Chapters 1-3 Summary
Garth Stein’s novel The Art of Racing in the Rain was first published in 2008 and has remained on several best-seller lists ever since. The story is narrated by a mixbreed dog, Enzo. In the first pages, he is looking forward to his death because he believes that after his death he will be reborn as a human. While the dog waits for this transformation, he enjoys observing the humans around him.
As the story opens, Enzo is physically falling apart. His joints stiffen up to the point where he can hardly move. He is in constant pain and is working on a plan to communicate to his owner, Denny, that it just might be time for that final one-way trip to the vet’s office. Enzo knows this is a difficult decision for Denny to make, so he is attempting to encourage his owner by exaggerating some of his ailments. For example, although Enzo knows he can move, sometimes he does not respond to Denny’s calls. When Denny comes home from work, there are times when all Enzo can do is barely wag his tail.
Enzo is not worried about death because he saw a documentary on television that clearly stated that dogs return to this world as humans after they die. This accounts for the close relationship between dogs and people. In the meanwhile, as Enzo contemplates his death, he often loses himself to one of his favorite pastimes: watching car races on television. Denny races cars, and Enzo considers his owner one of the best drivers. Denny is especially gifted when it comes to racing in the rain. Whereas other cars racing on the wet track will skid, Denny drives as if his car is magically void of the raindrops.
Denny and Enzo live in Seattle with Zoe, Denny’s daughter. Denny’s wife, Eve, died after a long illness. Denny works in an auto shop when he is not competing in races. When he is racing, he is gone for days; then he returns, often with trophies.
Enzo was born on a farm on the eastern side of the state of Washington. His mother was a Labrador Retriever. Denny was told that Enzo’s father was a shepherd-poodle mix, but Enzo likes to think that his father was the terrier who was the smartest and the biggest bully on the farm. The first view Enzo had of Denny was when he was a puppy. Denny picked Enzo up in his hands and lifted the dog out from the rest of the litter. Enzo remembers thinking that Denny, with his scruffy beard, looked wiry like a terrier.
Enzo loves to listen to Denny talk...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapters 4-6 Summary
When Enzo, as a puppy, first came home with Denny, they lived in an apartment in the Leschi neighborhood of Seattle. Enzo did not like the apartment because it felt confining, especially because he was used to having access to the open fields of the farm where he was born. But there was a nice view of Lake Washington from the window. During their first year together, Enzo’s relationship with Denny grew nicely. As a matter of fact, it grew so well that Enzo questioned why Denny eventually brought a girlfriend home. Her name was Eve, and the first thing Enzo noticed about her was that she smelled sweet. The other thing Enzo immediately realized was that he was losing some of Denny’s attention. Denny seemed to always want to be “pulling” on Eve, “tugging, and biting lips.” Eve tried to assure Enzo that she would not come between him and Denny. But Enzo realized that she had already partially done that.
The trouble for dogs, Enzo states, is that they have no thumbs. Eve had thumbs and could do so many more interesting things than he could. Even monkeys have thumbs, and according to Enzo, monkeys are not even that smart. Surely they are not as intelligent as dogs are. Yet they were given the thumb advantage. The closest dogs have to thumbs are dew claws, the extra nail that hangs above each paw. Enzo thinks the dew claws should have evolved into thumbs, but unfortunately, humans often think the dew claws are not worth anything and usually have the vet cut them off when dogs are mere puppies.
After Eve moved in, she began making to-do lists for Denny that kept him busy whenever he was not at work or attending a race. Enzo believes Denny did these chores more than willingly because of the reward he received later in the day when he and Eve retired to the romping they did in bed.
After Denny and Eve were married, Enzo noticed Eve’s belly growing larger. Enzo also witnessed all the affection Eve lavished on that belly bump. She sang to it, talked to it, danced with it. She even allowed Enzo to nuzzle up to it so he could feel the baby moving inside.
Close to when the baby was due, Denny was given the chance of a lifetime to become part of a team scheduled to compete in an endurance car race at Daytona. Unfortunately, right before the race, Eve’s labor pains started. She told Denny to go, but later she regretted that Denny was not there when Zoe was born. But Enzo was there. Eve let Enzo stay...
(The entire section is 529 words.)
Chapters 7-9 Summary
When Zoe was a few months old, Eve put her in daycare and returned to her job at a department store. Denny was working all day at the auto parts store, so Enzo was left alone for the first time. Denny used to have a job that allowed him to work at home. When Eve was pregnant, she stayed at home, too. But with the new routine everyone was gone and Enzo felt abandoned. His days felt long, and all he could do was nap or stare out the windows. He really hated it.
Then one day, Denny forgot to turn off the television set before he left, and Enzo found one of the joys of his life. He watched television. The first day, he was entertained and educated by the Weather Channel. He learned about hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other exciting natural disasters. Time passed much more quickly. When Denny returned, he was surprised at how much Enzo appeared to enjoy watching the TV screen. So he decided from that day forward to leave the television on for Enzo, to entertain him while the rest of the family was gone. Enzo’s favorite station was the Speed Channel, which only showed car racing.
