A chance meeting with a large mammal chiropractor in Santa Fe, New Mexico, led me to this story about a childless couple that adopted an orphaned buffalo calf. The wife, Veryl Goodnight, a well-known Western sculptor of animals, needed a baby buffalo to pose for a sculpture of her ancestor Charles Goodnight, who, in the 19th century, help saved the American buffalo species from extinction. The chance to connect a contemporary animal love story—Veryl’s husband Roger fell head-over-heels for Charlie—to the 19th-century genocide of the American Indians and the massacre of the tens of millions of buffalo their existence depended on-was irresistible to me.
From the cover:
“Surrounded by people and dogs, Charlie has no idea he’s a buffalo—and Roger has no idea how strong the bond between a middle-aged man and a buffalo can be. When Charlie’s later introduction to a herd results in a terrible accident, Charlie’s courage and Roger and Very’s devotion are pushed to their limits.
“Contrasting the nineteenth-century killing of tens of millions of buffalo against our own era’s environmental consciousness, this book asks the question: How far are you willing to go for an animal you love? A love story, a comedy, and a history of the American West, A Buffalo in the House packs a major emotional wallop and will be hard to forget.”
“More than a touching man-beast buddy tale…Rosen lovingly chronicles the history of an embattled species and its importance in the American West.”
“Riveting…From the story of one stray baby bison named Charlie…and the family that took him in, Rosen has drawn a sweeping history of the American frontier…I can’t remember when I’ve been instructed so gracefully, or entertained to such deep purpose.”
-Jane Kramer, The New Yorker
“Powerful…[Charlie is] one of the most memorable characters in recent nature writing.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Moving proof of the restorative powers of man’s relationship with nature.”