The following reflection is from one of my favorite books, Dog Blessings: Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs edited by June Cotner (New World Library, 2008). When I re-read this piece recently, I was struck by how timeless and thoughtful it is, ten years later. It speaks to me of the role of dogs as spirit guides, leading us forward through unspeakable tragedy and loss, while reaffirming hope in the future. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Favorite dog books’ Category
Congratulations to Cathy Mitchell, whose wonderful book Save a Spaniel was named best fiction book of 2010 by the Dog Writers Association of America. An engaging tale of rescue written in the dog’s voice, this book is one that makes you stop and wonder, “Is that what my dog is really thinking?”Although fiction, the story is loosely based on the adventures of one of the author’s dogs, a rescued Boykin spaniel. “Star,” the canine narrator of the book, is a purebred Boykin spaniel with a white mark on her chest, an undesirable marking for the breed standard. Star is purchased by a couple as a pet and hunting companion for the husband. Her troubles begin when she proves to be gun-shy. (more…)
A New Job for Pearl is a delightful book created by a group of talented, second grade students in Alamo, California to tell the story of Pearl, a Black Labrador rescued from an animal shelter, who has a new job in search and rescue, thanks to the Search Dog Foundation. This organization works with shelters and rescue groups to identify search dog candidates, who are often the high energy, bounce off the walls type of dog that are hard to place. As the book explains, these dogs need a job! After eight months of training costing approximately $10,000, the dog is placed with a firefighter trained in disaster response, and is deployed to disaster sites worldwide. For her work in rescuing 12 people trapped in the Haiti earthquake, Pearl was honored as the “Dog of the Year” by the ASPCA. Proceeds from book sales benefit the Search Dog Foundation. Copies can be purchased for $10 at A New Job for Pearl. Congratulations to this enterprising group of students, who not only created an uplifting book, but are helping to save lives of shelter dogs and the people they will eventually rescue.
I found this lovely little book, The Shelter Dog, written and illustrated by Christine Davis (Lighthearted Press, 2008) in the online store of the Grey Muzzle Organization, a nonprofit that helps homeless senior dogs through grants to shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries for programs such as medical assistance for senior dogs, adoption and foster programs for senior dogs, and community programs to help low-income owners keep their senior dogs. The plight of homeless senior dogs is a cause close to my heart, and I was thrilled to discover the Grey Muzzle folks and be able to support them through purchasing a book! The Shelter Dog tells the story of Hero, a dog who had a happy and loving earthly existence as companion to a young disabled girl. One day, as he flies among the stars, he asks the Shelter Angel, who watches over shelter dogs, if he can return to earth as a shelter dog. “It must be wonderful to be a shelter dog and have someone find you and bring you home,” Hero thinks. But as an old dog with a limp, he finds himself passed over in the shelter. I won’t give away the ending, but can assure you this is a book you will love for its positive, uplifting message. The story and illustrations will captivate readers of all ages. A perfect gift book!
As I collect both dog poetry and dog photos, I was delighted to recently discover The World According to Dog; Poems and Teen Voices by Joyce Sidman, with photographs by Doug Mindell (Houghton, 2003). The genesis of this lovely book was poems inspired by the author’s dog, which she wrote when going through a difficult time. The author’s poems are interspersed with brief essays and photos of their dogs submitted by teenage authors in response to the author’s invitation on teen listserves and web sites. Ms. Sidman’s poems are illustrated with stunning photos by Doug Mindell, a professional photographer. The contrast of these dramatic yet soft-focus black and white photos with Ms. Sidman’s haiku-like verse makes the book a stunning work of art. Although it is hard to pick a favorite among many wonderful poems in the book, I think the one that resonates most with me is called “The Splash of Your Heart.” I want to/gather you back/midair/that handful of puppy/you once were/keep you curled/in my palm/never hear the splash/of your heart/hitting the world. Another favorite, “Dog in Bed,” concludes: This is how it is with love./Once invited,/it steps in gently,/circles twice,/and takes up as much space/as you will give it. The poems are simple, direct, and heartfelt, and the author’s keen observations of her dog definitely describe “the world according to dog.” A wonderful gift for dog friends or just to savor for yourself!
I became a fan of Dr. Nick Trout, a veterinary surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center near Boston, when I read his first book, Tell Me Where it Hurts. His new book, Love is the Best Medicine – What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian About Hope, Humility, and Everyday Miracles (Broadway Books, 2010) is one of the best dog books I have read in a long time. Dr. Trout juxtaposes the stories of two dogs, an elderly Cocker Spaniel named Helen, and a young Min-Pin named Cleo, who became his patients under unusual circumstances. Without giving the story away, suffice it to say that these two cases and their unexpected outcomes provide a riveting account of the human-animal bond and the spiritual dimension of healing. This book is about what it means to love a dog, and the lengths we will go to save them as well as how we come to terms with their loss. Dr. Trout is as skilled a writer as he is a surgeon, writing with humor, honesty, and compassion. The result is much more than a book of animal hospital anecdotes; it explores a deeper dimension of medical miracles, and it is a book that stays with you long after you put it down.
Since I love spaniels and love books written in the dog’s voice, I was delighted to discover this new book, Save a Spaniel; a tale of loss and survival featuring a dog, by Cathy Mitchell, a Pulitzer Prize winner and journalism professor. Although fiction, the story is loosely based on the adventures of one of the author’s dogs, a rescued Boykin spaniel. “Star,” the canine narrator of the book, is a purebred Boykin spaniel with a white mark on her chest, an undesirable marking for the breed standard. Star is purchased by a couple as a pet and hunting companion for the husband. Her troubles begin when she proves to be gun-shy. (more…)
If you are looking for a lovely holiday gift for the animal lovers on your list, I recommend Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets by June Cotner (HarperCollins, 2000). I discovered Ms. Cotner’s lovely series of books with her more recently published Dog Blessings. Animal Blessings includes writings about all types of animals, from dogs, cats, and horses to wildlife including birds, deer, dolphins, and other wild creatures. (more…)
Following the loss of Marmaduke and Molly, I embarked on a project to compile poems and tributes to dogs that had died. I found them in out of print books and out of the way places. Most of the tributes that were ultimately published in Angel Pawprints; Reflections on Loving and Losing a Canine Companion were written in the early 1900s, although I included a few contemporary poems as well. Through this project I became a collector of antiquarian dog books, vintage photos of dogs, and quotes about dogs. I never tire of reading about dogs and the countless ways in which they enrich our lives. Thus, I was delighted to find this treasure, a new book called Dog Blessings; Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs, edited by June Cotner. (more…)