Dog Years: A Memoir Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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In Dog Years, poet Mark Doty walks his readers through the lives of his two dogs, Arden and Beau”from their wild romps in the beaches to their mournful death. This memoir is a personal meditation on loyalty and friendship and a gripping account on death and loss. Doty is a known American elegist, best known for stirring memoirs Heavens Coast and Firebird (Chapman, par. 3). The award-winning poet and novelist is famous for writing pieces based on personal experiences and turning them into a sensitive and melodramatic narratives. Heavens Coast is a memoir on the life and death of his partner Wally Roberts from AIDS.

Firebird is a novel about growing up gay and artistic in a troubled Southern family. Dog Years starts with Wallys struggles in fighting the disease. Dotys partner can barely get out of bed when he decided to adopt the golden retriever Beau, in addition to their long-time canine company, Arden. Dotys speechless friends gave companionship and comfort to the dying Wally and consolation and relief to the bereaved Doty. In the authors words, Beau and Arden are his secret heroes in vitality (par. 4). Doty made a detailed account of his fun-filled moments with his two dogs.

He described the pleasure in their faces at the sight of dog food and squeaky toys as well as the ecstasy they all feel when they walk past the neighborhood or take a swim on the beaches in Provincetown (Memmott, par. 7). Doty also takes his readers to the painful visits to veterinarians as the dogs health deteriorates. He wrote of the dogs courage in the face of daily injections as they struggle to fight illnesses brought about by old age. In one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the book, Doty recounted how he had to carry one of the dogs as its legs gave out during one of their walks.

The author then comes into a slow realization that in their own time, his two canine friends would be ready to die (par. 8). Two-thirds into the book, Doty also described the worst moment of his life. He recalled how he attempted to jump off the Staten Island Ferry and take Beau with him who was seriously battling a fatal disease (Chapman, par. 8). Soon the two dogs died, first Beau and after a slow, painful decline, Arden. The last few pages were dedicated to meditations on death and loss.

With Dotys use of simple language and visual details, the readers are taken into an arresting and touching story of love and friendship. Dotys breathless aesthetics in describing his moments with his dogs coupled with a painful account of his emotional struggles following their death gives the book an authentic feel. Dotys clear and honest recounting of the simple joys takes the readers to the authors place of emotions. Through narrating his experiences, whether pleasurable or painful, Doty successfully made a reverent meditation into the dogs capacity for nobility and sensitivity (par. ).

The dogs simple ways, as vividly described in the book, takes us back from our disrupted world to our primitive selves. On a scale of 1-10, with ten as the highest, the memoir is an eight. It is highly-recommendable not only to dog lovers but to people who want a grasp into the real world. It is an honest, personal tale of friendship and loyalty. The book provides a meditation into the tragedy of death and loss. But more than that, it is a story of moving on and courage, of love and hope.

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