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Kirkus Review for Destination Dachshund

Kirkus Review for Destination Dachshund

I was so pleased to receive a positive book review for Destination Dachshund from one of the most prestigious brands in publishing – Kirkus Reviews. Servicing the book industry since the 1930’s, Kirkus Reviews ‘stands for integrity, honesty and accessible reviews written with an insider’s eye’ and the Kirkus Indie program gives self-publishers like me the chance to earn honest critical review.

STS_DD Ebook In between light and dark V5.2_mini_mini“A likable author makes for a likable, dog-centric travel book.” – Kirkus Review

“Fleetwood’s resulting chronicle of a multigenerational family trip—88 days, 15 countries, and 60 dachshund spottings—has an invitingly chatty tone that makes one feel like one is traveling with her.” – Kirkus Review

“…Fleetwood can be a sensitive observer and she has an admirable fascination with and respect for history.” – Kirkus Review

I am pretty happy with the review (read full review below). To have received a positive review from such a respected player in the book industry means a lot to me. If the only slightly negative thing they can say is that we walked past a memorial to fallen Jews and then spotted a dachshund is a jarring juxtaposition then I’m ok with that – that’s what happened and that is life. We were feeling sad at the memorial but then a dachshund scampered by – what are we to do except delight in that? Life is a series of juxtapositions like that.

Full Review:
In her debut memoir, Australia-based blogger Fleetwood shares the highs and lows of an extended family trip from Sydney to New York City. The transition from blog to book is trickier than many writers realize, but for the most part, Fleetwood has the knack. In 2010, right before Fleetwood and her family took off from Sydney, one of their dachshunds, Coco, died unexpectedly; the remaining dog, Charlie, she says, “won’t leave our side or our laps…his howls break our hearts.”

In honor of Coco, the family invents a trip-long game of dachshund sightings. Fleetwood’s resulting chronicle of a multigenerational family trip—86 days, 15 countries, and 60 dachshund spottings—has an invitingly chatty tone that makes one feel like one is traveling with her.

The family goes to Singapore; Istanbul; Moscow; Budapest, Hungary; Nuremberg, Germany; Paris; and Dublin (with numerous stops in between), before finally reaching New York in time for Christmas. There, they discover that “People are all going in different directions and are pushy, loud and rough.” But Fleetwood is otherwise delighted by almost everything else she encounters, be it a dinner cruise on Europe’s Danube River or a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France (Christmas markets are her admitted addiction).

She’s also as adept at noting what it’s like to travel with family as she is at describing cathedrals, castles, battlefields, and Roman ruins. In Turkey, for example, her 12-year-old son “barters for a fez hat that he will probably never wear again”; later, at a Paris café, she notes her recently widowed mother’s loneliness, achingly detectable under her otherwise cheerful demeanor.

Fleetwood can be a sensitive observer and she has an admirable fascination with and respect for history. But occasionally, there are jarring juxtapositions. In Krakow, Poland, for example, the family visits a monument to many thousands of Krakow Jews who died in World War II; barely a paragraph later, Fleetwood’s husband spots a miniature dachshund: “I follow his pointed finger, and sure enough ahead in the distance is a darling brown miniature dachshund. It’s so cute!”

Overall, though, the author ably conveys the fleeting pleasures of managing a trip that embraces both grandparents and grandchildren. By the time they get to Poland, for example, the kids complain they are “churched out,” and anyone who’s ever been part of a family outing will certainly relate.

A likable author makes for a likable, dog-centric travel book.

Pawsome Books About Dogs on #NationalDogDay

Pawsome Books About Dogs on #NationalDogDay

Dog1 copyNational Dog Day is all about our furry friends, the woofy kind. It is a day to celebrate dogs, no matter what their breed, to bring some attention to how many dogs need to be rescued each year, to honour the many brave doggies that help save lives and keep people safe, and bring comfort to so many people world-wide.

In my house EVERY DAY is all about dogs. (Yes, I do have a husband and teenage children too!) But everywhere I go there is a dachshund or three watching me, making me laugh, giving me cuddles, love and so much joy.

Dogs, or woman’s best friend as I call them, are a big part of what makes me happy. They provide me with so much – I simply couldn’t picture my life without a few dogs. Without them I would be missing something beautiful.

Below I have shared some of my favourite books about dogs, and a few I’d like to read. It was only after compiling this list that I realised that each and every one made me cry. They also made me laugh. But most of all they make me glad that I have dogs in my life.

Some of my favourite books about dogs. 

  • First up – my book!! You didn’t think I was going to miss this opportunity did you! 🙂

Destination Dachshund: Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds offers a unique twist on the travel memoir with an often hilarious dachshund-spotting competition at the heart of one family’s journey through Turkey, Russia, Europe and the USA.

Through the wonder of travel Destination Dachshund explores the bond of family and the grieving of loved ones, both human and hound, and the extraordinary effect they have on our lives.

Want to grab a copy? You can do that HERE 🙂

  • Next up is Lily & the Octopus by Steven Rowley – such a funny, heartbreaking and engaging read. I am getting tears in my eyes just thinking about it. Highly recommended read. 


Lily and the Octopus is a novel about finding that special someone to share your life with. For Ted Flask, that someone is Lily, and she happens to be a dog. This novel reminds us how to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go and the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.

Read my book review HERE. 


  • Following on is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I read this a few years ago now but it is a book I have never forgotten. It is not often that you read a book written entirely in the perspective of a dog. 

