The Dog Thief and Other Stories


Fiction - Literary
208 Pages
Reviewed on 01/12/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Dog Thief and Other Stories is a collection of literary fiction stories written by Jill Kearney. Kearney writes about people living in impoverished and remote parts of Washington State, and the animals who form, in many cases, their reason for living and their connection with the rest of the world. She has been involved in animal rescue as well as worked as an in-home care provider, both of which gave her insights and anecdotes that fuel her stories. In The Dog Thief, Donald was the last surviving member of his family. His mother had been an unpleasant and vicious woman who alienated everyone who had the misfortune to meet her. Her two children, Donald and his sister, were dragged along behind her as they grew from terrified toddlers to reclusive teens grown soft from lives spent indoors. Blacksnake, their neighbor, had wholeheartedly despised the old witch. The daughter, who had actually attempted to be neighborly and took good care of her dogs, was a different story, but her passing meant those dogs were at the mercy of Donald, whose care of his own dogs left something sorely wanting. Elizabeth, another neighbor, had taken a not terribly welcome interest in helping Blacksnake care for his collection of cats. She heard the story of the sister’s dogs and decided it was something she had to look into.

Jill Kearney’s collection of short literary fiction stories, The Dog Thief and Other Stories, is a beautifully written and enthralling look at relationships between dogs and their human companions that survive even the harshest of economic conditions. Some of these stories are a bit dark and apt to be a bit on the depressing side, but I especially appreciated the way the author creates her tales, peopling them with characters who are unforgettable and dogs who seem to shine even in the darkest of situations. My favorite tale in the collection would have to be the title story. Kearney’s characters feel so real and the interactions between Blacksnake, Elizabeth, the animal control officer and the rescue worker are intricately and elegantly woven. Dogs do often seem to suffer from contact with humans, and Kearney’s collection highlights the need for low-cost neuter/spay, especially in economically disadvantaged areas. Her dog rescuers? They’re heavenly, and the animals all seem to know it. The Dog Thief and Other Stories is highly recommended.

Lit Amri

The Dog Thief and Other Stories by Jill Kearney is a collection of short, humbling tales about the relationship between humans and animals either living on the fringes of society, struggling with some kind of hardship or simply decrepit, boldly taking readers into uncomfortable situations and places. The multidimensional characters are people that you know exist out there. Along with them are the domesticated animals, trapped in the same dire situations, until fate intervenes with some interesting consequences. The collection starts with The Dog Thief, where rescue attempts for several dogs from their inept owner seem hopeless until two of the characters make bold decisions. The second story is Sparrows, about two siblings-an ill, drug addicted woman and her crippled younger brother- who welcome a stray dog into their hard lives when they found it in their garage.

The twelve stories in the collection are narrated with sharp prose and concerned with the many themes of life such as love, death, friendship, regret, and fear. Some of them are not entirely focused on tragedy, but are nostalgic moments instead in stories such as Arnie’s Last Ride, and Beverley and Jim, in which the characters are elderly people. With the swift-moving story lines, Kearney’s collection offers informative insight from her experiences as an in-home care provider and a dog rescuer. For any readers who have seen or been through the same situations, the tales in The Dog Thief and Other Stories will definitely strike many chords. They are thematically poignant, highly engaging and thought-provoking; a commendable work from Kearney.

Gisela Dixon

The Dog Thief and Other Stories by Jill Kearney is a book of short stories that depict the relationships and connections between people and animals. The Dog Thief and Other Stories contains 12 short stories, each one involving two predominant themes for the most part. One of them is a rural community or at times even poor living, and the other one is the connection between humans and animals. Although a lot of the stories involve dogs, the book is certainly not restricted to dogs, and is applicable to all animals in general. The stories try to highlight the importance of connections in people’s lives, whether they are human or animal, and how it is relationships that make life meaningful in any way.

I enjoyed reading The Dog Thief and Other Stories and the book is just the right length for a collection of short stories. The writing is humorous at times, and at other times sober. The background and underlying landscape depict rural areas and country or farm life, away from cities and fast-paced modern technologies. The stories show that elderly people or people who are experiencing great difficulty in life can find solace in animals and their pure emotions. In a world that pays little attention to animals as feeling creatures, and where animal cruelty is rampant, large-scale slaughter houses being just one example of this, hopefully a book like The Dog Thief and Other Stories will generate compassion in people for animals. This is a great book that I would highly recommend!