Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I'm reading Cowboy and Wills by Monica Holloway. It's a memoir about her son (Wills) and the dog she and her husband get (Cowboy) to help him navigate life. The promotional literature says "you don't have to own a dog or be a parent to enjoy this heartwarming tale".

I wanted to read it because I DO love dogs (don't own one yet, but hope that will change soon), and I don't know much about autism, despite being a parent (the kids are grown), teaching school, and working with young children in social services. I've been exposed to it more at the bookstore. I have parents come in with their kids, or without, and they are requesting very specific books, these kids seem to have very specific interests and knowledge. One mom came in with her son, about 11, and they wanted any and all books about skylines. Specifically Seattle and Portland skylines. They would like lots of pictures of Seattle and Portland skylines, as this child has memorized each of the buildings and likes to see them over and over. Well, we had ONE book on skylines (!) and it wasn't just Portland and Seattle, but it was a start. They spent quite a while spread out on the floor looking at the book.

Back to the book...the mom kind of freaks out when she gets the autism diagnosis for her son, and one of her ways of coping is to go get some pets. They start with fish. They spend hundreds of dollars setting up a lovely aquarium, and Wills does love the fish. Whenever there's another particularly hard time, mom goes out and gets more pets. They move onto hermit crabs. Then hamsters. Then a bunny. And finally (I assume), the dog, a beautiful golden retriever (there are pictures) that Wills names Cowboy. I'm just at the point in the story where Cowboy comes to their house.

I like how she honestly chronicles her fear and panic, wondering if she'll know how to deal with her son's autism, as well as how she copes (she also cleans obsessively), and she describes well her love for Wills and her desire to do what's absolutely best for him.

I don't KNOW, because I'm not there yet in the book, but I predict, that the dog will help Wills (and probably the mom and dad) negotiate his world and provide lots of love.

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