One day, Denny came home with a photograph that made Eve cry. Enzo was not sure why she did this. He looked at the picture, but it had little effect on him. He did not realize it was a photo of their new house. Shortly afterward, everything, including Enzo’s bed, was packed and moved to the new place. When things were set, Denny took Enzo into the new backyard, where they played one of Enzo’s favorite games, fetch. After they put Zoe to bed that first night in their new home, Enzo watched as Denny and Eve rolled around naked, clutching one another, in each of the house’s rooms.
Another incident in Enzo’s life was less exciting. One day much later, when Eve bent down to lower Enzo’s food dish to the floor, Enzo sniffed Eve’s ear. He smelled something he did not like. The smell reminded him of something rotten, and it appeared to be growing inside Eve’s head. He wished he had a tongue that allowed him to form words because he regretted that he was unable to warn her. Denny would eventually take Eve to see a doctor, and expensive and awkward machines would finally diagnose the problem. But that would not happen for a long time. People thought those machines were sophisticated, but Enzo knew that if he had the gift of human language, he could have told them much sooner than the machines discovered it.
(The entire section is 672 words.)
Chapters 10-12 Summary
Enzo is locked in the house when Eve leaves with Zoe. Denny is out of town for a race. Enzo does not panic. He is a dog, and a dog knows how to fast, how to conserve himself until he finds food. Enzo says that when God refused to give dogs thumbs, he gave dogs the ability to go for long periods of time without nourishment. If only God had given Enzo a thumb, he thinks, he could have opened the pantry door and torn open the bag of kibble. Instead, Enzo searches the floor for fallen food and drinks water out of the toilet bowl.
Enzo waits three days before Denny comes home. On the third day, Enzo thinks he starts hallucinating. When he goes into Zoe’s room, he sees one of her stuffed animals dancing. It is a zebra Denny’s parents sent to Zoe as a gift. After dancing, the zebra begins abusing the other toys before ripping open his own seams and pulling out his insides. Enzo cannot believe what he has seen.
When Denny returns home, he discovers that Eve left Enzo behind for three days. He yells at her, saying that Enzo could have died. Eve says she was sick and was not thinking. Then Zoe comes out of her room in tears. When Denny and Eve see the mess in her room, they curse Enzo for the ruined toys. Enzo takes their harassment. He is unable to explain that it was all the zebra’s fault.
Later that night, Enzo crawls up to Denny, who is sitting on the back porch. Enzo is unsure if Denny is still angry with him. Then he notices that Denny is drinking some hard liquor and that his mood is more relaxed. Denny apologizes to Enzo for having yelled at him. Enzo places his head in Denny’s lap. Then Denny announces that he won the race he had been attending, and he was offered a great position on a professional team. The only problem is that Denny would have to be away from Enzo, Eve, and Zoe for six months at a time. Denny asks Enzo if he should do this. Enzo, of course, cannot tell him, but he thinks that although it might be great for Denny, it would be very difficult for the rest of them. Denny senses this, and he concludes that he cannot take the position. Denny looks into Enzo’s eyes and tells him that sometimes he thinks Enzo completely understands him. He says that he feels like Enzo has a person inside of him. Enzo silently replies that he does.
Eve and Denny believe that Eve merely had the flu. Enzo thinks they feel more comfortable with that conclusion. But Eve does not get better. Her...
(The entire section is 598 words.)
Chapters 13-15 Summary
Enzo offers a story that concerns crows. He does not like the birds; he thinks they are sneaky and jealous of their cousins, the regal ravens. Enzo is fascinated and somewhat pleased when the crows make a very poor decision one day in Enzo’s backyard.
Enzo has spent a lot of time studying crows. He knows how clever they are in scavenging for food. They can open garbage cans, tear through cellophane bags, and steal plastic grocery bags from off the porch. This is exactly what a flock of crows does this day.
Eve goes shopping and returns with so many bags that she cannot carry all of them into the house at the same time. She brings them from the car to the porch, then she takes them from the porch to the kitchen. As Enzo sees it, Eve forgets one of the bags on the porch. She thinks all the groceries have been brought into the house and put away, so she goes upstairs to take a bath.
It does not take long for the crows to notice the forgotten plastic bag. They slowly gather in the yard. The back door is closed and locked, so Enzo cannot get outside. He is forced to watch the birds as they hop nearer to the porch, jump onto the steps, and eventually start attacking the bag. There are flapping wings and loud cries as more and more birds gather over their prize. But then Enzo notices that there is something strange about the contents of this particular bag, and the birds who had arrived first are losing interest in what they found. Some even fly to the neighbor’s fountain to drink water. When Enzo gets a closer look, he bursts out laughing to himself. The bag is not filled with groceries, as he and the crows had thought. It is the bag Denny had left on the porch after cleaning up Enzo’s droppings. The crows were tricked into eating doggy poop.
