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From the time she is nine years old and discovers a “Private Way” full of the wonderful and creepy creatures of the wild–spiders, deer, moles, chipmunks, and foxes–Lauren Slater finds in animals a refuge from the troubled life of her suburban home. As she matures, her bond with animals–raccoons, horses, swans, cats, and, primarily, dogs–strengthens and grows more complex and compelling. They offer relief from the pain of her mother’s mental illness, from a foster family where she feels not at all at home, from her own periodic bouts with depression. As a psychologist, a reporter, an amateur naturalist, and, above all, an enormously gifted writer, Lauren Slater draws us into the stories of her love for the animals that are so much more to her than pets.