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By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara
Tracy Beckerman is one funny mother and I've had the pleasure of hanging out with her in person several times. I've also thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious trips through her life and mind, every time she publishes a new book or syndicated column. Her latest release, Barking at the Moon is no exception.
The Beckerman Boys - photo from the author
Tracy is entirely relatable and moved me to laugh out loud many times throughout this book, and tear up by the end. Barking at the Moon is essentially a love letter, not only to it's tall, dark and hairy protagonist prankster, Riley, the retriever, but also to the hands-on parenting years. Like Tracy, I also have a son and a daughter two years younger, and adored the decades of adventures with young children and their accompanying menagerie.
I'm finally at that parenting stage where I have two kids in college for the first time this year, and a shrinking home zoo, and I'd be lying if I said I don't miss it all. At our family pet peak we had two dogs, four guinea pigs, a 30 gallon tank full of tropical fish, and various betta fish bowls, also won by the kids with ping pong ball prowess, all in our urban Chicago home on Central Park Ave. I'm also a former cricket buying mama who not only fed/watered/housed a gecko at home, but somehow got suckered into insect buying for my daughter's two classroom lizards as well! We're down to two dogs and the big fish tank, but our WiFi is still lovingly dubbed The Central Park Wildlife Center (as in the NY zoo).
ChiIL Mama's Iggy Pup and Dugan, home from Northwestern University for a visit and missed greatly by dogs and parents alike.
Although the mess and chaos of caregiving for littles and their pets can be exhausting and gross in the moment, the years do fly by. And everyone who has deeply loved pets with shorter lifespans and/or children who are grown and flown knows the bittersweet ache of being past those days.
The Beckerman Kids - photos from the author
As the covid pandemic rages on, there are three things that have helped me weather the extra challenges of the past few years, humor, books, and dogs. Barking at the Moon expertly and hilariously combines all three. I was thrilled to be chosen for this blog hop and even happier when my assigned date aligned with my Husky Beagle (husgle... Beasky...?!) Iggy's golden birthday. Yes, Igrain the Brave (AKA: Iggy Pup) is 12 today on January 12th.
As I read Tracy's poignant, pup loving adventures and wrote this review, my sweet, old girl kept me company, curled up by the fire, along with my giant lap dog, Finsternis, my three year old, 110lb King German Shepherd, who loves nothing more than to sit on me while I write. Yes, the littles may be big now and off to live their own lives, but the memories remain. And there's always room in the empty nest for a dog or two!
Bonnie is a Chicago based writer, theatre critic, photographer, videographer, actress, artist and Mama. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly).
**Check out an excerpt from Barking at the Moon below**
(This bit had me laughing so hard I sprayed my latte all over Fin who happily lapped it up. Thanks Tracy. The world needs more caffeinated 110lb lap dogs. Reader beware. Put the coffee down before you read any further.)