On a different note, Enzo recalls how Eve’s headaches are increasing in intensity, which causes tension to build up in the family. The tension comes to a head one night at dinner after Denny announces that he has been asked to join a new racing circuit, which means he will be gone more often. Eve’s fear of being alone grows. Enzo can smell it. Enzo relates how humans have no idea how much their scents change with their emotions. Every emotion can be detected by a dog’s nose. So at dinner, when Eve yells at Zoe to eat her chicken nuggets and Zoe refuses, Enzo can smell Eve’s anger and frustration. Eve does not want to fix Zoe a new meal even though Denny...
(The entire section is 707 words.)
Chapters 16-18 Summary
Denny has a successful stretch of races, and Eve has a period of good health. The family’s tensions are at least temporarily toned down. In the place of yelling and arguing, Enzo hears laughter and loves it. He also loves that big names from the sports racing world are showing up for dinner. Enzo enjoys listening to the racers’ conversations. He is also proud of Zoe, who has developed her communication skills and can repeat some of her dad’s most frequently spoken philosophies about car racing. Because Enzo cannot talk, he lives vicariously through Zoe; she often says what he thinks he would say if he had the chance.
Denny’s lucky streak comes to an end, however, when another car side-swipes his in one of the bigger races of the season. If he had placed high in that competition, he had a chance to win rookie of the year. Although Denny finishes that race, his car is so damaged that he comes in dead last.
Besides car racing, there is something else on Denny’s and Eve’s minds. One summer night when the family is sitting outside on the back porch, Enzo overhears Denny and Eve talking. Eve feels disappointed that Denny has to be gone so often. She says something about Denny’s being gone when she is ovulating. Denny pats her knee and says, maybe next time. Then they tease about keeping baby-makers in the refrigerator. Enzo senses their disappointment, but their peace of mind seems to return when their attention turns to Zoe, who is soaking wet as she runs through the spray of the backyard sprinkler. Enzo is sure that for this moment they are all experiencing pure joy.
The joy is broken, though, when an accident occurs during a family hike. Enzo is in heaven at first. He enjoys the scents of the old forest—the fallen evergreen needles, the rotting but fertile soil. He takes his time, identifying each individual smell on the forest floor. Then he bursts into a run through the bushes, chasing chipmunks or whatever else is brave enough to rear its head.
The family is heading for what is called Slippery Slabs, giant slanted slabs of rock moistened by a spreading stream. When they reach the spot, Eve stands at the top of the slope and Denny stands at the bottom. Eve holds Zoe in position and then lets the young girl slide down the face of the smooth, moist rock face. Denny catches his daughter at the bottom and carries her back to her mother. They repeat this for hours.
But one time...
(The entire section is 526 words.)
Chapters 19-22 Summary
Mike, Denny’s coworker, appears in the parking lot at the hospital where Enzo is sitting with Denny. Enzo hears Denny tell Mike that there is some kind of mass growing inside Eve’s head. No one will know if it is a tumor until they go inside, Denny says. Denny does not know how long Eve will be in the hospital, but makes plans for Mike to take care of Enzo until he finds out.
When Enzo arrives at Mike’s house, Mike’s roommate, Tony, takes the stuffed dog Enzo likes to sleep with and puts it into the washing machine. Enzo feels humiliated and wants to hate Tony for defiling his toy dog. Of course, Enzo also feels a little embarrassed that he still sleeps with the stuffed animal, the first toy Denny bought him as a puppy. He watches his favorite toy whirling around and around in the dryer, not knowing for sure how he will feel about the new smells of soap and water. But when Tony returns the stuffed dog to him, Enzo is surprisingly pleased. It smells good.
Now Enzo is at Mike and Tony’s, Eve is in the hospital, and Zoe is at her grandparent’s. Enzo feels depressed because the family has been so badly torn apart. Even when Denny takes Enzo back home, the family does not feel right. Denny does everything differently from how Eve used to do things. Denny is not even like he used to be before Eve. For instance, Enzo is no longer taken on walks or allowed to romp at the dog park. They rarely go out, and Denny never once orders pizza for dinner.
Eve’s parents note the strain on Denny’s face and offer to take Zoe for the weekend to give Denny a break. So the family members return to being just Enzo and Denny. But even now things are not the same. Certainly they are not like they had been in the beginning when it was just the two of them. But Denny does take Enzo for a few runs, and they even visit the dog park once. But while they are there, some fierce dog continues to threaten to eat Enzo, so he has to stick close to Denny’s side.
When Labor Day rolls around, Eve is still not home. The day after the holiday weekend, Zoe is scheduled to start kindergarten. Enzo and Denny walk Zoe to the bus. While they wait, Zoe informs her father that he has to kiss her before the bus comes. She does not want any of her friends to see them. After the bus leaves, a man who had been standing next to Denny asks if Zoe is Denny’s first child. Then the man says that watching the first leave for school is...
(The entire section is 477 words.)
