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Woodrow on the Bench: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog

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"Woodrow on the Bench is a touching tribute as well as a gripping story that will make you laugh and cry. It will also make you understand the majesty and wisdom imparted by the animals we are lucky to keep by our sides for as long as we can.”—New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Those Who Save Us pays "Woodrow on the Bench is a touching tribute as well as a gripping story that will make you laugh and cry. It will also make you understand the majesty and wisdom imparted by the animals we are lucky to keep by our sides for as long as we can.”—New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Those Who Save Us pays tribute to her beloved black Lab, Woodrow, in this beautiful memoir that recalls the last six months of his life and the ways in which he taught her to live.   “For anyone who’s ever loved an old dog.” Since she adopted him as a puppy fifteen years earlier, Jenna Blum and Woodrow have been inseparable. Known to many as “the George Clooney of dogs” for his good looks and charm, Woodrow and his “Mommoo” are fixtures in their Boston neighborhood.  But Woodrow is aging. As he begins to fail, the true nature of his extraordinary relationship with Jenna is revealed. Jenna may be the dog parent, but it is Woodrow, with his amazing personality and trusting nature, who has much to teach her. A divorcée who has experienced her share of sadness and loss, Jenna discovers, over the months she spends caring for her ailing dog, what it is to be present in the moment, and what it truly means to love. Aided by an amazing group of friends and buoyed by the support of strangers, Jenna and Woodrow navigate these precious final days together with kindness, humor, and grace. Their unforgettable love story will reaffirm your belief in kindness, break your heart, and leave your spirit soaring.


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"Woodrow on the Bench is a touching tribute as well as a gripping story that will make you laugh and cry. It will also make you understand the majesty and wisdom imparted by the animals we are lucky to keep by our sides for as long as we can.”—New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Those Who Save Us pays "Woodrow on the Bench is a touching tribute as well as a gripping story that will make you laugh and cry. It will also make you understand the majesty and wisdom imparted by the animals we are lucky to keep by our sides for as long as we can.”—New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Those Who Save Us pays tribute to her beloved black Lab, Woodrow, in this beautiful memoir that recalls the last six months of his life and the ways in which he taught her to live.   “For anyone who’s ever loved an old dog.” Since she adopted him as a puppy fifteen years earlier, Jenna Blum and Woodrow have been inseparable. Known to many as “the George Clooney of dogs” for his good looks and charm, Woodrow and his “Mommoo” are fixtures in their Boston neighborhood.  But Woodrow is aging. As he begins to fail, the true nature of his extraordinary relationship with Jenna is revealed. Jenna may be the dog parent, but it is Woodrow, with his amazing personality and trusting nature, who has much to teach her. A divorcée who has experienced her share of sadness and loss, Jenna discovers, over the months she spends caring for her ailing dog, what it is to be present in the moment, and what it truly means to love. Aided by an amazing group of friends and buoyed by the support of strangers, Jenna and Woodrow navigate these precious final days together with kindness, humor, and grace. Their unforgettable love story will reaffirm your belief in kindness, break your heart, and leave your spirit soaring.

30 review for Woodrow on the Bench: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook….read by Jenna Blum …..5 hours and 1 minute Woodrow - Jenna’s 14-year old black lab, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure— he became (as Jenna herself says), “a walking pharmacy” — needing so many meds. Having recently lost her mother to cancer - she just couldn’t lose her beloved Woodrow, too, in the same year. Jenna needed more time…. praying for one more year with Woodrow. This story is tender… I felt comforted and blessed getting to know Woodrow. I cherished being invited in to Audiobook….read by Jenna Blum …..5 hours and 1 minute Woodrow - Jenna’s 14-year old black lab, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure— he became (as Jenna herself says), “a walking pharmacy” — needing so many meds. Having recently lost her mother to cancer - she just couldn’t lose her beloved Woodrow, too, in the same year. Jenna needed more time…. praying for one more year with Woodrow. This story is tender… I felt comforted and blessed getting to know Woodrow. I cherished being invited in to love him too… getting to know who Woodrow was. The love-relationship between Woodrow and Jenna…(and even their connections/ support from the community)…. is moving - and more moving - and even more moving!!! It’s true about the laughter and tears …. couldn’t escape either. My daughter lost her 17 year old dog - *Lunchbox* - less than a month ago - (heartbreaking for all of us) A couple of days ago a new puppy - *Sardine*- came into my daughter’s life too …. Dog memories & emotions in our family have been on high gear. Jenna Blum’s book is heartbreaking and beautiful— personal….intimate as can be. — a very moving tribute to Woodrow. Filled with humor, personal history, sadness, and love. 💕🐾💕🐾💕🐾💕🐾💕

