Dogs, Owners of the City
by Laura Lavayén
Trafford Publishing

"She had lived her entire life surrounded by dogs and she loved to see them walking through the streets... Among them there was no racism, no bigotry, differences didn't matter."

Marcela lives in the fictional city of Santa Catalina with her aunt Asuncion and her little dog, Mimosa. Together they run a hotel and shop, but Marcela's true passion is her love of animals and dogs in particular. Since she was a child, she has ached for all of the stray dogs in Santa Catalina. She and her childhood friend, Sergio, always dreamed of opening their own veterinary clinic to help these animals, and, for her part, Marcela also secretly dreamed of marrying Sergio one day. Except she hasn't seen Sergio in years, and now a stranger in town is staying in her aunt's hotel. Although Samuel, a journalist, may not be too keen on dogs after having been bitten by a pitbull, Marcela soon warms up to the brusque man and shows him around town. But when Samuel leaves abruptly, and Marcela learns that he wrote about Santa Catalina without the residents' permission, often using Marcela's very own words, both Marcela's and Samuel's lives are drastically changed.

Although Lavayén's narrative occasionally suffers from tackling too many ideas and storylines at once, she succeeds in taking a nuanced look at the principles surrounding domestic animals. As Santa Catalina residents and officials struggle to come up with a solution to the many stray dogs and the best way to ensure the wellbeing of both dogs and humans, the compromises that each solution requires are revealed. Indeed, there is no easy answer, but an answer is still needed. Likewise, the challenges Marcela faces in her personal life, from untangling her feelings for Samuel and Sergio to confronting the animosity of her neighbors, are often left unresolved. In the end, Lavayén tells a compelling story of a woman that, despite her best intentions, remains imperfectly human.

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