Chapters 23-24 Summary
When Eve is released from the hospital, Denny discusses with Eve’s parents, Maxwell and Trish, where Eve should stay. Denny reluctantly gives in to Eve’s parents’ request to take care of their daughter. Eve will need a nurse to be on hand but Denny has to work during the day. Maxwell and Trish are retired, so they can be at home with Eve, and they can afford the nursing care. Once Denny relents, Maxwell and Trish put pressure on Denny to also allow them to care for Zoe. At first, Denny resists. Then he realizes that maybe it would be best for Eve to have Zoe near her all day.
A few days later, Denny takes Zoe and Enzo to his in-law’s home. A hospital bed has been set up in the living room. Then Eve arrives. This is the first time that Enzo has seen Eve since the hiking accident. Her head is covered in a knitted cap. She has lost a lot of weight and the color of her skin has grayed. When Eve finally notices Enzo and calls him to her, Enzo feels unsure of how to greet her. Eve says she does not blame him for his reluctance to draw near. Eve tells him she does not like the way she looks either.
Later when Eve’s parents are talking to Denny, they insinuate that Eve only has a short time to live. The doctor, they remind Denny, told them Eve might have only six months left. Denny refuses to listen to this. He insists that Eve will get well and eventually come home. Eve’s parents think Denny is being unrealistic. They wanted Zoe to stay with them because these might be the last few months she would share with her mother.
Denny must approach Zoe on the subject of staying with her grandparents. He has told his in-laws that the decision as to where she will stay will be up to Zoe. Eve’s parents find this very disturbing, to allow a five-year-old to make such an important decision. Denny presents the idea in a way that allows Zoe to think that she would stay with her mother until Eve recovers. Then they will all be together again. As Enzo witnesses the love between Denny and Zoe, he questions whether he could ever understand all the intricate complications involved in being human.
As night approaches, Denny insists on staying at his in-laws’ home, too. If Eve and Zoe are going to be living there, he does not think he should go to his own house. But Eve tells him to go home. She says she does not want him to be constantly reminded of how sick she is. She wants him to remember her as she was...
(The entire section is 596 words.)
Chapters 25-26 Summary
In the middle of winter, Enzo, Denny, and Zoe join some of Eve’s extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and they all travel up into the mountains for a week of skiing and snowshoeing. While there, the family members embrace Denny, Zoe, and even Enzo, but Enzo questions why they had to wait for a family crisis to do so. Although Enzo had been acquainted with them, this is the first time the extended family has demonstrated such an interest in Denny’s family.
The snow sports are fun, but Enzo is not a fan of cold weather. But he has to admit that one of his favorite times is when the family builds a fire outside after dinner. The nights are crisp and the stars are incredible, but Enzo most enjoys the blaze from the fire. As he warms himself near the flames, he watches Denny to see how he communicates with Eve’s family. Denny is cordial, but Enzo can tell that his owner’s mind was distracted as he worries about Eve. Enzo knows that Denny is especially unaware of one of the teenage cousins who is obviously flirting with him.
Her name is Annika, and she is fifteen. Enzo watches as Annika maneuvers herself so that she always sits near Denny at the dinner table, always makes sure she sits next to him in the car when he goes with the family on side excursions, and laughs at all of Denny’s jokes. Enzo is unsurprised when, after Denny tells the family he is going to leave a day early to avoid a storm that is forecasted to hit the area, Annika comes up with an excuse to ask Denny for a ride. She suddenly has a school project that must be done and the extra day will allow her to finish it. She asks Denny for a ride to Seattle. Denny does not realize, as Enzo does, that this girl has developed a huge crush on him, so he gave in.
The trip across the pass is extremely challenging, even for such a good driver as Denny is. At the lower levels, ice coats both the car and the pavement. The car is constantly skidding. At the higher elevations, the ice turns to a heavy snow that requires that Denny put chains on the tires. The traffic is backed up and moves slowly. Denny calls the family members still at the lodge and asks them to find a motel that might still have rooms available, but all the rooms have already been taken. Denny has no choice but to push on.
The drive takes twice as long as it did when the roads were dry. While Denny is still driving across Seattle, Annika calls her parents to say that...
(The entire section is 769 words.)
Chapters 27-29 Summary
Eve’s doctors had predicted that she would live another six months at most. After eight months pass and Eve is still alive, she decides to have a party. Enzo looks around at the people who have come. Everyone seems happy, or at least they pretend too be. Even Zoe seems to be in a good mood—funnier than Enzo has seen her in months.
As they are about to leave, Enzo hears Denny tell Eve how much he loves her and how much he wants her to come home. Eve responds by telling him that she wants to go home and one day will. When Denny goes to say goodnight to Zoe, Eve talks to Enzo. She tells him that she had been wrong to stay at her parents’ home all this time. She should have been with Denny. She also thanks Enzo for staying with her that first night after she got out of the hospital. She said that she had been afraid of death that night. Now she no longer fears death. She looks at death differently now. She tells Enzo that death is not the end.
On the way home, Enzo thinks about what Eve told him about death. Her feelings have infected him. He feels proud of the way Eve is able to embrace everything about life, which includes death. He looks out at the lights of Seattle and sees more beauty than he ever noticed before. Later while at home and dreaming, Enzo sees Eve’s soul leave her body. Enzo knows Eve is dead.
