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Lauren's Story: An American Dog in Paris
by Kay Pfaltz
Almost all animal lovers would agree that one of the most important lessons animals teach is unconditional love. Lauren’s Story is about the kind of unquestioning love that exists between humans and their animal friends. Far from anthropomorphizing animals, Lauren’s Story admires and respects them, even suggesting that we humans be more like them: accepting, forgiving, nonjudgmental, living in the present moment and enjoying life to its fullest, even in the small, quiet moments.
Lauren, a little stray beagle named for Lauren Bacall, is found unconscious and nearly dead from starvation. She spends three weeks in intensive care at the vets then is given back to Amy, the girl who found her. Amy gives her to her sister, Kay who is living in Paris, and from there a love story begins. Lauren learns to love the French capital, and who wouldn’t? She dines out in some of Paris’ best restaurants beside Kay as Kay reviews the food. But moments of joy in life are ephemeral, for Lauren is plagued with illnesses from aspirated pneumonia to laryngeal paralysis. Kay and Lauren return to Virginia. Then in late September Lauren is diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma, one of the most difficult cancers to treat, and the vets tell Kay Lauren will never make it to Christmas. Kay must decide whether to put her to sleep or to attempt treatment. Lauren undergoes radiation and chemotherapy. She makes it to Christmas and to the New Year. She makes it to see the spring return, and with the spring, comes the promise of hope.
Lauren’s Story is much more than just a rags to riches dog story. It’s a testimony to the power of laughter and love to get us through life, and ultimately the power of art as one of the most enduring forces in life. For Francophile’s or for anyone who has ever loved a dog, Lauren’s Story is a must.
Praise for Lauren's Story:
Chantal Westerman, Good Morning America and Wisdom Channel
If you have a dog you love; if you ever wanted a dog; if you sometimes feel yourself thinking, ‘Maybe I should get a dog,’ read this book! It is tender, funny, unforgettable and impossible to put down. In today’s sometimes dark world, Lauren’s Story is a much needed and brilliant ray of light.
Rita M. Reynolds, La Joie
Kay’s deep love for Lauren includes the necessary ingredients of joy and humor. There are moments throughout the book, especially toward the end when Lauren begins to fall ill, that you, the reader, will hold your breath for too long until the crisis is resolved. And, equally, there are moments of such hilarity, that you will stop breathing simply because you are laughing so hard. Lauren’s Story literally has it all: heartbreak, despair, courage, joy and always, love.
Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul
“Dog lovers, animal lovers, Paris lovers, travelers, and everyone who appreciates great literary talent will love this book. Lauren’s Story is a gift from Kay Pfaltz’s heart to all her readers. In this book, I found the best description I’ve ever read of that special bond between a dog and the person she or he loves. I felt I was right [in Paris] with Kay and Lauren, so great is her talent in conveying the sights and sounds as well as her own so human and honest responses to this magical city. Funny, sad, intriguing, suspenseful—I couldn’t put the book down.”
Sally Rosenthal, Best Friends Magazine
Don’t be fooled by the subtitle; this book is more than a canine travelogue. Much more. While the author does pay homage to her adopted city of many years, the true object of her affection is Lauren, an infinitely lovable, chronically ill beagle. In this wonderful tale, Pfaltz chronicles her life with Lauren on both sides of the Atlantic, making no bones about the depth of their relationship. Lauren’s Story is my favorite sort of animal book—one that details a loving bond that enriches the readerís life almost as much as the lives of the dog and person involved.
Elizabeth Kiem, The Hook
It’s easy to fall in love with Paris. It’s easy to fall in love with a dog. Less common than either unconditional love for a dog or a former stray that dines elegantly al fresco is the kind of devotion that drove Pfaltz from an idyllic lifestyle as a Left bank restaurant critic to a Motel 6 in the beltway hell of Springfield [Virginia].
Pfaltz is wrestling with the heavyweights: life, death, and humanity. Pfaltz’s love for Paris is almost as strong as her feelings for her dog, but it’s enriched with an irony unavailable for Lauren. “The motocrots were motorcycles with long vacuum tubes that sucked up each dog’s crot. Ah Paris.”
Sally D. Ketchum, Foreword, Reviews of Good Books Independently Published
Lauren, a young, starving beagle, matures into a cosmopolitan dog that takes on Paris from its cafés and cinemas to its gardens and salons. She is also the center of a small group of well-defined, fully individuated characters.[…] The descriptive passages are so detailed and evocative of scene, that at times it seems as if the Parisian setting becomes a character itself. Readers who love art, music, literature, history and obviously animals will enjoy vicariously traveling with Pfaltz and Lauren. Their excursions are full of historic places and notable people, engaging and stimulating to readers.
Unconditional love is the recurring theme of this book, whether it is between narrator and dog or, more broadly, dog and humanity.[…] Reflective passages are well integrated into episodes of romance, travel, and health crises, further, they are inspirational and pertinent to the theme. Though poignant, the book is not sad, but heartening.
Rita Mae Brown, bestselling mystery writer, screenwriter
World traveler. Bon vivant. If this is going to the dogs, count me in.
Susan H. Linden, Bark, the modern dog culture magazine
Kay Pfaltz’s account of the years spent with her Beagle Lauren will enchant anyone whose life has been changed by a special dog. Pfaltz sets out to write about “the meaning of unconditional love,” and her story is at once a reflection on this topic and a personal memoir. Lauren’s Story recounts the relationship of a woman and her dog, but it is also an essay on happiness, both human and canine.[…] Lauren’s Story is a tribute to life, and an invitation to cherish every moment of it.
Jeffrey Masson, author of Dogs Don’t Lie About Love
A beautiful, sensitive book, filled with canine love. This book shows that when it comes to love, dogs may be our superior.
The Virginia Quarterly Review
This is a charming tale of requited love. Lauren and Kay discovered each other after being introduced by Kay’s sister and their love story began. They shared an apartment in Paris, dined together at the city’s best restaurants, played in the Luxembourg Gardens, traveled through France and matured together. When Lauren falls ill to cancer, Kay realizes that “Lauren has taught me more than any creature on earth, for she’s taught me how to love.” Creature? Yes. Lauren is a beagle.
James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review
An engaging and heartwarming story of adventure, trust, caring, and hope. Lauren’s Story is highly recommended reading, especially for dog lovers everywhere.
Margaret Flather, M.D.
It’s not often that a book can get us to laugh out loud and shed a few tears. […] I couldn’t put it down.
Amelia Kinkade, author of Straight From the Horse’s Mouth: How to Talk to Animals and Get Answers and The Language of Miracles
Many, many books about relationships with animals come across my desk, but Lauren’s Story: An American Dog in Paris is without contest my all-time favorite book about a love-affair with a nonhuman being. Lauren’s Story is the most heart-stopping beautiful, seamlessly written, cheerful, inspiring, mesmerizing, wise and funny book I’ve ever read about what animals can teach us about life, love, courage, peace, passion, and devotion. And Lauren’s legacy is proof that many of our most effective therapists, nurses, spiritual teachers, work-out coaches, dinner-dates, clowns, and angels have four legs instead of two! Read it and fall in love!