Claire and Jim were friends, lovers, and sometimes enemies for 27 years. In order to get health insurance, they finally married, calling their anniversary the "It Means Absolutely Nothing" day. Then Jim was diagnosed with cancer. With ever-decreasing odds of survival, punctuated by arcs of false hope, Jim's deteriorating health altered their well-established independence as they became caregiver and patient, sharing intimacy as close as their own breaths. A year and a half into their marriage, Jim died from lung/brain cancer. Sustained by good dogs and gardening through the two years of madness that followed, Claire soldiered through home repairs, career disaster, genealogy quests, and "dating for seniors" trying to build a better life on the debris of her old one.Leave the Dogs at Home maps and plays with the stages of grief. Delightfully confessional, it challenges persistent, yet outdated, societal norms about relationships, and finds relief in whimsy, pop culture, and renewed spirituality.
1 The Fullness
4 Terminal Restlessness
6 Line of Salt
9 Balancing Concentrate
11 The In Between
12 The Point of Surrender
13 The Shitty Truth
15 Finding Boxerwood
16 Crabbottom Grits
17 Peripheral Vision
18 Six Years Later: New Tricks
This very personal memoir is a gift of insightful reflection on how weathering difficult situations and transitions can help us grow and transform and blossom again. The vivid imagery and flowing words were a healing balm. Claire Arbogast has had the courage to find her voice, her true being, and share it.
Aging to Sage-ing Facilitator
Life, just as a garden, does not have to be perfect and neat to be complete. Leave the Dogs at Home serves as a prime example of how a humble experience in the outdoors can come to our aid in times of need and healing.
Bruce W. Bytnar
Managing Director, Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden
Claire Arbogast rewrites the stages of grief in this raw, sometimes unsettling, always compelling memoir that takes us backward and forward in time from the moment her intense, complicated husband is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Leave the Dogs at Home challenges the conventional wisdom about love, marriage, loss, survival, and grace in ways that are bound to make you think about your own life.
author of Looking for Jack Kerouac
In this stunning debut, Claire Arbogast infuses death with life, giving readers both the gut-punch of grief as well as the warmth of a life well lived. Candid, powerful, and unrelenting, Arbogast’s pain becomes our pain, and her love becomes our love.
author of This Is Only a Test
Claire Arbogast's deeply moving memoir records with honesty and clarity how she managed to move forward with her life despite the death of her husband. Her story beautifully depicts the aftermath of deep personal loss.
author of Showers Brothers Furniture Company: The Shared Fortunes of a Family, a City, and a Univers
By the time I finished reading Leave the Dogs at Home, I felt sure I was holding a future classic. The best thing about Claire Arbogast, besides her wonderful writing, is her hard-headed sense of intimacy and her stubborn determination to live a life of love—whatever craziness and jury-rigging that might require from the heart.
author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
Leave the Dogs at Home is a memoir for and about adults and their very real lives. Claire and Jim take nearly a lifetime to move into marriage only to discover Jim has terminal cancer. But this is not so much a book about grief as it is about love. Readers will share that love and arrive at the end both stronger and wiser.
Jesse Lee Kercheval
author of Space: A Memoir and My Life as a Silent Movie
Leave the Dogs at Home mines the messy, graceful territory of life lived in the midst of upheaval; the roughness and tenderness of it all. Sharp and engaging, this beautiful memoir invites us to think about resilience and reconnection with the strongest parts of Self.
Creative Director, Women Writing for (a) Change of Bloomington, IN
A genre-busting memoir of grief and survival . . . Arbogast's rugged, honest account is as fresh, inspiring, and unconventional as she clearly is.
Arbogast delivers a raw and honest narrative of her life as a lover, a widow, and a woman. . .The theme of death and life, both literally and figuratively, are navigated with such emotion, it seems natural to empathize with the author in sadness, joy, love, and uncertainty as her longtime companion (later husband) Jim combats cancer. . . An excellent choice for those touched by grief, ready for a change, or just wanting to read a beautifully written memoir.