The next morning when Enzo awakens, he senses that Denny has not yet heard the news. Denny takes Enzo out to a dog park and plays fetch with him. At one point, Denny’s cell phone rings and he answers it. After Denny disconnects, he puts his head down and cries. Even though Enzo knew about Eve’s death from his dream, seeing Denny react makes it feel more real. Enzo realizes that he cannot stand all the human emotions, so he runs away. He runs into the thickets where the land is more wild. When he sees a squirrel, he pounces on it and tears it apart. Enzo needs to be a dog, to act like a dog, to forget all his thoughts about humans. After devouring the squirrel, Enzo falls asleep. Eventually Denny finds him and scolds him for running away.
At Eve’s parents’ house, Denny says his final farewell to Eve. Then as he waits for Zoe to pack her things so he can take her home, Eve’s parents approach him. They ask Denny to consider allowing Zoe to stay with them. They have the time and wealth to raise her, they say. Because they have been raising Zoe for the past eight months, they feel...
(The entire section is 513 words.)
Chapters 30-32 Summary
Denny offers to let Zoe stay home from school, but she insists on going. After Denny takes Zoe to school, he and Enzo go to a cafe for coffee and a sweet roll. They sit at an outside table and are soon joined by a man that Enzo describes as being not fat but very round. The man is a customer at the auto shop where Denny works, and he is a lawyer.
The man reads the papers Eve’s parents gave Denny, which state that they are suing Denny for custody of Zoe. When Denny tells the attorney that his in-laws also said that Eve had requested that Zoe live with them, the lawyer says that it makes no difference what might have been said or even what Eve might have wanted. The surviving parent is the only one who has a right to the custody of the children, so long as Denny does not have a criminal record or other extenuating circumstances that might make him incapable of raising a child. Denny tells the lawyer that his record is clean. The man says that in-laws are educated and have a lot of money, but they have no legal rights. Then the lawyer complains that grandparents are nothing but trouble. None of them think their own children are good parents. They want to raise the grandchildren so they can make reparations for their own earlier mistakes.
The man also tells Denny that he will have to pay the legal fees; he will not represent him in court in exchange for free auto care. He asks if Denny has money. Denny says he will get it. Then the lawyer tells Denny that he has nothing to worry about. The procedure will be simple, and he will contact the in-laws’ attorney. He suggests that Denny be cordial with Eve’s parents and not get angry with them. Denny will win full custody and has nothing to fear.
After the meeting, Denny takes Enzo to work with him. Enzo does not often go with him, but he has been there enough times to know most of the mechanics and other people who work with Denny. Enzo usually feels comfortable there. The men are friendly and do not mind having him around. However, on that day, Enzo feels nervous. He cannot sit still. Normally, he says, a dog does not ponder what might happen in the future, as humans do. The future is what makes most humans feel anxious: they worry about what might or might not happen next. A dog, in contrast, thinks only about what appears in the moment. A dog is content and fully focused on the present. But there is something in the air that day that Enzo can feel. He does not...
(The entire section is 574 words.)
Chapters 33-35 Summary
Enzo admits that he does not witness much of the legal proceedings regarding the custody of Zoe and the accusation against Denny of rape. He is a dog, and dogs are not allowed inside the police station or the courtroom. However, Enzo can tell readers that the legal issues take three years to resolve, and during this time time, Eve’s parents seem determined to break Denny financially and emotionally. The legal costs are beyond Denny’s ability to make money. He is confined to the state of Washington because of the criminal charges against him, so he can no longer take on any of the lucrative side jobs that were located in other states. And because he is charged with the rape of an underage child, he is denied all rights to visit Zoe.
Because Enzo is not allowed inside the court, he has to use his imagination to tell the story of those three years. He has the habit of watching television and is a big fan of legal shows such as Law & Order and movies like Paul Newman’s The Verdict, so he is able to fill in the gaps of information he is not privy to. He admits that all the facts might be less than accurate, but his intent is to portray the story as honestly as possible.
According to Enzo, Denny is taken to the police station, where he sits in a room all by himself until his lawyer, Mark Fein, arrives. Mark storms into the station and demands action. Then Mark turns on Denny and asks him if there is any truth to the accusations that he is a pedophile and a rapist. Denny tells Mark the girl is lying. Mark points out that the timing of these accusations is suspicious. If Denny is proven guilty of the rape, Eve’s parents will easily win their case. Mark suspects that the family is manipulating the circumstances in their favor.
Mark bails Denny out of jail and tells him not to go near Eve’s parents’ house to try to see Zoe. He warns Denny that it is as if he is stuck in quicksand. The worst thing a person can do in that situation is move. Mark says the best thing Denny can do is allow him to make all the movements so he can rescue Denny out of this legal mess.