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Nursing an elderly, large breed dog, agonizing over when the time has come to call the vet for the final time . . . Yep. Been there, done that. Caring for my fifteen and a half year old Golden Retriever, Randy, was never a problem until December of 2019. There were good days and bad days, but most of them were very good. He slept a lot, still ate eagerly, and still loved going for walks, albeit much shorter walks than he previously did just a few months earlier. But, the stairs were becoming a pro Nursing an elderly, large breed dog, agonizing over when the time has come to call the vet for the final time . . . Yep. Been there, done that. Caring for my fifteen and a half year old Golden Retriever, Randy, was never a problem until December of 2019. There were good days and bad days, but most of them were very good. He slept a lot, still ate eagerly, and still loved going for walks, albeit much shorter walks than he previously did just a few months earlier. But, the stairs were becoming a problem. Luckily, my youngest son was able to carry him in and out on the days when even the ramp was too much to negotiate. There were a few "accidents" after he ate a bit too much Christmas turkey, but the carpet was easily cleaned, and everyone survived. In January, things got bad. Once on a walk, his legs gave out while he was pooping, and he fell into his newly made mess. I had nothing to clean him with but a plastic bag. He was humiliated, and we were all miserable. Then came the day when Randy didn't eat the McDonald's cheeseburger (sans onions, of course) that my husband brought him. The next day, he turned down sausage. I knew it was time. Blum, a popular novelist, had tough decisions to make about her fifteen year old Lab, Woodrow. Unlike me, she had no family living with her to help with his care. It was all on her, until she discovered that there were many friends, and even strangers, more than eager to pitch in and lend a hand. The ending is predictable - heart-tugging and devastating, but there's always that one tiny ray of hope for the future. Jenna with Woodrow. Jenna and Henry Higgins on the bench. We know when we bring home these lovable balls of fur that we will be saying goodbye, yet we continue to adopt them . . . again and again. I guess there's just something about spending your life with a pet that makes all the pain worthwhile . . .

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I never met Woodrow, novelist Jenna Blum's black lab who grew to be a fixture as he aged on Boston's Commonwealth Mall, but I feel I got to know him in Blum's wise and wrenching and devastatingly beautiful memoir of his last half-year. And I mean that: this book is both devastating and beautiful, and you will never again look into your dog's -- or any dog's -- eyes and not feel the bond that can exist between a person and their pet. I read a lot in the bath, and I finished this remarkable book i I never met Woodrow, novelist Jenna Blum's black lab who grew to be a fixture as he aged on Boston's Commonwealth Mall, but I feel I got to know him in Blum's wise and wrenching and devastatingly beautiful memoir of his last half-year. And I mean that: this book is both devastating and beautiful, and you will never again look into your dog's -- or any dog's -- eyes and not feel the bond that can exist between a person and their pet. I read a lot in the bath, and I finished this remarkable book in the tub and added new meaning to the expression, "drunk in the bathtub eyes." But I was sober. Just inconsolable. This book is a gem. Read it. You'll love it and you'll love Woodrow, and you'll glimpse the numinous: love in all its corporeal majesty.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

    Excuse me while I continue to wipe my tears off my face.... oh Woodrow!!!! Oh Jenna Blum.... what a heartbreaking and beautiful memoir of the last time of his life. Ugh... this broke my heart in so many different ways. I have always been such a dog lover but after I finished this one I cried and just hugged my dog Galiver so hard about 20 times haha. Together, Jenna and Woodrow built a special community together with the love that Woodrow brought to so many. This is an absolute gem and Woodrow ta Excuse me while I continue to wipe my tears off my face.... oh Woodrow!!!! Oh Jenna Blum.... what a heartbreaking and beautiful memoir of the last time of his life. Ugh... this broke my heart in so many different ways. I have always been such a dog lover but after I finished this one I cried and just hugged my dog Galiver so hard about 20 times haha. Together, Jenna and Woodrow built a special community together with the love that Woodrow brought to so many. This is an absolute gem and Woodrow taught me life lessons that I will not forget. Jenna's voice is such perfection between humor and tugging at your heart strings. I absolutely loved it!! I am so honored to have been part of this blog tour and this is a forever gem that will be on my bookshelf for life. 5 stars!! Thank you so much to Jenna Blum and the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linden

