Part travelogue, part valentine to a beloved pet, Ella in Europe chronicles writer Michael Konik’s magical six-week journey through Europe with his dog, Ella. An homage to the friend who has “licked away my tears when I’m sad, hopped on her hind legs when I’m happy, and snuggled me when I’m lonely,” here is the story of a bond unlike any other–and an extraordinary dog who stole her way into one man’s heart.
Los Angeles writer Michael Konik had always shared his life with dogs. But Ella, a gentle Lab mix, was something special. From the moment Konik laid eyes on Ella, he knew: This dog was meant to be his. An enchantress who charmed all who met her, Ella Guinevere Konik had a truly unique gift–and soon Konik found a way for Ella to share that gift, signing her up for a program that brings dogs into hospitals, nursing homes, and children’s shelters.
When Ella turned ten, Konik wanted to thank the “best friend” whose unconditional love had transformed his life–and given comfort and joy to others in need. So a trip to Europe was planned–and for Konik and Ella a once-in-a-lifetime adventure began, one that would strengthen the already-powerful bond between them. As they explore Europe’s most beautiful–and surprisingly dog-friendly–cities, Konik is amazed at the experiences he and Ella can share . . . Arriving in Vienna on July Fourth with Ella wrapped in her American flag scarf . . . Dining at four-star restaurants in Paris . . . Ella swimming in the Danube . . . Taking a gondola ride in Venice . . . Sunbathing in St. Tropez . . . Searching for a canine toilet in Monte Carlo. But soon this journey of friendship, love, and discovery must come to a close. And as Konik heads home, accompanied by the canine friend who “helped teach me what love means,” one thing is certain: Both dog and owner have been changed forever.
At once a testament to the power of unconditional love and a celebration of devotion, Ella in Europe is
a book for anyone who has ever felt a special connection to a dog they’ve loved.
This tale of the author's adventures in Europe with his dog is more than just your standard-issue travelogue. Events, places and interactions that would seem cliched or commonplace if only mere humans were involved become reinvented in the presence of Ella Guinevere Konik, a beautiful white Labrador/Greyhound mix. Konik's love for his best friend is boundless. Thankfully, it's also free of cutesy Hallmark sentiment. "She's just a dog," he writes. "This I know. But she is my best friend, too..." Konik takes Ella to Europe as a reward for her years of devotion, but also, he admits, because he loves to be with her. And in Europe, dogs are welcome in public places in a way that American dogs can only dream of. Konik spends much of the book in near shock that he can take Ella to stores, hotels, tourist attractions and even fine restaurants. In the course of their travels, Ella unwittingly teaches her owner important life lessons. Watching her sleep, Konik muses, "Ella's contentment is the kind that comes from living in the present, from being immune to future worries and amnesiac about past travails. ... I think in some ways I'd like to be more like my dog." But, like all the great love stories, this one contains an element of melancholy. Ella is getting on in years, and Konik, unlike his dog, cannot help but think about the future. It's hard to imagine the stone-hearted reader who could remain unmoved by Ella and the feelings she engenders in Konik and those she encounters. Photos.