When Denny comes home that day, Enzo watches him go straight for a bottle of liquor. This makes Enzo feel terribly disappointed in his owner. That everything seems to be going against Denny is not an excuse to give up and drown his feelings in booze, Enzo thinks. Enzo barks at Denny and refuses to lie down at his feet....
(The entire section is 511 words.)
Chapters 36-38 Summary
A few days after Eve’s death, Denny takes Enzo for a long walk. Enzo thinks Denny is seeking change because he bypasses his jeans and instead wears a nice pair of dark slacks. They go to one of their favorite parks, and Denny takes Enzo off the leash and lets him run around. After that park, they walk on farther to a park Enzo has never been to before. This one is wilder than the first, and Enzo runs through briars up and down the hills. Then to Enzo’s surprise, Denny does not turn back to go home. Instead he continues walking until they reach Lake View Cemetery. Enzo notices a group of people huddled together. Everyone is dressed in black. Then he sees Zoe.
When he and Denny draw closer to the crowd, Eve’s father and two of Eve’s brothers come forward and tell Denny that he is not welcome at Eve’s burial ceremony. Eve’s father, Maxwell, tells Denny that he was never good with Eve. And now that Annika has accused him of rape, Denny is also not good for Zoe. Maxwell threatens to call the police if Denny does not leave. When Zoe runs up to greet her father, Eve’s mother, Trish, comes over and tells Denny she understands why he is there, but it is best that he leave. There is always room for compromise, Trish tells Denny. But Denny insists he will never compromise when it comes to Zoe.
Zoe notices that her father has tears in his eyes. She tells him it is all right to cry because that helps make the hurt go away. Zoe then notices Enzo and cries out for him. Enzo feels very impressed that Zoe wants to pay attention to him. After Denny tells Zoe she will have to stay with her grandparents for a while so he can take care of some business, he and Enzo move away from the crowd. They wait until everyone leaves before they go back to the grave and say farewell to Eve.
The next morning, Enzo can barely move. His hip joints are so swollen it feels like his bones are fused together. Denny has to take Enzo to the doctor’s office, where he is diagnosed with degenerative arthritis. There is little the vet can do for Enzo except give him a drug that will help relieve some of the swelling and pain. The ailment will not get better, the doctor says. Enzo resigns himself to his fate. For the remaining years of his life, he will be in constant pain.
Several months go by without Denny’s being able to see Zoe. Eve’s parents (whom Enzo refers to now as the Evil Twins) obtain a temporary restraining order...
(The entire section is 602 words.)
Chapters 39-40 Summary
Zoe builds a fortress of stuffed animals around Enzo as he naps during a visit one day. There are hundreds of them—teddy bears, giraffes, sharks, dogs, cats, and birds. Enzo finds this amusing and touching. He loves that Zoe includes him in her games. He falls back to sleep feeling content. But then in the middle of the night he awakens and finds the infamous zebra on top of the heap and staring down at him. It is not the same one Enzo had watched tear itself apart, but it is its duplicate. Enzo knows for sure that the demon has returned. Enzo can hardly move or sleep for the rest of that night knowing that the monster zebra is watching him. Enzo wonders, if it were capable of dismembering itself, what might it do to him?
While Enzo visits Zoe, he overhears many conversations between Eve’s parents. As he listens, he grows to liking them less and less for all the harm they are doing to Denny. Although Enzo does not have the power to talk back to them and tell them what he thinks of them, he nonetheless devises a scheme to show what he feels about them. In the kitchen one night, Maxwell offers Enzo one of the hot peppers that Maxwell loves to eat. Enzo had foolishly accepted one of those peppers at an earlier time, when Eve was still alive. It had burned his stomach and disturbed his bowels. But when Maxwell offers Enzo a pepper this time, Enzo takes it knowingly. Later that evening, when Maxwell opens the back door and tells Enzo to go out into the backyard and do his business, Enzo refuses to move. Instead, he squats down near Maxwell’s feet and leaves a gooey mess.
Enzo then trots up to Zoe’s room and snuggles into the space inside the ring of stuffed animals. He feels proud of what he has done. He then looks at the zebra and softly growls at it. Enzo knows the demon completely understands what he just did at Maxwell’s feet. This act of revenge, Enzo thinks, should be a sign of his power so the demon zebra should never again mess with him.
At the end of summer, Denny finally has his day in court concerning the custody of Zoe. Although not everything is settled, Mark Fein wins visitation rights for Denny and Zoe. Denny will have Zoe every other weekend. When Denny returns from court that day, to Enzo’s surprise, he brings Zoe with him.
While she is home, Zoe wants to know if her father is still working in Europe as he had told her. Denny says he is not; he will now be home. Zoe asks if...
(The entire section is 580 words.)
Chapters 41-45 Summary
Time drags on as Denny waits for his court date. In the meantime, he enjoys his weekend visits with Zoe. On one weekend, he takes Zoe and Enzo to a go-cart park. Enzo watches Denny and Zoe race. At one point, the young man who runs the park suggests that Denny challenge Zoe to a race. The man says that his money is on Zoe winning. He thinks she has the marks of a good racer. Denny agrees, and the race is on. Denny gives Zoe a small advantage in the beginning, but when it comes time to pass her, Zoe knows how to block him out. She maneuvers her vehicle like a pro and beats him. Denny feels proud of her. He knows now that his daughter is quicker and smarter than he is. That gives him the energy he needs to fuel his cause to win her back.