    Jenna has a 14 year old black lab that she adores. (Full disclosure: I also have a 14 year old black lab.) He's been with her through breakups and writing successes, but she knows that at 14 he's defying the odds for a larger dog, and is "basically Methuselah." She's surprised that usually impatient Boston drivers allow her and Woodrow to cross the street safely, as she helps him with his handled harness since his back legs don't work well anymore. Even though he has some age-related problems, h Jenna has a 14 year old black lab that she adores. (Full disclosure: I also have a 14 year old black lab.) He's been with her through breakups and writing successes, but she knows that at 14 he's defying the odds for a larger dog, and is "basically Methuselah." She's surprised that usually impatient Boston drivers allow her and Woodrow to cross the street safely, as she helps him with his handled harness since his back legs don't work well anymore. Even though he has some age-related problems, he still likes sitting by his bench receiving attention from passers-by, and wouldn't say no to bacon. Jenna Blum has written a wonderful tribute to her canine companion--I would recommend this book to any dog lover. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for allowing me to review this advance copy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I am an unabashed Jenna Blum fan girl. Ever since her debut novel, Those Who Save Us, she has had me under her spell. So being the obsessive person that I am, I have long stalked her on social media. And through that, I fell in love with her dog Woodrow. He was featured frequently in her posts and I could feel how much she loved him. When he sadly crossed the rainbow bridge, my heart broke for her. And when I saw she was releasing a book about him, I knew I would have to read it even if it shatt I am an unabashed Jenna Blum fan girl. Ever since her debut novel, Those Who Save Us, she has had me under her spell. So being the obsessive person that I am, I have long stalked her on social media. And through that, I fell in love with her dog Woodrow. He was featured frequently in her posts and I could feel how much she loved him. When he sadly crossed the rainbow bridge, my heart broke for her. And when I saw she was releasing a book about him, I knew I would have to read it even if it shattered me. And yet, I almost didn't read it when the library notified me it came in. As some of you know, we had to put one of our cats down a few weeks ago. Losing a pet is hard. It's painful. For many, including myself, they become part of your family. This one was an especially hard loss. Penelope was truly special. She was feisty and sassy. The vets were wary of her. Rightfully so. As she marched into old age, even losing a leg didn't keep her down. She doled out her love sparingly. I believe she only truly loved my sister and me. I thought I would try this book out and if it was too hard I would stop. And while it did break me in places, I found it cathartic too so I kept reading. So much of it mirrored our final year with Penelope. When you are trying to decide if their quality of life is still good. When they have bad days and good days and you have to decide if the good days outweigh the bad. Until it's obvious they don't. Jenna Blum has such a lovely writing style. It pulls you in. It's intimate. It's beautiful. This was a fitting tribute to Woodrow who Jenna calls the great love of her life. I felt that love in my bones. So here's to Woodrow. And Penelope. And all of the fur babies who sadly have to leave us before we're ready. Truthfully, we would never really be ready. Can't they just go when we do?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan Meissner

    Loved it. This gem of a memoir reminds us that good dogs show us everyday that we are meant to love each other with care and kindness…

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kris Verdeck

    Laughed and cried my way through this beautiful story of a lovable lab and devoted pup mom. Highly recommend and relatable whether or not you are a pet owner as the book is about friendships, community, inner reflection and grief. Blum is engaging and funny and made me want to sit and sip a cocktail with her. If I'm ever in Boston, I will stop by Woodrow's bench to have a sit and think about those I've lost with gratitude. Laughed and cried my way through this beautiful story of a lovable lab and devoted pup mom. Highly recommend and relatable whether or not you are a pet owner as the book is about friendships, community, inner reflection and grief. Blum is engaging and funny and made me want to sit and sip a cocktail with her. If I'm ever in Boston, I will stop by Woodrow's bench to have a sit and think about those I've lost with gratitude.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Loigman

    WOODROW ON THE BENCH is about the unconditional love only a beloved pet can provide. It’s about hope and tenacity, comfort, and purpose. Together, Woodrow and Jenna built a community - a collection of people who came together because Woodrow brought out the best in all of them. I am so in awe of my Jenna Blum for sharing this story. This is a book you can’t put down and a book whose lessons you won’t want to forget.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Hensle Lowrance

    What a beautiful, heartfelt moving story. This memoir touches on the elements that define a life—friendship, love, connection, family, community, and sacrifice—through the author’s relationship with her dog. The author’s deep love for her beloved dog will resonate with every pet lover. I laughed and cried while reading this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan Z

