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Charlie: A Love Story

'Charlie: A Love Story,' a valentine to a special Golden Retriever, is pure magic. From the moment you meet Charlie and Barbara in her garden, you’ll be captivated. Here is a story you’ll never forget. This lovely book is destined to become a classic.”

—Arthur Vanderbilt, award-winning author of Golden Days: Memories of a Golden Retriever

Charlie: A Love Story tells of the beautiful love between Charlie, a Golden Retriever, and me. When Charlie turned eleven and started having some health problems, a gardening journal I’d been keeping quickly became mostly about Charlie. So his story is told in journal form while it is taking place. And because it was not meant for publication, it is an intimate look at an incredible connection between a canine and human. And the story of that connection is told by me, a psychotherapist specializing in relationships.

Charlie’s story is far more than a depiction of his struggles against illness. Those years revealed the depth of his character, the wisdom he had gathered over his lifetime. And those years contained some of Charlie’s and my most memorable times together, the culmination of our connection.

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Charlie defied the odds, lived much longer than anyone thought he would. There was no rational explanation for much of what he pulled through, except that Charlie lived his life with an enthusiasm, determination, and vigor not found in many beings.


Charlie: A Love Story is about devotion, joy, loss, and renewal, about never giving up or giving in. But mostly it’s about a great love affair, the love between Charlie and me.

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'Charlie: A Love Story' is absolutely beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Charlie was truly an astonishing dog. I can think of few people as aware of the capacity for love in other animals as Barbara. She has captured the love of a dog faithfully and fully.”

—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, international bestselling author of When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie about Love

How Charlie: A Love Story Came to Be

Funny thing is, I didn’t start out writing a book about Charlie. Interestingly, Charlie’s story came from a gardening journal.


In the late 1990’s, I began thinking I wanted to write a book, but I had no idea what I wanted the subject to be. I tried writing about the work I do as a psychotherapist, but I found it really hard to put into words what makes my work so rewarding and how special and life-altering the psychotherapeutic process can be. My words just didn’t capture the feelings I’d experienced. One day, a psychotherapist I was seeing suggested I could instead write about my gardening, because that also has always been a love of mine. At the time, I was busy landscaping our property in Malibu.


So, I started keeping a daily journal of what I’d done in the garden and what needed to be done next. Of the watering, weeding, raking. Of the constant designing and redesigning, and then of getting new plants and trees, and then the planting, cultivating, and transplanting. Sometimes I would write about something else, but mostly my journal was about gardening. And that psychotherapist was right: I loved writing about it. I’d started keeping this journal in 2000, and I’d written every day.


Then in 2001, when Charlie was eleven years old, he started having some health problems. Very quickly, my journal entries became more and more about him and less and less about gardening. Writing about Charlie helped me better understand and cope with my feelings about what was happening to him. Yes it was cathartic, but it was more than that. Besides the fact that I just adored him, I was amazed at how Charlie dealt with his health problems. He seemed to have a very deep understanding of what was going on. He was determined and so emotionally strong.

Also, even though I wanted to write about him mostly in the present, I couldn’t help thinking about him as a puppy, particularly because the signs of Charlie’s solid and wise character were there early on. So I found myself writing about him when he was younger too. That also felt good. I just wanted to be with him, think about him, and write about him. Charlie and I were always extremely close, and I knew that our time was limited.


In 2003, my husband David and I decided to take Charlie and Barney (our other Golden Retriever at the time) to San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito for five days to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We all had a great time. While we were sitting on the deck of our cottage after I’d just finished my journal entry for the day, I read David some of my entries having to do with Charlie. David said it sounded as if I had the makings of a book! The more I thought about that, the more I agreed. So, I pulled out all the entries that had to do with Charlie to look at them more closely. Needless to say, since I’d been writing every day for two years, I had lots of those entries.


At first, I was hesitant to turn my journal into a book. Being such a private person, I didn’t know if I’d be comfortable letting others see writing that was so personal and intimate. But my overriding thought then was that it would be Charlie’s story, a tribute to this magnificent dog and, because of the way he handled life, an inspiration to others.

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Once someone has had the good fortune to share a true love affair with a Golden Retriever, one’s life and one’s outlook are never quite the same.

—Betty White

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Barbara Lampert on Conversations LIVE! (March 2012) and Conversations LIVE! (July 2013)

Charlie: A Love Story, a valentine to a special Golden Retriever, is pure magic. From the moment you meet Charlie and Barbara in her garden, you’ll be captivated. Here is a story you’ll never forget. This lovely book is destined to become a classic.

            —Arthur Vanderbilt, award-winning author of Golden Days: Memories of a Golden Retriever

Charlie: A Love Story is absolutely beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Charlie was truly an astonishing dog. I can think of few people as aware of the capacity for love in other animals as Barbara. She has captured the love of a dog faithfully and fully."

