In this moving memoir, Danielle Steel tells the story of how she met a dog the size of a mouse with a personality that could light up an entire room. From Minnie’s arrival at home in San Francisco to clothes-shopping jaunts in Paris, her adventures provide the perfect backdrop for a heartfelt look at the magic that dogs bring to our lives, and how they become part of the family, making indelible memories.
We meet Steel’s childhood pug, James; and Elmer, the basset hound who was steadfastly at her side in her struggling days as a young writer; Sweet Pea—unveiled in a Tiffany box for a dog-loving husband—and all those lucky dogs who shared a household of nine children, other canines, and one potbellied pig. As she reflects on the beloved pets who have brought joy, and sometimes chaos, to her home through the years, Steel also shares her thoughts on the trials and tribulations of bringing a new dog into a household, the challenges of housebreaking and compatibility, the losses we feel forever.
Filled with colorful characters (human and otherwise), delightful photographs, practical wisdom drawn from long experience, and brimming with warmth and insight on every page, Pure Joy is a love letter to this special relationship—and one of the most charming books yet from the incomparable Danielle Steel.
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The Dogs We Love
Minnie and Me
There have always been somewhat comedic aspects to my life, although sometimes I don’t see it that way. A family of nine children, eleven dogs at one time, and a Vietnamese potbellied pig was bound to create some unusual situations, which even I found funny at the time. Someone once sug-gested a weekly TV series loosely based on our family, and we declined. Us? Funny? Of course not! Well . . . maybe a little. But it’s only now, when thinking about these situations in- volving our dogs, that I realize how ridiculous some of them were.Most of the children have grown up, the dogs we have now are divided between their homes and mine (I often babysit for my “grand dogs”), and we’re down to more normal numbers. But it was only when a tiny eight- week- old, barely one- pound, long- haired white “teacup” Chihuahua snagged my heart that I was inspired to write about her and share some of the other dog stories in my life. And just looking at her, you know she’s a star. Her name is Minnie Mouse, and her favorite pose is lying in one of her pink beds, with her tiny paws crossed, looking at me with big brown eyes.
I never thought I’d fall in love with such a tiny dog. When one of my daughters got a Chihuahua in her early teens, I objected strenuously to having such a small dog. I thought people would step on her, something terrible would happen,
she would be too fragile, I insisted that you can’t have a dog that size. I discovered that despite her size, Chiquita, our first
Chihuahua, was sturdy, had a big personality, and we only just lost her at sixteen. She was full of fun, healthy, and lively
right to the end. She came to visit me regularly in San Francisco, after she and my daughter moved to Hollywood. Chiquita
was a star!
But I still never thought the breed was for me. Whatever we decide we don’t want in life (whether it’s dating, houses, neighborhoods, jobs, partners, or dogs), the fates usually intervene to open our eyes and prove us wrong. So on a cold November
day, at a pet store in New York, thinking myself hardened, sophisticated (and opinionated), I fell in love.
Two years later, the love affair is still going strong. The object of my affections is my now two- pound Chihuahua, Minnie Mouse, who is the most adorable, lovable dog I’ve had yet. And the breed is even better than I thought. And she’s taught me more about owning a dog than all the breeds that came before her. There’s a reason why you see so many Chihuahuas on the street now (and cozily tucked away in apartments)— they are smart, fun, easy to take care of, and endearing in many ways. She warms my heart and makes me laugh.
While I turned down the weekly series about our family, all those years ago, I want to share with you all our slightly crazy and funny family dog stories, and tell you about Minnie and me and the practical things I’ve learned over the years about owning dogs. As for Minnie, it is absolutely absurd that anything so small should own my heart, but she does. It just goes to show, never say never, or the next thing you know, you’ll be doing what you said you never would, owning a dog you swore you didn’t want and walking (or carrying) a tiny, totally enchanting little dog on a rhinestone- studded pink leash. You too could fall head over heels for a teacup Chihuahua, because owning a puppy, or a dog you love, is pure joy . . . that’s what Minnie is for me!!!
Excerpted from Pure Joy by Danielle Steel. Copyright © 2013 by Danielle Steel. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.