    This is a sweet story and a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog. This is a must read for all of you pet lovers out there. It's wonderful love story between a mama and her fur baby and it absolutely melted my heart. There are so many lovely passages, this one especially moved me: ".. When you let people know what you're going through, help arrives when you're least expecting it, bringing you what you didn't know you needed, in forms above and beyond what you've ever imagined." 🥰🥰 WOW🥰🥰 This is a sweet story and a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog. This is a must read for all of you pet lovers out there. It's wonderful love story between a mama and her fur baby and it absolutely melted my heart. There are so many lovely passages, this one especially moved me: ".. When you let people know what you're going through, help arrives when you're least expecting it, bringing you what you didn't know you needed, in forms above and beyond what you've ever imagined." 🥰🥰 WOW🥰🥰

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan McBeth

    As Woodrow on the Bench is a memoir about the author's last year with her aging dog, it is no spoiler alert to say what the reader can expect to happen, so you would be well advised to read with a generous supply of tissues. However, what you might not expect is that this book is also uplifting, because it is a beautiful testament to the role pets play in our lives, and more specifically, the memorable bond between Jenna "Momoo" Blum and Woodrow ("Kooks"), made unforgettable by Jenna's loving me As Woodrow on the Bench is a memoir about the author's last year with her aging dog, it is no spoiler alert to say what the reader can expect to happen, so you would be well advised to read with a generous supply of tissues. However, what you might not expect is that this book is also uplifting, because it is a beautiful testament to the role pets play in our lives, and more specifically, the memorable bond between Jenna "Momoo" Blum and Woodrow ("Kooks"), made unforgettable by Jenna's loving memories, keen insights, stunning writing, and tender moments that will leave you simultaneously sobbing and celebrating. Each year, I select a book that touches me in a special way, and then I purchase an entire box to give away as gifts to people who may need it the most, and this year, my choice is Woodrow on the Bench. I cannot recommend it enough; you would be sorely missing out to not add this book to your "to be read" list.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    Jenna’s love for Woodrow is portrayed with honest emotion and vivid language. Woodrow, was no doubt, a special dog. BUT for me the long lead in from senior citizen to death was overworked. How many poopslosions does one reader have to hear about—or labored trips up the steps—or long good nights? There was no recognition of the privilege needed for his extensive elder care. For me, Woodrow’s story would have been better condensed into an extended essay. I’ve had and loved dogs my entire life but Jenna’s love for Woodrow is portrayed with honest emotion and vivid language. Woodrow, was no doubt, a special dog. BUT for me the long lead in from senior citizen to death was overworked. How many poopslosions does one reader have to hear about—or labored trips up the steps—or long good nights? There was no recognition of the privilege needed for his extensive elder care. For me, Woodrow’s story would have been better condensed into an extended essay. I’ve had and loved dogs my entire life but never would have allowed such a long painful death or expected so much sympathy from my friends.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Let me start with this disclaimer- I rarely read non-fiction and I don't have a dog (family has allergies). Now, let me say what a beautiful book Woodrow on the Bench is a beautiful love story. As Jenna Blum says, "Thus began the most durable love affair of my life." Blum's love for Woodrow shines on every page of this book. She writes "He was my structure and my laughter, my companion and Tavel partner, my responsibility and my daily joy." Woodrow became like Cheers- where everyone near him knew Let me start with this disclaimer- I rarely read non-fiction and I don't have a dog (family has allergies). Now, let me say what a beautiful book Woodrow on the Bench is a beautiful love story. As Jenna Blum says, "Thus began the most durable love affair of my life." Blum's love for Woodrow shines on every page of this book. She writes "He was my structure and my laughter, my companion and Tavel partner, my responsibility and my daily joy." Woodrow became like Cheers- where everyone near him knew his name and his bench. Blum has written a raw and honest memoir teaching us the lessons she learned from a "Wise Old Dog" Thanks Harper for an advance copy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Jenna shares her life, joy and sorrow with her beloved forever friend Woodrow. I laughed and cried as she shared every emotion all true pet lovers experience from the joyous beginning of their pet’s lives to the heartbreaking end. 🚨 Warning: Tissues needed

  16. 4 out of 5

    Crystal King

    What a beautiful tribute to a beloved pet. I had the opportunity to meet Woodrow a handful of times in his very old age, and oh! What a sweet sweet pooch. You could not help but love him, and he was especially lucky to be loved by Jenna Blum. This is such a moving, inspiring memoir that will also have you laughing between the moments where you might fall apart sobbing. Trust me, you'll never forget this book about the "George Clooney of dogs." What a beautiful tribute to a beloved pet. I had the opportunity to meet Woodrow a handful of times in his very old age, and oh! What a sweet sweet pooch. You could not help but love him, and he was especially lucky to be loved by Jenna Blum. This is such a moving, inspiring memoir that will also have you laughing between the moments where you might fall apart sobbing. Trust me, you'll never forget this book about the "George Clooney of dogs."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julie Yashur