             —Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, international bestselling author of When Elephants Weep and

Dogs Never Lie About Love

“As a lover and owner of Golden Retrievers, I loved not only the dog Charlie but had great admiration for the author. She never gave up on her Charlie, and Charlie never gave up on wanting to live. A beautiful Love story even if it is about a woman and her Dog. Any book about a Golden Retriever would be great but this was Exceptional.

—Madonna “yonkers”, reader

This was the most honest, touching book about a relationship with a dog that I've ever read. I loved this book, and even though it made me cry like a baby, I will be reading it again. Highly recommended to anyone who loves or is close to their dog.”

—Vicki Newell, blogger at I'd Rather Be Reading At The Beach

“It is clear that Charlie has carved a very special place in the authors' heart, and it is easy to see why such a dog would do that. Charlie's character brings the book to life, through well-written gentle prose which makes the book a pleasure to read. It is Charlie's strength of constitution and character that really bring home how marvelous a dog Charlie was. Now, through the pages of this book, he can be shared with anyone who reads its words.”

—Alan Williams, blogger at tontowilliams

This was one of the most moving books I've ever read. The love and devotion between author Barbara Lampert & her Golden Retriever Charlie is just amazing. Yes, this book will make you cry, it will make you hug your pet & remember not to take them for granted, and I promise you that you will be glad you read it.”

—Pam Hoerauf, blogger at Pet Blogs United

“What Barbara Lampert has captured in Charlie: A Love Story is the true testament of friendship and resilience. No matter how things might seem for you, this book will inspire you to keep moving forward, making the most of each and every day.”

—Cyrus Webb, host of Conversations LIVE! online radio and publisher of Conversations Magazine

Charlie: A Love Story is one of the most heartwarming books I have read in a long time. Charlie is definitely a very special dog. Yes, Charlie: A Love Story will bring tears to your eyes, but it will also warm your heart. This story is very much a celebration of all dogs. It is also a celebration of the love we share with the animals in our lives.”

—Judy Weber, blogger at The Road To Here

"Charlie had a special glow, energy, strength that most of us wish we had in times of illness, strife and stress… He truly lived his to the fullest. As you read this journal you will hear Charlie’s bark, his voice, see him hug and his affection for Barbara on each and every page of this outstanding memoir, journal and diary to this dog who will live in her heart and her life forever. Told with love, vividly describing and sharing her emotional journey from start to finish, the story embraces the reader from the first page until the very last."

—Fran Lewis, Goodreads, January 2012

“As a dog lover, this wonderful memoir hit all the emotional chords: I laughed, smiled and cried. Charlie: A Love Story is a testament to the beautiful relationship that people can have with their pets, whether it is a dog, a cat, or a rabbit. This wonderful story is a must for all pet owners.

—Kathleen Anderson, blogger at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

“As a dog lover, I was moved not only by the obvious courage of Charlie as he conquered one medical crisis after another, but with the tremendous patience, dedication, and heart revealed by Barbara. Anyone who loves animals or is into gardening will find something in this book to cherish.”

—Ruth Von Blum, reader

“I loved Barbara's writing style. What a great tribute to a dog named Charlie who knew nothing but unconditional love. Charlie: A Love Story is an extraordinary tale about an extraordinary dog.”

—Dorothy Thompson, reviewer and host,

“When looking at pictures of Charlie, you will see in his face not only his strength but also a serenity, a contentment that can only come from being loved and loving back. Barbara's love and admiration for Charlie shone through in the tender, heartfelt way she told his story, which touched every bone in my dog lover's body. It was satisfying to read a "dog" book where the dog is an integral part of the family. That special dog who weaves his/her way into your heart, creating a love that will always be there and will never be forgotten, is what Charlie: A Love Story is all about.

—Phyllis Brunwasser, reader

This is truly an amazing journal, and a quick read, as you won't want to put it down.

—Gail Carolyn, reader

“It has been said that dogs give their owners unconditional love, but in Charlie: A Love Story, there was an equal amount of unconditional love between Charlie and Barbara. If you are a dog lover, then this book is one that should be added to your to-be-read pile. It is a heartwarming journey about a very special relationship between Barbara Lampert and her dog Charlie.”

—Rebecca Camarena, blogger at Dogs Rule Cats Drool

“It is a great relief to read a memoir that does not involve some kind of confession regarding the numerous ways people find to screw up their lives. Charlie: A Love Story is for anyone who has ever loved a dog and been loved in return. Lampert is a psychotherapist, and the best therapy in her life is her Golden Retriever, Charlie. He inspired the author as he overcame numerous health problems, exhibiting a zest for life and courage … This is a short, wonderful read.

—Alan Caruba, Bookviews, February 2012

“Barbara Lampert shares her incredible relationship with Charlie, a Golden Retriever. Their relationship is particularly fascinating, given that Barbara is a therapist and her book began as a journal of gardening. This book is not just for animal lovers, but readers who enjoy heartfelt stories.”

—Kim Adams, blogger at SOS Aloha

“Barbara's journal, about her relationship with her beloved Charlie, captured me right away. Woven in with tales of Charlie and her garden are many profound and inspirational insights about life—and tips for living life fully. I read the book in one sitting—didn't want to put it down. I highly recommend this wonderful book!”

