least not by anyone who knew what he was doing.
Hola’s supposed master, Marty, is a high-functioning alcoholic. A TV writer turned management consultant, Marty’s in debt and out of shape; he’s about to lose his job, and one day he emerges from a haze of peach-flavored vodka to find he’s on the verge of losing his wife, Gloria, too, if he can’t get his life—and his dog—under control.
Desperately trying to save his marriage, Marty throws himself headlong into the world of competitive dog training. Unfortunately, he knows even less than Hola, the only dog ever to be expelled from her puppy preschool twice. Somehow, together, they need to get through the American Kennel Club’s rigorous Canine Good Citizen test. Of course, Hola first needs to learn how to sit.
It won’t be easy. It certainly won’t be pretty. But maybe, just maybe, there will be cheesecake.
Martin Kihn is an Emmy Award–nominated former writer for MTV’s Pop-Up Video and the author of House of Lies and A$$hole. He has worked at Spy, Forbes, and New York, and his articles have appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Details, and Cosmopolitan. He lives in Minneapolis.
"Martin Kihn is just too talented—I still don’t know how a writer can be that laugh-out-loud funny while chronicling a major life crisis—and his story is just too good to miss. (And of course the soulful pictures of Hola, his lovely Bernese mountain dog, don’t hurt either.)"
—Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
"It’s the special relationship between man and animal that form the heart of the memoir. . . Any dog lover is bound to tear up over the love and trust that can exist between a person and their dog, which Kihn captures perfectly with a blend of earnest emotional catharsis and wry humor."
—Katie Stroh, The Daily Texan
"Not a cozy Marley and Me duplicate or Cesar Millan–type training book (though readers will learn a lot about the value of appropriate training from someone who’s been there), this sharply written, darkly funny memoir–cum–dog story–cum–recovery tale is a quick, absorbing read that will serve a wide audience well."
—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Starred Review)
"This wry memoir of the human-dog bond is one that eschews the usual treacly sentimentality in favor of a raw, deeply sincere, and self-aware homage to this powerful bond."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
"Hola, surprise, surprise, grows enormous, while also growing out of control, ignoring commands, sprawling, immovable, across the bed. Add to this rowdy mix the fact that Kihn drinks way too much and that his wife, Gloria, is on the verge of leaving him, and you have a recipe for a surefire heartbreaking bestseller along the lines of Marley and Me."
—Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“This tale of a man who forgot he was a man and the dog who ultimately reminded him is the most touching, original buddy story I’ve come across in ages. Sit. Stay. Read.”
—Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air
“A modern masterpiece that captures the dark side of K9 love.”
—Julia Szabo, Dogster.com
“Martin Kihn’s agile wit is showcased in this memoir of addiction, recovery, and the highs and lows of canine and human behavior. Despite its compact form, Bad Dog carries a surprising amount of weight, and when you're not looking, it will knock you over and charm you, all while licking your face.”
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
“A bittersweet tale of renewal . . . An endearing read full of hope, humor and humility.”