As the days drag on, Mark Fein becomes impatient with Denny’s plan to pay him. Denny gives the man every extra cent he has, but that is not enough to pay the man in full. Denny asks for Mark’s patience, but the lawyer tells Denny he has other people to pay. If Denny cannot come up with the money, Mark will have to quit. Denny finally wins an extension of thirty days, but that is all Mark is willing to offer.
The next move Mark makes is to get an offer from Eve’s parents that they will drop the criminal charges if Denny quits fighting for Zoe. Mark even points out that it might be best for Zoe if she stays with her grandparents. It would free Denny to take on extra jobs so he can make more money. Because the grandparents are retired and have access to a lot of money, Zoe would have a stable home as well as a free education. But Denny refuses to even think about it. He will fight until he cannot fight any further, although he already has no money. The fight has taken all the money he had. He is forced to sell his house.
Denny and Enzo move into a small apartment in the Capitol Hill district. Enzo hates it. The place smells like chemicals and the noise of the traffic drives him crazy. On top of everything, there is no more cable television.
Much of the money Denny receives from the house goes to Mark Fein. Then shortly afterward Fein receives an appointment as a judge. This means Denny has to hire a new lawyer, and the job falls to a man named Lawrence. Not much time passes after this new arrangement when Eve’s parents, Maxwell and Trish, think up a new tactic to steal Denny’s money. They sue him for child support.
In reaction to this new move by the...
(The entire section is 534 words.)
Chapters 46-49 Summary
Enzo does not feel very happy the following winter. He is often left alone, and without television to distract him, the days are exceptionally long. He begins to feel tired of his body and the limitations of being a dog. Enzo believes that this mental state led to the accident.
He and Denny are walking home from a park. Denny allows Enzo to walk along the streets toward home without his leash on. Enzo becomes distracted and does not notice when Denny crosses the street. So when Denny calls to him, Enzo sees his owner in the distance and begins walking toward him; he does not realize there is traffic. A young driver who is not used to paying close attention to the sides of the road is coming down the street, and they collide.
Denny rushes Enzo to the doctor’s office. Enzo has a cracked pelvis, but the doctor tells Denny it will heal. Then when Denny tries to pay for the doctor’s services, his credit card is denied. He offers another card, with the same results. He gives the attendant his debit card but that does not work either. Finally Denny pulls out some cash and asks if that will hold his bill until he can pay the remaining debt. The doctor agrees to the deal.
By the time they get home, Denny feels depressed. He tells Enzo he cannot go on; Eve’s parents have beaten him. Enzo is shocked to hear Denny talk like this; he wonders how his owner could be saying these things. Denny had been the one to teach Enzo never to give up. But that night Denny just keeps saying that he had tried. He had done his best.
Two weeks later, Denny is looking sickly and depressed as he takes Enzo over to his friends’ house. Mike and Tony agree with Denny that he is making the right decision, but Enzo is not sure what that decision is. The more he listens to the conversation, the better he is able to comprehend that Denny is about to give up Zoe. Tony and Mike tell Denny that he is young and needs to get back into racing. Eve’s parents will be good to Zoe. And Denny will not have a criminal record.
Denny had brought some legal papers with him. He sits down at the table and asks for a pen. Enzo cannot believe what he is seeing. Enzo cannot speak, so he does the next best thing he can think of. He grabs the papers in his mouth and runs. All three men chase him, but Enzo will not let any of them take the papers from him. When he spies an open window, Enzo dives through it to the yard. He then drops the...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapters 50-52 Summary
Denny has a teaching job at a nearby driving school, and one day while he and Enzo are there, the owner of the school asks Denny to do him a favor. He mentions Luca Pantoni and asks if Denny remembers him. Denny says he definitely remembers Luca, whom he had over to dinner while Eve was still alive. Don then told Denny that Luca is there and wants to see the racetrack. When Denny agrees to show it, Luca asks Denny if he would like to drive his Ferrari F430. Denny is shocked. The Ferrari is worth almost $200,000 and can attain speeds around 190mph. Of course he wants to drive it. Denny’s students watch, and as he whizzes around the track, they cannot believe how fast he is going.
After Denny successfully takes Luca around several times, the car owner, who works for Ferrari in Italy, offers Denny a job. Denny thinks maybe Luca wants him to teach classes. But Luca quickly explains that he wants more than that from Denny: he wants Denny to test drive Ferrari vehicles. When Denny asks Luca why he has chosen him, Luca says that Denny is an excellent driver but there is more to it that he will not divulge until Denny showed up in Italy, having accepted Luca’s offer. Denny explains that he is at present unable to leave the country. Luca says that he knows what Denny is going through, but as soon as everything is cleared up, the job in Italy will be his.
