“She never rescued anyone from a house fire, she was never separated from me in a way that required her to miraculously journey hundreds of miles home, and a passing skateboard could send her cowering indoors for hours. And yet, she taught me everything I know about patience, kindness, strength, and unconditional love” – Steven Rowley, Lily and the Octopus
Ok, wow. If you have a dog, or any pet really, and you love them with all of your being and soul, then this read is for you. Expect to cry real tears, not just alligator tears. I would categorize this book into three parts; 1. Before The Octopus, 2. Living with The Octopus, 3. The Reality. That may not make any sense to you right now, but that is ok.
In part 1 and 2, Before The Octopus + Living with The Octopus, the book is extremely quirky, witty and full of laugh out loud humor. There were many times I didn’t really know exactly what was happening, but I knew it would come full circle at one point. And it did. Let’s just say this, this book will seriously make you question if Ted (the narrator) actually had back and forth dialogue with his dachshund, Lily. At one point I’ll admit I tried talking to my dogs just to see if they’d speak back to me the way Lily did to Ted. Unfortunately, that was a no. Sigh..
Anyway, part 1 we learn about Ted’s life as a single 40 something year old gay man living in LA. Most if not all of his life revolves around Lily whom he’s had since she was just a puppy old enough to leave her mother. We learn about Ted’s up and down type of life as he struggles with relationships, both romantic and familial. He’s witty and has a dark outlook on life most days, but his beloved Lily always lights up his life every day. He’s kind of a wreck, but we love Ted.
Part 2 we learn about The Octopus. Without giving away too much information, this term is left open ended for your imagination to do with it as you please. Once you get more into it, you can probably figure out what this is referring to. But once The Octopus appears in the story, the mood shifts from light-hearted with images of a talking dachshund to “uh-oh”. We read vivid scenes of our new character, The Octopus, and how Ted and Lily react to the visitor. Is it real, is it in Ted’s mind, is it a fictional reality, is it foreshadowing? It’s really hard to tell for this part as it seems so real, but so ridiculously out of left field. But hey, we’re dealing with a talking dog so really, it could be happening. Disclaimer: tears may start flowing in this part. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Part 3 is the reality of The Octopus and how Ted and Lily are responding and dealing with this reality. Tears will definitely be flowing here and to be honest, you’ll just need to let them roll. I know I did, as I sat on my couch early Saturday morning and cried like a baby.
Lily and the Octopus shows us what it means to be so bonded and connected with a being that we will go to any length to keep it safe. It’s about the unconditional love we get from our pets and in return, we gain strength, patience, kindness, warmth, love, and so much more. Life’s toughest lessons can be learned from our relationships with our furry companions and yet, it is life’s toughest battles that can be fought with them by our side.
*side note, I absolutely ugly cried into the fur of my two greyhounds, Pippen + MJ, after finishing this. You’re welcome for that image.