By Marc Ang
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/12/21 – As a dog dad of 3, it was an enjoyable journey to follow author Susan Hartzler’s relationship with various dogs over the years in “I’m Not Single, I Have A Dog”. Complete with pictures, it was an eventful journey following most of her adult life and a testament to how important our furry sidekicks are as we navigate through the various trials and tribulations.
Perhaps the most powerful moments were the moments of pain, grief and loss but also the proud moments when Sue trained one of her dogs. Overall, overcoming adversity was the main theme from an alcoholic boyfriend who raped her to her parents passing and the estate settlement process tearing apart her relationships with her siblings. These key moments in life can define you but also leave you shaken and feeling alone. Yet, it’s all part of the journey of life, and my dogs have helped me through similar events.
Her romantic relationships including one with a “bad boy” she tried to change, but ultimately failed at, was really a backdrop for the journey of self discovery, strength building and self actualization. It was not about the other person, but Sue’s own boundaries and what she accepted.
I applaud Sue for speaking honestly about her authentic experience and digging deep into emotions from the past. Having lived a bit of life, I know how painful it is to go back. I still weep when I see pictures of my beloved Buddy who passed in 2005. But it is these powerful moments of bonding with our furry best friends and children that serve as a time machine and remind you how you felt and where you were, years or decades ago, and to the person you once were, less mature but maybe with much more energy and wonder about the world. This book feels cathartic.
Sue captures that powerful man-canine relationship by focusing on her own life experience against a backdrop of dating and failed relationships, which is the impetus for the title. However, relationship or not, it’s important to be comfortable alone and that’s ultimately what the message of the book is. That is a universal message that can be taken for any single or attached person.
We must not depend on another to complete us, but to be in the mentality of bettering another’s life. That is what a dog does. They sit at home and wait for us to come home from work. Their unconditional love for us is selfless and teaches us to be better people. Ultimately, they train us to be better significant others as well. I, for one, could not ever see myself in a long term relationship or friendship with someone who doesn’t love dogs.
Sue’s sensitivity is captured by her love for dogs, and to take the lessons taught to her. That love helped her discern some unsavory characters throughout the book and gave her the strength to say goodbye, something many cannot muster up in a lifetime.