—Jessica Zhukovsky, reader

“As an animal lover I always enjoy reading a story about a remarkable dog. But in this story instead of just reading about a wonderful dog, I was also allowed to glimpse the amazing relationship between Charlie and the human he loved. I really found myself immersed in this story and couldn't put the book down. A heartfelt, touching story. A book that I highly recommend to anyone, animal lovers, or someone just looking for a story about true unconditional love. This book will certainly have a permanent place in my library!”

—Brenda Casto, blogger at WV Stitcher

“Anyone who forms a very strong bond with their pet will immediately identify with the connection between the author and Charlie. The book made me wish I'd kept my own journal about my dog.”

—Bababooey "critters911", reader

Charlie: A Love Story started out as a gardening journal but soon became a day-to-day account of the unique friendship between Barbara and Charlie … Your heartstrings will be pulled by this once-in-a-lifetime relationship.

The Malibu Times, January 26, 2012

“I read Charlie: A Love Story last night at one in the morning! Can't believe it. ... I finished it! It was excellent. I felt Barbara’s emotions & Charlie's soul. It's incredible. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing a remarkable journey of love, life, determination, passion and strength.”

—Sharon Lee, Animal Radio

“I read your book Charlie: A Love Story in one sitting last night. I could not put it down! Brought laughter and tears. A desire to stop time came over me. Brilliant way to share your love story, Barbara. It really made a footprint in my heart.”

—Alana Pashon Case, artist, Facebook

“Just spent the afternoon reading this book (Charlie: A Love Story) … I laughed, cried and loved the story … sooo much … such devotion and love … A great read for sure.”

—Nancy Crider, Facebook

“I loved Charlie’s story and how Barbara was able to express the magical relationship that occurs between precious dogs and their owners/fellow travelers. Barbara conveyed Charlie’s sense of humor and his way of communicating with her. It’s an extraordinary story.”

—Deborah Previte, blogger at The Bookish Dame

Charlie: A Love Story is a must read for anyone who has ever experienced the unspoken and special bond between human being and animal. This beautifully written memoir invites us into the intimacy of Barbara’s relationship with her beloved Golden Retriever Charlie. This is a brave story about love, loss, and healing.”

—Julia Drake, Goodreads

“I loved Charlie, although I must admit that I had to take a breath every few pages. I have sent the book to two of my “Golden” friends, who I know will feel the same way I do. Wonderful book, thanks.”

—Hester A. Cowan, Amazon

“The author had an extraordinary relationship with Charlie. Charlie never broke his tremendous bond with the author. He was one of those dogs that you only meet once in a lifetime if you are lucky. I loved this love story and highly recommend it to any animal lover who has ever had a special relationship with a horse, dog, cat, bird or other kind of animal.”

—Carol Wong, Goodreads

“Excellent book. I will read it again. Loved it. It tugs at your heartstrings and reminds us of our bond with dogs, especially Goldens.”

—Sadiemaya, Amazon

“Lampert’s complete, unreserved, almost childlike love and affection for Charlie is a salient aspect of this book. If you are a dog lover, you enjoy gardening, you enjoy a casual style of writing … and you enjoy a story of deep attachment between human and dog, this is the book for you.”

—Frony Ritter, reviewer, California Association of Marriage Family Therapists

Charlie: A Love Story is a perfect portrait of the emotional depth of love we can feel for our pets, and a testament to the lengths we will go to ensure our pets can stay with us just a few, precious moments longer. Charlie’s story reminded me of the special bond I felt with my own pet and allowed me to experience that special love again.”

—Blogger at Mad About Pets

“I wasn’t expecting to become so emotionally invested in this story. I don’t have any pets, but I do have three small kids, and found it easy to relate to a lot of the author’s emotions in the book. Charlie: A Love Story reminded me how important it is to cherish the days I have with my loved ones, because every single day I get to spend with them is a gift.”

—Jackie, blogger at My Tower of Books

Charlie: A Love Story catalogs Lampert’s fears, joys, and other complex emotions as she serves as a wonderful friend and steward for her beloved Charlie as he transitions from energetic pup to an older senior. Once you start, you won’t be able to put this book down.”

—Dawn A. Marcus, M.D., author, blogger at Fit as Fido

Charlie: A Love Story is Barbara’s ode to her very best friend. Taken directly from her personal journal, the entries invite us into her innermost thoughts. If you love gardening, pets, and memoirs, I recommend this love story. It will touch your heart.”

—Robyn Chausse, blogger at A Ponderance of Things

Charlie: A Love Story is a wonderful book for those who find beauty in most things. Be prepared to laugh and cry as you are swept away on a journey from the heart, because that is exactly what this is. It is brave to put your heart in the open. This is such a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful soul. The work is difficult to put down. Charlie is now in my heart as well, and as you too are caught up in the images of his life, you will find this a difficult story to forget.”

—Leslie Wright, Goodreads and blogger at TicToc

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