“This is the one thing that stays the same: my husband got hurt. Everything else changes.”
The opening line of Abigail Thomas’s memoir also serves as a conclusion to her book, a chronicle of her life after it was turned completely upside down. A Three Dog Life is Thomas’s story, about a woman, getting on in her years, who learned to build a new life for herself in the wake of a tragic accident that left her husband, Rich, permanently brain damaged.
The title, as noted in the book, refers to the practice of Australian Aborigines huddling with their dogs for warmth on cold nights, with the coldest night being a “three dog night.” Before the accident, and for a while after, Thomas and her husband only had one dog, Harry. Thomas recounts that Rich was struck by a car while chasing after Harry, who had run into the road. (She also notes the irony that she finds comfort in the very animal who was the cause of this great tragedy.) In reconfiguring her life, she makes room for two more dogs, Rosie and Carolina Bones, who join her family quite naturally, as life would have it. While Thomas has children living apart from her, and her husband residing in the hospital nearby, she finds herself continuously comforted by these dogs, living a three dog life.