Author Joey Camen refers to his shelter dog, a Sheltie/American Eskimo mix who shared his life for 13 1/2 years, as his best friend, and that’s evident in the love that emanates from every page of My Life with Snoopy – How One Shelter Dog’s Love Changed a Man’s Life and Other Tales of Adventure. At the end of the Acknowledgements for the book, he says “This is for you, my boy. I love you.”
Camen is a stand-up comedian and voice actor by profession and there are actually some light and humorous moments in his tale of the years he spent with Snoopy. But there are also heartbreakingly sad and sweet moments, too, and this is a tribute to Camen’s versatility as a writer.
He grew up in a rough neighborhood, raised by parents who were not good examples of animal lovers. When he was 10, his uncle gave him a chocolate Lab he named Snoopy. He took excellent care of the dog he loved, yet his parents mysteriously removed the dog from the house, saying he didn’t take care of it. Subsequent dogs were quickly banished, too. It was a wound that lasted a long time and to protect his heart, he chose not to get closely attached to another dog.
Yet many years later, after moving to Hollywood and beginning his career, he met animal-loving friends. Eventually the need to have another dog in his life grew strong and he adopted a beautiful pup he also named Snoopy, in honor of his boyhood canine friend.
The next 13+ years of their lives together form the bulk of the book and it’s a true love story. My Life with Snoopy is a series of anecdotes regarding meeting other dogs, interacting with cats, incorporating a dog into a love relationship, and finally and most tragically, saying goodbye all too soon to your best friend. Anyone with a heart, and especially one who’s loved and lost an animal, will find the book irresistible.
It’s sweet, funny, and – be forewarned – have tissues handy towards the end because you will re-live your dog’s passing or euthanization. But it’s a somehow cleansing cry, and you’ll be in love with the spirit of handsome Snoopy and develop great admiration for his “father” Joey by book’s end, so tender and obviously caring the reading experience is.