When opera singer E. Rawlins wanders into a Manhattan pet store, she is instantly charmed by a tiny Maltese terrier puppy, but she soon discovers the little bundle of joy she dubs Frizbee is in fact, a “mini monster.”
This charming memoir details the nearly 15 years that “Fritz” ruled Rawlins’ life with demands that the author and her “big baritone” beau cave into daily. Exactly what she has gotten herself into becomes clear when Fritz is just a pup and she visits the family veterinarian. “Then, almost as if preaching a Sunday-morning sermon, he (the vet) lowered his voice. ‘The mentality of the male Maltese is delusional. … At barely eight pounds full grown, these dogs act like they weigh two hundred and fifty! They all have entitlement issues. They … represent statistically the breed most often dumped for behavioral problems in the …’ He stuttered. ‘In the entire world…’ ”
Despite Fritz’s dictatorial behavior, he becomes a much-beloved member of the Rawlins’ household, driving the couple to continually contrive “anti-terror tactics” for coping with him. They learn to never enter his sleeping area unannounced, and when petting him, to keep their mind on the task at hand, or risk his fury. Rawlins comes to view Fritz as her personal Zen master, whose purpose is to make her a better person.
While at times, the metaphysical aspect of the story may leave some shaking their heads – such as the New Jersey-accented voice the author hears and listens to at various times in her life – this is a heartfelt and engaging read. There are a few cringe-worthy moments when Rawlins admits to some stupid pet owner mistakes – encouraging Fritz to growl tops the list. Nonetheless, this is certain to be appreciated by dog lovers, especially those who have experienced a holy terror of their own.
Also available in hardcover.