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What a beautifully written memoir about the Jenna's (the author) life with Woodrow, her aging black Labrador. Jenna did a wonderful job describing cute, funny and sad memories of her beloved dog. Some of my favorite parts of the book were: "Kooks" was her nickname for Woodrow Every night she told Woodrow that "Mommoo loves you more than anything in the uni, yes she does" The fifteenth birthday party Jenna had for Woodrow by his favorite bench. For the party she provided six pounds of bacon and a ca What a beautifully written memoir about the Jenna's (the author) life with Woodrow, her aging black Labrador. Jenna did a wonderful job describing cute, funny and sad memories of her beloved dog. Some of my favorite parts of the book were: "Kooks" was her nickname for Woodrow Every night she told Woodrow that "Mommoo loves you more than anything in the uni, yes she does" The fifteenth birthday party Jenna had for Woodrow by his favorite bench. For the party she provided six pounds of bacon and a case of champagne for the dogs and their owners whom she invited to the big party.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Annissa Joy Armstrong

    The first time that I heard Jenna speak about this incredible book, I knew I wanted to read it but I did not realize how much I wanted and needed to read this book until my copy arrived!!! It is a book that tore my heart into a million pieces but the deep love in this book put my heart back together. I never had the chance to meet Woodrow but the author writes so brilliantly that I felt like he was my best friend too!!! Jenna and Woodrow had an amazing relationship and the relationships that they The first time that I heard Jenna speak about this incredible book, I knew I wanted to read it but I did not realize how much I wanted and needed to read this book until my copy arrived!!! It is a book that tore my heart into a million pieces but the deep love in this book put my heart back together. I never had the chance to meet Woodrow but the author writes so brilliantly that I felt like he was my best friend too!!! Jenna and Woodrow had an amazing relationship and the relationships that they had with others was amazing!! If you have ever loved a pet, this book is a must read!! It is truly a beautiful and moving story!! I loved it!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna McCaul Thibodeau

    I'm a fan of Jenna Blum and this is the story of Woodrow, her beloved dog. He is diagnosed with congestive heart failure in May and she has to put him to sleep in December. I think that anyone who has lost a beloved pet can relate as Jenna and Woodrow navigate the last months of his life. I read this book in one sitting. It is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Woodrow. Jenna and he were lucky to share their lives together. Highly, highly recommended. Thanks to Goodreads for an advanced copy of thi I'm a fan of Jenna Blum and this is the story of Woodrow, her beloved dog. He is diagnosed with congestive heart failure in May and she has to put him to sleep in December. I think that anyone who has lost a beloved pet can relate as Jenna and Woodrow navigate the last months of his life. I read this book in one sitting. It is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Woodrow. Jenna and he were lucky to share their lives together. Highly, highly recommended. Thanks to Goodreads for an advanced copy of this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Baker