Months drag by after that. Enzo turns ten, and his health does not improve. His body hurts every time he moves. Denny watches over Enzo tenderly and carefully. He even comes home for lunch to take Enzo outside. One day when he comes home, Denny walks Enzo down the street. They near a café and they both recognize Annika sitting outside with a friend. Enzo wants to pull away, but Denny tells him it is all right. He has something to say to the girl.
Denny first tells Annika that maybe he had done something wrong. Maybe he had led her to think that he was flirting with her when they were in the mountains. He also tells her that she is a very attractive young woman, and if circumstances had been different, maybe he would have been attracted to her and they might have developed a relationship. But she was so young and he was married, so there was no room for a relationship between them. He also tells her that one day she will fall in love as he had been in love with Eve. Then he tells her what her accusations have caused him. He wants her to know all the hardships he is...
(The entire section is 607 words.)
Chapters 53-56 Summary
Enzo is curious about Denny’s relationship with his parents. He does not hear any details until Mike comes over later and pulls the story out of Denny. Denny’s mother is blind and has been that way since Denny was a very young boy. Denny had been his mother’s main caretaker. When Denny graduated from school, he wanted to go away. But Denny’s father insisted that Denny stay at home to help run the farm and take care of his mother. When Denny decided to leave, his father told him that he would never again speak to him. Denny called every year at Christmas, but neither his mother nor his father would respond. Denny continued calling. Then when Eve died and Denny lost Zoe, he called his parents again and asked them for financial support so he could keep Zoe. Finally his mother said she would help him if Denny allowed her to see her granddaughter, to feel her face with her hands. That was why they had finally come to visit Denny.
After his parents leave, Denny’s trial begins. Enzo is not allowed to attend, but he narrates what happened from the details he later gathered. Mr. Lawrence, Denny’s new lawyer, delivers an impassioned opening statement. He asserts that whereas rape is considered an act of power, so too is a baseless allegation. He then pledges to prove Denny’s innocence.
After the main part of the trial begins, the prosecution brings forth several witnesses who are all members of Annika’s extended family who had stayed at the mountain resort while Denny was there. They all accuse Denny of flirting with Annika and taking advantage of every moment to be near her. They attest that Annika flirted back, but she was a child and he was an adult. Denny should have known better. Each of the witnesses tells more and more convincing stories. Finally, the prosecutor calls Annika.
Annika testifies that she flirted with Denny. She also lists all the times he made passes. She said that as a child, she did not really know what she was doing or what her actions meant. Afterward, she claims, the whole affair tormented her. She does not explain what form this torment took, but her words do a lot of damage to Denny’s case. At the end of the trial, all the people in the courtroom seem to believe Denny is guilty. Enzo says that even Denny begins to doubt himself.
That afternoon, Tony is watching Enzo and they are waiting for a verdict when the phone rings. After Tony talks to his friend Mike, he...
(The entire section is 636 words.)
Chapters 57-58 Summary
The day after the trial, Mr. Lawrence informs Denny that Eve’s parents have dropped their custody suit. They ask only that Denny give them a couple of days to say good-bye to Zoe. Denny is under no obligation to grant them their request, but he does so. He spends his time preparing for Zoe’s return. One of his tasks is to make her favorite cookies.
While he is baking the cookies, the phone rings. On the other end of the line is Luca Pantoni, calling from Italy. Luca is returning Denny’s call. Denny asks him if the job offer he had made is still open. Luca tells Denny that the job is still his, and he looks forward to meeting both his dog and his daughter. Before Luca hangs up, Denny wants to know why Luca chose him for the job. Luca had told him earlier that it was because he was a good driver but that he also had another secret reason. Luca had wanted to keep that reason secret until Denny was with him in Italy but Denny cannot stand the anticipation any longer. Luca gives in. He tells Denny that he, too, lost his wife. He thought he would die along with her because he was so miserable. What saved Luca from his grief was that a man at Ferrari offered him a job driving cars for him. Luca says this man literally saved his life. In turn, Luca felt he should help someone in a similar situation. He feels very lucky to be able to offer Denny some help, just as his mentor offered his hand to Luca.
Meanwhile, Enzo is feeling worse. His hips feel frozen and he is in constant pain. He feels that growing old is pathetic. He knows it is inevitable, but that does not make old age any more pleasant. He believes that one day maybe a child will be born who does not believe in getting old, and that child will live in health until he is done with life.
Enzo does not want Denny to worry about him. He does not want Denny to feel the hurt of having to take Enzo to the vet to be euthanized. Enzo does not like the sound of that word, nor does he like the emotion that goes along with it. He does not want Denny to think he had to make the decision to put Enzo to death. Rather, Enzo likes the concept of assisted suicide. There is nothing passive about that. His will is to die. He is ready.
When Denny comes to Enzo one morning and leans down to pet his companion of so many years, Enzo’s legs collapse. Denny sits down and cradles Enzo’s head, then he tells Enzo that if he wants to go it is all right with him. Enzo...
(The entire section is 548 words.)