A Man and His Dog: A Love Story

There is a special bond between a boy and his dog, or in this case, a man and his dog.  For girls, it is horses.

Martin Kihn is a successful writer living in New York City with his wife, Gloria.  He should be happy, but he is miserable.  What is his problem?  He is an alcoholic.  His professional life is collapsing.  Gloria has had all she can endure and is about to leave him.  Physically and emotionally he keeps himself going with regular transfusions of vodka.

Salvation comes for Kihn in the “person” of a purebred Bernese mountain dog named Hola.  Purchased as a puppy, Hola has no inclination of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.  As Hola grows into a rather large and very active bundle of fur, he becomes increasingly attached to Martin.  Hola is a man’s dog.

Hola’s apparent jealousy of Gloria leads to escalating aggressive behavior towards Gloria.  This development, together with Gloria’s growing conviction that her husband cannot overcome his alcoholism, leads to her departure.

With his life in ruins, Martin turns to Alcoholics Anonymous.  The AA alone will not save him.  Like anyone who is trying to escape an addiction, Martin needs a goal, something he can commit to.  That goal becomes training Hola.  If he can train Hola, perhaps he can win back Gloria, too.

Kihn commits himself to helping Hola win the Canine Good Citizen’s award from the American Kennel Association.  In order to win the coveted CGC, Hola must pass a rigorous ten-point examination.  Kihn is not sure Hola can pass the test, just as he has doubts about his own goal.  The two struggles, Kihn’s and Hola’s, become intimately entwined.  Hola’s winning the CGC becomes Kihn’s hope for success in his own struggle with alcoholism.

Bad Dog (A Love Story) is Martin Kihn’s account of how he helps Hola to achieve the CGC, and how Hola helps him to achieve sobriety.  It is a story of struggle, perseverance, and yes, a love story.

Until next time, be good to all God’s creation, and always live under the mercy.

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