    I'm a dog owner and a dog lover. I've had more "Woodrows" in my life than I care to mention, but I always keep coming back for more. I have been married for nearly 46 years and we have had more dogs than I have fingers. Each was special in their own right and each holds an honored place in my heart. We had "Herman the German", a miniature dachshund who had a disc rupture in his back at age 4 that left him paralyzed for the last 9 years of his life and required manual manipulation to help him uri I'm a dog owner and a dog lover. I've had more "Woodrows" in my life than I care to mention, but I always keep coming back for more. I have been married for nearly 46 years and we have had more dogs than I have fingers. Each was special in their own right and each holds an honored place in my heart. We had "Herman the German", a miniature dachshund who had a disc rupture in his back at age 4 that left him paralyzed for the last 9 years of his life and required manual manipulation to help him urinate and deficate. He was followed by Little Bit, a registered Boston Terrier given to us by a neighbor who didn't want her anymore. She was an epileptic requiring constant medication and whose seizures left her with brain damage. Then there was Dirl (not a boy, but a dirl) a stray that landed in our front yard and took up homestead. Then Brandy arrived who followed our daughter home from school - guess she could smell that her family liked dogs. Dirl was a fence jumper and Brandy was a follower. After nailing the last picket on a 6' privacy fence, we discovered, heights were no obstacle for Dirl. Orville came to us as a puppy (from a litter at the house of one of our daughter's friends). He was black and beautiful, but grew a strong jealousy to our new infant son. A utility worker left the gate open and Orville was never found -- and we looked for months. Then Harry happened upon our house and he instantly fell in love with playing with our son and watching He-Man and Ninja Turtles be thrown around on the fireplace hearth. Our only "purchased" dog was a registered Cocker Spaniel, Riff Raff Ralph. We actually purchased him as a companion for Harry. Harry developed a huge tumor in his chest that attached itself to his heart and he was gone shortly after. In came "Alice", a stray dachshund/chihuahua mix that our son found sitting in the middle of the road. Alice and Ralph "The Cramdens" as we referred to them, enjoyed many years together, until Alice developed what at first appeared to be total blindness. It was later ($3,000 later) discovered that she had an infection in her spinal fluid which required enormous doses of steroids to clear up but also added about 30 pounds to a very tiny body. Alice had trouble getting around and Ralph developed cataracts, deafness, arthritis and prostate problems. My mother-in-law passed from ALS and we acquired her "stray" dog, Sammie. Sammie had been a gift to her neighbor years ago who had early Alzheimers. The problem was she couldn't remember she had a dog. For years my mother-in-law fed and watered Sammie over the fence and eventually just took her home. So we found ourselves with 3 dogs in our house, ages 16-1/2, 17 and 18) and in the course of 12 months, we lost all 3. Sammie was the last to go at over 110 pounds and 18 years on this earth. I swore we would never have another dog as I couldn't go through that feeling of loss anymore, but my first day home from work, I realized it was the first time in over 40 years I had walked into our house without finding a single dog. With the exception of one, Ralph, all of our dogs have been rescued from a life on the streets or a life of neglect. In reality, we didn't rescue them - they rescued US. Each and every one gave us purpose, someone to nurture, some to give us unconditional love, someone excited to hear our voice and see our face. Each were content to sit at your feet, on your lap or atop your bed and just enjoy breathing in unison. We knew after just one day in an empty house, that even though no matter of time or prayer could ever erase those gone from our mind, that in their hearts they would want us to find another fur baby to "rescue us". A week later we were the proud owners of two shelter dogs (one a year old and one only 12 weeks). Virgil and Wyatt have been with us nearly 3 years and weigh 65 and 107 pounds, respectively. My husband and I, at age 64 and 73, respectively, find them exhausting some days but could not imagine life without them. I read Woodrow on the Bench, knowing exactly what the story was and how it would play out. I just wanted to see if others found their life as exalted and fulfilling as we do with the dogs that have graced our lives. I wish I had known Woodrow; it sounds like he had an amazing impact on so many lives. But in reality, I've had many Woodrow's in my life. As I look back fondly on all my furry buddies, I hope they knew how much they were loved. I hope I brought joy, happiness and meaning to their lives. In all that I was able to give each in their short time here on earth, it was nothing in comparison to the enrichment and love they gave to me. Like Woodrow, there is much we could all learn from any "wise old dog". 1) play hard and rest hard; 2) smile when you can, wag your tail if you can't; 3) don't hold grudges - just love those who love you; 3) never miss an opportunity to spend quiet time with those quiet your fears and show love without words; and 4) all dogs go to heaven - so live your life well so that we can all be together again.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Jenna adopted Woodrow (a black Lab) as a puppy and he changed her life right from the beginning. As the book begins, Woodrow is 14 years old and beginning to have health problems Twelve years is the normal life span for this breed so Woodrow was definitely a 'senior citizen". When she took him for walks, they always ended up on a bench on Boston's Commonwealth Mall across from her apartment. She and Woodrow made lots of friends on that bench - both humans and other dogs. Helped by an amazing gro Jenna adopted Woodrow (a black Lab) as a puppy and he changed her life right from the beginning. As the book begins, Woodrow is 14 years old and beginning to have health problems Twelve years is the normal life span for this breed so Woodrow was definitely a 'senior citizen". When she took him for walks, they always ended up on a bench on Boston's Commonwealth Mall across from her apartment. She and Woodrow made lots of friends on that bench - both humans and other dogs. Helped by an amazing group of old friends and new friends that she'd met on the bench, she was helped by their support during Woodrow's final days. The story of the love between Jenna and Woodrow will break your heart but it will also make you feel good about other people and their pets. I have never had a pet so I wasn't sure that this whether this book would resonate with me. Growing up, there were too many kids and not enough room for a pet and after I got married, we both travelled too much to add a pet to our family. After reading about Woodrow's life, I think that I need to look into adopting a rescue dog. This book shines with the unconditional love between Jenna and Woodrow. It made me laugh - especially during the "conversations" between them. It also made me cry - not just tears but sobs. This book is a must read for people with their own fur babies but it's also a book that needs to be read by anyone who doesn't understand the love between a person and their dog. Thanks to Jenna for sharing her story about the lessons that you learned from that wise old dog. Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    This story is so deeply personal and moving that it only feels right to address this review to the author. Jenna, thank you for sharing your and Woodrow's beautiful story. I haven't had a dog of my own since I was a little kid, but over the course of the last eleven summers, I've cared for six dogs from the same family. I'm currently watching the last surviving pup of the original crew of four, a 14-year-old yellow lab named Moose, his enthusiastic 3-year-old labradoodle cousin, and my 1-year-ol This story is so deeply personal and moving that it only feels right to address this review to the author. Jenna, thank you for sharing your and Woodrow's beautiful story. I haven't had a dog of my own since I was a little kid, but over the course of the last eleven summers, I've cared for six dogs from the same family. I'm currently watching the last surviving pup of the original crew of four, a 14-year-old yellow lab named Moose, his enthusiastic 3-year-old labradoodle cousin, and my 1-year-old "first-born" cat, Lucy. Like Woodrow in his old age, Moose has a Help Em Up to assist with his mobility and he can't bear to be alone, voicing his concerns with 'yarks.' The other two have spent the last few days antagonizing each other while Moose chills on his bed. Your book was just what the four of us needed to pass some time together; I decided to read entire book to them, through lots of tears, and with lots of snuggles. It was sublime. It is truly astonishing how entwined our pets become in our lives, as are the lessons they teach us even after they physically leave us. From one stubborn, independent 30-something to another, I appreciate the truths and insights you shared about your personal story; you've given me plenty to think about. For anyone considering reading this book, stop reading these reviews right now and go read it - read it TO your pets (or someone else's pets)! Snuggle up with them and take them to their favorite spot and give them so many treats. That's all this book made me want to do. I have never finished a giveaway book within 24 hours of receiving it. A sincere thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for this ARC.

