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Extended Audio Sample A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life Audiobook, by Steven Kotler Click for printable size audiobook cover
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 Foley Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781400189878
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Steven Kotler was forty years old, single, and facing an existential crisis when he met Lila, a woman devoted to animal rescue. "Love me, love my dogs" was her rule, and Steven took it to heart. Spurred to move by a housing crisis in Los Angeles, Steven, Lila, and their eight dogs—then ten, then twenty, and then they lost count—bought a postage-stamp-size farm in Chimayo, New Mexico. A Small Furry Prayer chronicles their adventures at Rancho de Chihuahua, the sanctuary they created for their special needs pack.

While dog rescue is one of the largest underground movements in America, it is also one of the least understood. An insider look at the "cult and culture" of dog rescue, A Small Furry Prayer weaves personal experience, cultural investigation, and scientific inquiry into a fast-paced, fun-filled narrative that explores 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 humans' long history with dogs through brand-new research into the neuroscience of canine companionship, in the end discovering why living in a world made of dog may be the best way to uncover the truth about what it really means to be human. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • Brimming with humor, gratitude, and grace, this is a remarkable story. Publishers Weekly Starred Review
  • “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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie | 1/15/2014

    " Sometimes it got a bit too heavy on philosophy and there was a lot of reflecting on philosopher's but in the end it was all worth it and it made sense. I enjoyed reading with my small furry prayer beside me. I admire animal rescue and I admire Steven Kotler for putting it all out there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Burhoe | 12/25/2013

    " First person account of a couple who became dog rescuers. Down-to-earth and honest. Kotler throws in some new ideas -- such as, did humankind first adopt the prehistoric wolf -- or did those early wolfdogs adopt us? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen Galvin | 12/18/2013

    " Quirky, endearing, thought-provoking... I enjoyed the author's sense of humor and his ability to introduce topics of discussion that I never imagined to find in a "dog book." A favorite, for sure. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 4/14/2013

    " I laughed, I cried, I laughed so hard I cried. What a beautiful, thoughtful, wonderful book. I highly recommend to anyone who happily shares their life with dogs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janette | 3/17/2013

    " Don't even think about reading this without a box of tissue handy "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 2/27/2013

    " I guess I thought this book would be more about the couple and their experiences with their rescue dogs. Instead it was a book filled with history/the ways and whys of our brains and animal behavior. It was somewhat interesting but I am more interested in experiences than the reasons why. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melodie | 4/25/2012

    " I won a copy of this book here on GR, and though it wasn't what I expected, it was a really good book. Funny how a dog can worm its way into the heart of someone who isn't a "dog person". Recommended! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monica | 3/8/2012

    " So much more than I anticipated! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tanya | 2/18/2012

    " I found the book wordy and full of psychology. While I enjoyed the parts about the author 's tales of his dogs I found myself skipping large parts of the book when he digresses away from the dogs' antics and delves into past philosophers works and ideas. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 9/9/2011

    " This was an interesting read. A memoir of sorts about rescuing dogs in an area that isn't too fond of dogs interspersed with information about research about the inner workings of the minds of dogs and other animals. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 6/6/2011

    " Goes lightyears beyond the heartwarmingly hilarious stories of life with 20 special-needs dogs for in-depth discussion of the relationship between man and dog - philosophically, psychologically and biologically. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 JP | 5/7/2011

    " A little bit too journalistic in terms of style but a great read, touching, funny, sad and ultimately a very interesting and inspirational tale supported by fascinating research. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 3/1/2011

    " About half way through. Interesting book. Fascinating background information about psychology; dogs; relationships; evolution; many concepts presented with scientific background to support the ideas. Coupled with personal experiences and funny commentary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gretchen | 2/18/2011

    " This book is a mix of philosophy, history, psychology, mysticism and, oh yeah, about a guy who gives up his fast L.A. lifestyle to follow the girl he loves to the middle of the desert to rescue special needs dogs. Dog lovers will shed more than a tear and learn more than a few factoids. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amber | 1/9/2011

    " Really fascinating, actually. Not as mushy as the title might lead you to believe. There is the normal day to day sheltering stuff as well as some history, biology, and philosophy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristen | 11/8/2010

    " Although I enjoyed this book, it was different from what I expected. There was A LOT of psychology. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurel | 11/1/2010

    " I very much enjoyed the reasearch he included. the connection between humans and animals, specifically dogs, is fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurel | 10/27/2010

    " Although I think of myself as a cat person, I really enjoyed this book! It was a delightful read, and anyone who loves animals will find this a great book, exploring dog-human relationships, animal bonds and animal rescue. "

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About the Author

Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and cofounder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project. His books include the nonfiction works The Rise of Superman, Abundance, A Small Furry PrayerWest of Jesus, and the novel The Angle Quickest for Flight. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. His articles have appeared in over sixty publications, including the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, Wired, GQ, Outside, Popular Science, Men’s Journal, and Discover. He lives in New Mexico with his wife, the author Joy Nicholson.

About the Narrator

Kevin Foley has more than thirty years of experience in radio and television broadcasting, commercial voice-overs, and audiobook narration. He has recorded more than 150 audiobooks, including Storm Rising by Gary Naiman, The Last Witness by Joel Goldman, and River Thunder by Gary McCarthy, for which he earned a Spur Award for Best Audiobook from the Western Writers of America. He has also won an Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine for his narration of Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky.