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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (473 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steven Kotler Narrator: Kevin Fole Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Steven Kotler was forty years old and facing an existential crisis—which made him not too different from just about every other middle-aged guy in Los Angeles. Then he met Joy, a woman devoted to the cause of canine rescue. “Love me, love my dogs,” was her rule, and not having any better ideas, Steven took it to heart. Together with their pack of eight dogs—then fifteen dogs, then twenty-five dogs, then, well, they lost count—Steven and Joy bought a tiny farm in a tiny town in rural New Mexico and started the Rancho de Chihuahua, a sanctuary for dogs with special needs.

While dog rescue is one of the largest underground movements in America, it is also one of the least understood. This insider look at the cult and culture of dog rescue begins with Kotler’s personal experience working with an ever-peculiar pack of dogs and becomes a much deeper investigation into exactly what it means to devote one’s life to the furry and the four-legged. Along the way, Kotler combs through every aspect of canine-human relations, from humanity’s long history with dogs through brand new research into the neuroscience of canine companionship, in the end discovering why living in a world of dogs may be the best way to uncover the truth about what it really means to be human.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Joyous…Brimming with humor, gratitude, and grace, this is a remarkable story.”

    Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • “As he recounts their life in Chimayo (the pack at times approaches fifty, all entertainingly delineated), Kotler seamlessly blends a history of Chimayo, a well-articulated understanding of how humans and dogs coevolved, and background on animal welfare efforts in this country with his witty, sharp-edged, and rewarding reflections on life. Kotler defiantly proclaims his love of Chihuahuas (he’s hilarious), then shatters our hearts and ends by laying down a real ethical challenge. Highly recommended not only for dog lovers but for readers of memoir, biology, and anthropology and seekers generally.”

    Library Journal, starred review

  • “Part Hunter Thompson, part Carlos Castaneda, but mostly so original that it’s difficult to peg…This is a delightful, rich read sure to take you to unexpected places and beyond.”

    Bark, Editor’s Lit Pick

  • “With nods to psychological and ethological research, Kotler describes his surprising sojourn to a houseful of mangy pups and the power of animal bonds, positing that our canine connections tell us about human nature…Kotler’s talepart obsession, part inquiry, part adventureserves up a well-rounded meal of soul-searching and psychology.”

    Psychology Today

  • “Part memoir and part philosophical study of the dog-human relationship…Reflecting on the writings of mystics, philosophers, and animal scientists as varied as St. Francis, René Descartes, Claude Levi-Strauss, and Elizabeth Hess, Kotler elevates this tale about saving dogs to a story about human stewardship of life.”


  • “Kotler offers a touching account of Chihuahua adventures alongside interesting blurbs on the history of pet ownership, canine ethology, the semantics of the dog-adoption process, homosexuality in nature and the intricate science behind canine domestication. A heartfelt example of humanitarianism at work.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “I read this compelling book for hours and found myself completely hooked as I am sure any reader who loves dogs will be. Steven Kotler captures something essential about dogs and humans in a way I have not seen anyone else do. With a hip, growling intensity, Small Furry Prayer is bound to inspire.”

    Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of Dogs Never Lie about Love

  • “Thousands of books have been written about dogs, thus it’s amazing and also very encouraging to find a book like this one, filled with original thought and plenty of new information. And if that’s not enough, it’s a great read, a real page turner. I strongly recommend it to anyone who has a dog, or has more than one dog, or who just likes to read a great book.”

    Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Marlane | 2/2/2014

    " This book is surprisingly not over sentimental, and follows a writer into the world of dog rescue, where he talks about his personal experience and also the scientific and spiritual experience he has with dogs, and that arguably all human beings have with dogs, from their conception! Very interesting! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Carey Sturgeon | 2/1/2014

    " Amazing book! If you can get through it without crying, then you have no soul. Everyone should read this book!!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Laura Grace | 1/28/2014

    " An unexpectedly extraordinary book. I read this when it first came out and find I'm still thinking about insights it offers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Diana | 1/18/2014

    " I admit it, I'm a sucker for dog/cat/bird/monkey books. I especially enjoyed this book - one, because the subjects were the hardest-luck adoption cases (pit bulls, dobermans, inbred and diseased and hopeless) but the author showed his love for them; and two, because the author examined topics of behavior (both dog and human) in much more depth than most of these books. "

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