Most people find that there are defining moments in life: a child's birth, getting married, even chance encounters can all divide an individual's experiences into "before" and "after." For Bernikow, a journalist and lecturer on women's history, life is divided neatly into "before fate dropped a dog into my world" and "after my first pet store visit." While running in Central Park one afternoon, this dedicated pet-hater came upon a crowd gathered around a police car. She wandered over, saw an abused pooch in the back seat and didn't exactly fall in love, although she soon found herself with leash in hand and an admiring ring of spectators. After a few days with the brown boxer she named Libro (Spanish for "book"), she discovered that they were mismatched but splendid pals, so she set off to chat with fellow dog lovers in the park's fenced-in dog-run area. In its lesser moments, the book can be schmaltzy and forced, as when Bernikow speaks of fate and epiphanies, attributing supernatural powers and uncanny intuition to her dog friend. Fortunately, these passages are tempered by Bernikow's description of trotting Libro around New York, meeting people who normally wouldn't bother to talk with her. In these vignettes, she allows her sense of absurdity to shine through, and the work takes on a cosmopolitan tone: "Many people said they'd grown up with boxers or their grandmothers had boxers, which made me feel rather retro, the kid still in stretch pants on the ski slope while everyone else wore microfiber." Her delightful riff on her dog's life will be snapped up like a delicious treat. Agent, Lisa Bankoff, ICM.