Garth SteinEnzo knows he is different from other dogs: he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it.


  • I haven’t read this book, but the movie is an absolute winner. I’ve seen it so many times I’ve lost count. Tears in my eyes again just thinking about Red Dog. 


No reader, regardless of age, will fail to be captivated by this charming story of a legendary dog, in Louis de Bernières’ Canadian publishing debut.

After his beloved master, John, is killed in an accident, Red spends the rest of his life looking for him, not understanding that John is gone for good. Ensuingly, Red becomes everyone’ s dog. Welcomed by everyone he meets, Red goes to parties, hitches rides, steals food at beach barbecues, and makes friends with the most reluctant people and wary cats. Based on the wonderfully irresistible adventures of a legendary Aussie dog, Red Dog is about devotion, independence and good food — the things that matter.


  • Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey is an amazing read. Even though only one story is about a dog, it was such a powerful story. This collection of short stories is well worth the read. 

ONly the animals

The souls of ten animals caught up in human conflicts over the last century tell their astonishing stories of life and death. In a trench on the Western Front a cat recalls her owner Colette’s theatrical antics in Paris. In Nazi Germany a dog seeks enlightenment. A Russian tortoise once owned by the Tolstoys drifts in space during the Cold War. In the siege of Sarajevo a bear starving to death tells a fairytale. And a dolphin sent to Iraq by the US Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath…

An animal’s-eye view of humans at our brutal worst and our creative best, Only the Animals asks us to believe again in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction.


Lastly, here is Oprah’s 17 Great Books for Dog Lovers.


For the Love of Dogs – Pet Loss, Grief & Healing

For the Love of Dogs – Pet Loss, Grief & Healing

I discuss pet grief and losing our dachshund Coco to tragic circumstances in my memoir, Destination Dachshund, and have been amazed with the response from people. So many people grieve over the loss of a beloved pet, and for those who have dealt with it, or are going through it right now – it can be overwhelming at times.

Through writing Destination Dachshund, I met Wendy Van de Poll, a Certified End of Life and Grief Coach for Pets. Her first two books in her Pet Bereavement Series, My Dog is Dying, Emotions, Decisions & Options for Healing and My Dog Has Died: Making Decisions & Healing the Trauma of Pet Loss are wonderful books, whether to help with decisions with a terminally ill dog, dealing with grief after they pass, guilt that you could have done more, and moving on – both books with help with that journey.

Grieving is a different process for everyone, and for some it is very difficult. If you would like to buy Wendy’s books follow the links below. ↓

I still tear up when I think of when my first pet died, when we had to make that decision to put our old dachshund, Pancho, down when I was a child.

Since then there has been many dogs in my life – Gretel, a German shepherd that we had to call the vet in the middle of the night to have her put down when her arthritic legs gave out on her and she was in pain. That night, Pancho II, my second dachshund snuggled in bed between my husband and I, too distraught to sleep on his own after having spent his whole life so far sleeping against Gretel.

Afterwards there was Pepe, another dachshund and playmate for Pancho. They lived long full lives until Pancho got Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and was paralysed and incontinent and we made the difficult decision to put him down. We were all devastated. Sadly, Pepe died 6 months later and for the first time in my entire life, we had no dogs to fill our house with joy. It was quiet, too quiet. I hated the silence. I missed our dogs, I missed their companionship, their funny antics and their love.

To heal our hearts we then introduced Coco and Charlie into our lives and as the story goes in Destination Dachshund, our beautiful girl, Coco, died too young after being bitten by a red belly black snake just days before our three-month trip. It was devastating to lose her so young, and so tragically. I am still grieving over this, still feel guilt that I wasn’t there for her and wish I could have done more. ‘If only we’d arrived home sooner,’ is something I often think to myself. Writing the book stirred my grief up again, as well as the grief over my father’s death, but it was an exercise in healing as well.

Check out Wendy Van de Poll’s Pet Bereavement books below: 

Book 1 My Dog is Dying: What do I do? Buy HERE

Book 2 My Dog has Died: What do I do? $0.99 for a short time only – download it HERE

Wendy Book 1

My Review: Most people have grieved over a beloved pet, as have I. And each dog that has been in my life and lost has been very hard to get over – it always hits hard, but after reading Wendy Van de Poll’s book I feel better equipped to be able to deal with my grief. Having lost dogs to long illnesses and a sudden tragedy with a younger pet and make the agonising decision of when is the right time to euthanise a pet, this book, and the author understands what I am going through.

Wendy Van de Poll is qualified grief and end of life coach, pet celebrant and pet owner and has provided a wonderful book to help everyone through a difficult journey. She has included questions for grieving pet owners to contemplate and help to set up a plan to go forward and many case studies. It is a very comprehensive book on the subject of dealing with a dying pet from when you receive the heartbreaking news to healing, decision making and how to cope afterwards. It is always comforting to know I’m not alone in the intense grief I experience when losing a canine family member and companion.

Wendy Book2My Review: Author Wendy Van de Poll knows her stuff, she hits all the right points about the roller coaster of emotions that is felt when losing a beloved pet. Not only has she experienced it – but is also a verified pet bereavement coach. I connected with Wendy’s first book so much and it helped me through some long suppressed grief and guilt over a pet who passed a few years ago when having to make difficult decisions when a pet is ill. This book resonated with me as well, and for any pet lover who has lost their furry best friend whether recently or in years gone past it WILL help you get through the trauma of your silent house and your grieving heart.




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