Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

36, Essays

The Therapy of Puppy School

Around the time my son was born, or just before, I gathered up all of the bits and pieces I had written on my blog since moving to Germany (and then back to Australia and then back to Germany) and collected them in one volume, Heimat. It covered the Münster years, the Weiden years and the Sydney-Kiel-Weiden-Kiel years and was the perfect full-stop to a period in my life during which I had moved around a lot and was greatly preoccupied with figuring out Germany and my place within it. After Heimat went out into the world, I kept writing as much as I could between babies and toddlers and found myself increasingly drawn to the personal essay genre, a natural extension of blogging. I had always loved writing fiction – I still do – but the personal essay was what kept me writing. With fiction I would stop and start, get frustrated, forget about it. But when I sat down to write through a theme or a word or an idea or a picture, I would finish an essay’s bones easily.

In any case, the baby and toddler years ended up producing Now I Climb Rocks, a collection of writing that opens with my first pregnancy in the Bavarian town of Weiden and ends with the third spring we spent in our little house here in Schleswig-Holstein, the kids three and five years old. The title comes from one of the essays in the book, Humans as Plants and speaks to the collection’s central themes of belonging and putting down roots for ourselves and our children. Now I Climb Rocks came out just as the pandemic hit and, unbeknownst to us at the time, a new era began. We bunkered down for what would ultimately be two years.

In November of 2020, as the first winter of the pandemic began, I began keeping a type of journal. It had been an odd year and what was looming promised to be even more so. As 2021 dawned, I turned, once more, to my blog. I promised to publish something every month. Nothing has made me write more nor kept me more accountable than my blog in the decade I have had it. Month in, month out, I published a little excerpt from my pandemic notes, filing it away under ’36’ on my blog because it became clear the writing wasn’t so much about the pandemic as it was about my 36th year, the sheer ordinariness of it playing out in an extraordinary time. As 2021 drew to a close and 2022 dawned, I had another collection of writing: The Therapy of Puppy School. 

I thought, when I started keeping notes on life during a pandemic – or at least my life – that it would come to be some sort of pandemic diaries. But that didn’t happen. Lots of other things did, though. My eldest started school, we bought a puppy, I became addicted to a genre of books, courtesy of my neighbour.

I found myself writing about the beginning of my second act as a mother. Week after week, I kept notes on the therapy of puppy school, on relationships with language, on books, on friendship, on regret. The pandemic is there, in this book, of course, humming in the background, drawing the lines we had to stay within, dominating what we read, what we listened to, expanding our vocabulary with new terms and ideas. Pissing me off. Pissing us all off. But it isn’t everything, because – as I came to realise – it wasn’t everything. How could it be?

The Therapy of Puppy School captures a globally extraordinary year, playing out in an ordinary life. What started out as a simple journal became a collection of essays that ducks and weaves between all of the worry and uncertainty the pandemic brought with it and the seasons of life that continued regardless.

I am so pleased to say, it’s now available to buy and read. I hope you enjoy it or find something in it that speaks to you.

Purchasing Details

I have collected all the links for the ebook and paperback purchasing options. All links are here!



  1. Jo Hambrett

    8 October, 2022 at 3:35 am

    OK us Aussies will wait with bated breath!!
    Common Amazon and get this third book of the trilogy ONLINE!!

  2. Today is the Day You Worried about Yesterday – Liv Hambrett

    26 February, 2023 at 9:14 am

    […] is taken from an essay in my latest collection. The essay is called Today is the Day You Worried about Yesterday and it was written in January […]

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