Elsa Was Born a Dog, I Was Born a Human. Things Have Changed (2013)

In Rhoda Lerman’s newest book about her dogs, we get to know Elsa, a very large, black and white Newfoundland, as she struggles to be human, to speak, to act, and to think as we do. Because of her profound and intense relationship with her humans, Elsa has become a person-dog, happily living her life on the interface between human and dog. Lerman, who is always trying to understand her dogs and join their universe, has struggled to become a dog-person. Elsa and Lerman understand each other.


“I love what Ms. Lerman says about dogs [in Elsa Was Born A Dog]! Her deep love of dogs come through and she asks all the profound questions that we dog people are always asking: just who are these animals/people?
– Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson author of When Elephants Weep; The Emotional Life of Animals  and Dogs Never Lie about Love

Awarded the best work on Human-Animal Bond presented at 2014 Westminster Dog Show by the Dog Writer’s Association of America.
Rhoda at the Merial Awards in 2014

5.0 out of 5 stars
How we all wish we understood our dogs and they understood us
April 29, 2013
By Sara L. Stein

Rhoda Lerman has done it again! An already accomplished author and playwright (she penned the highly acclaimed Broadway play Eleanor starring Jean Stapleton as Eleanor Roosevelt), and an award winning breeder of Newfoundland dogs, Lerman has poured her heart – love, ache, fatigue, worry, compassion – into this story of her female Newfoundland and the 17 pups she birthed.

Some reviews on Amazon.com

It is poetical, lyrical, and engaging – sometimes the dog, sometimes Rhoda, sometimes the memories of her childhood, sometimes the crazy goings on in the kennel with a brood of 150 lb dogs who all have their own personality. Always beautiful, sometimes funny, poignant, very real-life, sometimes wistful. Easy to read, thought provoking.

It makes me think of the bond we have with our animals, and how deep that bond really goes, into the far reaches of our souls. We love our dogs like children, they in turn love us back and care for us – a trait that remains consistent whether we are tired, or irritable or just plain too busy for them. Rhoda shows how they become our partners in life.

It’s a great read, just writing this brings tears to my eyes. Enjoy!

5.0 out of 5 stars
I’m a better human having read this book…and a better companion, too.
May 26, 2013
By Counselor Resources

I couldn’t put this book down. The author served as a guide through new pathways, spiritual and also humorous, provoking curiosity and riches that I seek in books but rarely find. I love my own dog more having read this , and feel his life and my own so much more deeply now. I know he feels my rebirth of love as well.

5.0 out of 5 stars
October 10, 2013
By Judy Ferguson

I have never enjoyed a book as much as “In The Company of Newfies” until “Elsa Was Born a Dog,…….” Rhoda, when I met you for the first time, I knew you were a DOG PERSON , well so am I.
I’ve owned 9 Newfs., over the years and I’m a Newfoundlander myself, so may I offer you a huge 2-legged Newfie hug and Thank You for this book.
I cried for Mr. Purple and smiled at the regimental confusion of the raising of these 17 puppies. Well done.
Take Care, keep on writing and Bless you.
Judy F.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A worthy sequel to In the Company of Newfies
October 9, 2013
By Peter B

If you love dogs, if you strive to understand this bond between us, if you wish you had a better grasp of the human canine bond, you will love this book. Rhoda is a gifted writer and more who is a gifted guide to the canine world. She is a dog lovers dog lover. When you read this book you will wish you were one of Lerman’s dogs- she loves them so much. She studies them, she pays attention and she remembers. Throughout the book there a gems of knowledge sprinkled throughout. I love this breed of dogs, someday I hope to be owned by one again, read this book and you will know why. Just a great read. Well done Rhoda

5.0 out of 5 stars
Intimate and rich
October 5, 2013
By Risa Scranton “Risabee”

The book is just wonderful – so intimate and personal – I felt like I was listening to Rhoda tell me and only me the whole story – It’s so vivid and full of rich detail – I could smell the poop and feel the pride and exhaustion and wonder. The relationship between Rhoda and Elsa is the core of the story. Rhoda’s amazing empathy for her canine companion and Elsa’s stalwart tolerance and loyalty to her beloved person is poignant and powerful. I loved the whole book – story, photos, everything. Well, well done!

5.0 out of 5 stars
May 28, 2013
By Alex Rose

If you are contemplating having a litter of puppies; have a child, instead; it’s a lot easier! Through the miracle of breeding the giant canines (Newfoundlands), novelist, philosopher, behaviorist, breeder, Rhoda Lerman propels us on the emotional rocket ride that is inherent in this monumental journey. As we humans have depended for centuries upon the giant breeds to rescue us, both in water and in snow, guard us agains predators and enemies, fought beside our soldiers in battle, explored unmapped territories with Lewis and Clark; so, too, have these compassionate companions, whose lives are inextricably bound up with ours,learned to depend upon us. The “boundaries” are as elastic and as infinite as we, the humans, allow them to be because our canine guides are limitless in their love and kindness. This heartfelt account allows us to experience each moment of triumph, sadness, joy, and heartache that accompanies each stage of Dear Elsa’s (canine mother-to-be)breeding, pregnancy, birth process, maternity (such as it is) and eventual release of her offspring to their new human families. DON’T MISS THIS BOOK – it will enliven your spirit, make you weep from tension AND joy, and provide you with the very insight you’ve been reaching for but haven’t yet achieved. Alex Rose, film producer (Norma Rae, Frankie& Johnny, Overboard, etc.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars
June 17, 2013
By Barbara Berkowitz

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! After I read Rhoda Lerman’s book, “In the Company of Newfies”, I knew I had to get a Newf. Now I have the most beautiful 19 month old Newf. With him laying his head on my lap, I laughed and cried in parts. Rhoda’s writing beautifully described their relationship, the hardships, emotions and triumps experienced with Elsa, her puppies and the rest of the group. I felt as if we had experienced everything together. Couldn’t put this book dow