My Life in Dog Years contains stories about several of Paulsen’s dogs. A few are sad, but even the sad ones can be funny. For instance, in “Dirk,” Paulsen lives in a basement, surviving on what he can earn from setting pins at the bowling alley and selling newspapers in bars and trying to avoid having his money stolen by teenage thugs. This is a bleak background, but Paulsen tells the story with much vigor, and the descriptions of Dirk chasing away thugs are very funny. Other stories describe disastrous circumstances, but Paulsen seems to attract dogs that love him, at least two of which he characterizes as coming close to being “a live nuclear weapon,” and a smart dog or two that were smarter than many humans. My Life in Dog Years is informative reading, it is adventure in the wilderness, it is dogs, bears, skunks, pigs, gardens, and barns, and it often tugs at the heart, but mostly it is fun. The lingering impression from the book is happiness.

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