  23. 4 out of 5

    wellreadtraveler

    To say this book broke my heart in two would be an understatement. Like ugly cried. Every animal mom will be moved to tears but in the best way. Author Jenna Blum has written the most beautiful dedication to her best friend Woodrow, the handsome and bacon loving black lab. I grew up my whole life with labs as pets so I know what big lumps of mushy love muffins they are. Jenna tells the story of how she became a dog mom and how Woodrow changed her life and the lives of those who knew him. I know To say this book broke my heart in two would be an understatement. Like ugly cried. Every animal mom will be moved to tears but in the best way. Author Jenna Blum has written the most beautiful dedication to her best friend Woodrow, the handsome and bacon loving black lab. I grew up my whole life with labs as pets so I know what big lumps of mushy love muffins they are. Jenna tells the story of how she became a dog mom and how Woodrow changed her life and the lives of those who knew him. I know many people don’t like to read “sad” books but Woodrow on the Bench is so much more. Honestly when I was reading it I was thinking most humans don’t get such a beautiful dedication! “Every birth brings its death with it; no one can escape it” Thank you Jenna for sharing Woodrow with us. What a privilege to read your love story dedicated to your fur baby who lived a long happy life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    Although this is in many ways a sad story of elderly Woodrow's decline, it is primarily a tribute to the many ways he brought his community of people and dogs together. This is a beautiful and nicely written story interspersed with a series of vignettes, some of which are touching and many of which are amusing. Although many "dog books" are great stories, fewer are great stories that are also well written. The writer is a professional author and it is evident by the quality of the writing. Although this is in many ways a sad story of elderly Woodrow's decline, it is primarily a tribute to the many ways he brought his community of people and dogs together. This is a beautiful and nicely written story interspersed with a series of vignettes, some of which are touching and many of which are amusing. Although many "dog books" are great stories, fewer are great stories that are also well written. The writer is a professional author and it is evident by the quality of the writing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dana Duplantis

    A very good book about someone who was a dog lover that lives to be 14 years old. She adopted him as a puppy. When Jena discovers her dog is not doing well her group of friends supported her.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    Any dog owner knows this path, having 2 dogs have surgery last week it was especially poignant.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Deena B

