Miss Rosen Presents Monica Holloway
December 3, 2009
“We’re getting a puppy for Christmas,” Wills Price announced to his parents. “Look,” he said as he held up a new book called Golden Retrievers: The Complete Owners Manual, pointing to the puppy on the cover. “That’s probably her.”
“She’s great,” said his dad, Michael. “We’re going to have so much fun!”
“I know,” Wills said with, what his mother, Monica Holloway, described as “the self-assured ease of a White House press secretary.” Seeing his eyes flicker with confidence, Monica knew that getting a puppy was the right thing to do for her son, who had been diagnosed just one year earlier with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The next morning, Monica was surfing the Internet in search of local golden retriever breeders. As she recalled, “On almost every website I read a somber warning. NEVER BUY A DOG FROM A PET STORE.” She discovered article after article detailing the horrors of puppy mills and how dogs were heinously mistreated, sick, and malnourished. “You’re setting your family up for heartbreak,” one article cautioned.
But when no puppies could be secured after six weeks of searching for breeders throughout the entire Northern Hemisphere, Monica made her decision. “What other alternative did I have? At least,” she reasoned, ”I’d go to a fancy store in Bel Air. Surely the Pet Chalet wouldn’t have the audacity to sell puppy-mill puppies to millionaires.”
A blond, brown-eyed golden retriever, who Wills had named Cowboy Carol Lawrence, arrived at a tender eight weeks of age, with a small, throat cough and a blazing red rash that warned of what was to come.
“Cowboy seemed to be on the thin side with the saddest brown eyes,” Monica remembered. “I could’ve called the whole thing off right then, gotten my deposit back, and walked away. I could have waited until after Christmas for a healthier pup from a local breeder, but what would have happened to this little girl? I’d fallen in love with her already. I wouldn’t give up on her because of a pesky cough and a rash. Wills was at home waiting—had his heart set on her. I held her up and looked into her eyes. Yep, there was no way I would ever walk away from this girl.”
For Wills, who was only three years old when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cowboy was more than a pet; she was the bridge between himself and the rest of the world. Cowboy’s very presence in his life empowered Wills to take risks, to engage and socialize, to establish meaningful and intimate connections with the world around him.
Detailing their devotion to each other, Monica Holloway has written the pitch-perfect memoir Cowboy & Wills (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $24), which is truly a love story like no other. Like peanut butter and jelly, Cowboy and Wills are the perfect pair. Where Wills was cautious, fastidious, and tender hearted, Cowboy was rambunctious, affectionate, and impulsive. Soon, the boy who could barely say hello to his kindergarten classmates was going on play dates, learning to swim, and sleeping in his own bed. Through it all, Cowboy was there, dragging him toward other children and giving him the confidence to face his fears.
But love was not enough to save the beautiful Cowboy from her fate, and the cruel reality of puppy mills quickly caught up to them. When Cowboy was diagnosed with canine lupus, Wills and his family realized that now they must be there for her, just as she was for them.
Cowboy & Wills reveals the inexplicable power of love, loss, and salvation. Weaving a mesmerizing tale of hope and despair, anxiety and assurance, trust and doubt, Monica Holloway’s matchless talent for crafting stories of infinite joy and gut-wrenching pain makes her one of the foremost memoirists of our age.
As the critically acclaimed author of Driving With Dead People, perhaps the most the spellbinding, blindsiding, and horrifying memoirs I have ever read, Monica Holloway has known more than her fair share of pain but what impresses me most is her undaunted courage and honesty. I was immediately attracted to Monica’s precise turn of phrase, her unfettered silliness, and her OCD tendencies, but all I can remember from the book was my visceral desire to race through it, to try to escape the brutality of its pages by going faster and faster. I didn’t want to put it down but there were so many times that the tension got the best of me and my response, to out run my fear, was exactly how I deal with it in my own life.
But I only realized this when I spoke with Monica some time later. It had dawned on me that this was the first time I could recollect being unable to put a book down, yet unable to really take in what she was telling me. That it is true, that it happened, that she is still here—alive and kicking—is more than a victory, it is a testament to the power of the human spirit, and of Monica’s quiet resilience and personal strength.
And so when I read Cowboy & Wills, I marvel at the life Monica has lived. Her heart is so big that I smile to myself just thinking about it. As I have said, and will say again, I could only wish every client, every author, every mother, every person could be as beautiful as she—the one, the only, the amazing Monica Holloway.