    Woodrow on the Bench by Jenna Blum What a beautiful way to honor a precious faithful friend!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Beautiful and heartbreaking. I love you, Woodrow.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Jenna Blum’s heartfelt tribute to her dear and departed black Lab, Woodrow (the “George Clooney of dogs,” as she nicknames him), pulls at the heartstrings while demonstrating that humans learn way more from their animals than the other way around. In her first nonfiction outing, Jenna chronicles the last year of Woodrow’s life, several other large losses in her life, learning to open herself up to others, and the value of community. Living in a building across the street from the Commonwealth Mal Jenna Blum’s heartfelt tribute to her dear and departed black Lab, Woodrow (the “George Clooney of dogs,” as she nicknames him), pulls at the heartstrings while demonstrating that humans learn way more from their animals than the other way around. In her first nonfiction outing, Jenna chronicles the last year of Woodrow’s life, several other large losses in her life, learning to open herself up to others, and the value of community. Living in a building across the street from the Commonwealth Mall in Boston, Woodrow and Jenna visited the same bench numerous times a day in his later years. While there, they encountered hundreds of people and many dogs, made friends with scores of them, and became a fixture in their neighborhood. Jenna even ran an Instagram account for Woodrow, posting about the individuals they met and the relationships they developed. WOODROW ON THE BENCH is structured around the lessons that Woodrow taught to those who knew him, dovetailing with the last months of his life, and interspersed with stories about people who visited him on the bench over the years. The first chapter, May’s “Never Give In,” addresses Woodrow’s congestive heart failure diagnosis, and Jenna’s refusal to just give up and say goodbye to him. The second chapter, June’s “Ask for Help,” is a deep dive into why Jenna doesn’t like to ask for help and how eventually Woodrow taught her that doing so was not a weakness, but instead was a side effect of having friends. The lessons continue until the final month, December’s “Let Go,” when Jenna realizes that it is time to let Woodrow go and what it is like to actually make such a decision. This last chapter details the extreme grief she experienced, how lonely it was initially, and what happened when she allowed herself to be enveloped by the enormous outpouring of support that she received from everyone who loved them both. Sandwiched in between Woodrow’s life lessons are stories about some of the people Woodrow and Jenna met through the years. These brief chapters tell the tales of those who helped her carry Woodrow across the street or simply cheered them on as they crossed, a sorority that stopped and admired Woodrow, or those who looked after Woodrow at times. These accounts are a fabulous addition to the book, demonstrating the kindness of strangers, the desire to lend a hand, and the importance of community and relationships. While WOODROW ON THE BENCH is a story about a dog, the lessons in it will appeal and apply to everyone, pet lovers or otherwise. Ultimately, the book is about opening up, learning to live and to love, and understanding the true meaning of friendship. Reviewed by Cindy Burnett

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gr8Reader

    One just needs to meet Jenna once - hearing her speak about one of her books, at a book signing or during a Skype session for a book club and you are friends with her. One just needs to follow Jenna on Facebook and know how beloved Woodrow was to Jenna. Although I did not have the chance to meet Woodrow, I felt as though I knew him...from Jenna's many posted pictures and stories of all of their adventures (as well as following him on his own Facebook page). This book was like visiting 2 longtime One just needs to meet Jenna once - hearing her speak about one of her books, at a book signing or during a Skype session for a book club and you are friends with her. One just needs to follow Jenna on Facebook and know how beloved Woodrow was to Jenna. Although I did not have the chance to meet Woodrow, I felt as though I knew him...from Jenna's many posted pictures and stories of all of their adventures (as well as following him on his own Facebook page). This book was like visiting 2 longtime friends. As someone who went to college and was replaced by a dog (Ginger Lee Ginger, a very special poodle who was 5 year old when she joined the family just before I left for school and come Thanksgiving my mom told me "You'll always be my youngest, but you're not my baby anymore") who lived to be 18 years old, dealing with the declining health of a beloved four-legged family member was not alien to me. Anyone who is a "dog person" knows and understands that when one comes into your home, she/he joins your family and becomes an integral part of it whether as a sibling or a child. They crawl into your heart as well. Reading Woodrow on the Bench, I laughed, I cried, my heartstrings were tugged and I got to know Jenna (and Woodrow better). There were times where I was shaking my head because I could relate so much to what Jenna was speaking of. Although she was not living with me at the time, my beloved dog, Beignet (a Bijon Frise) passed within a year of my mother's passing and when I found out, I cried as though she had been in my arms. I felt Jenna's pain during Woodrow's final moments. Woodrow made sure to take care of his Momoo and sent Henry her way to help heal her heart as any good boy would do when he couldn't be there himself. Yes, you will be on a rollercoaster ride of emotions while reading this story, but it is one worth the read if you've ever loved a dog.

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