Books About Dogs II
Books About Dogs returns!
This week we feature Being a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz, as well as The Promise, Rescue Me, Mort(e), and Good Dog.
Being a Dog | Alexandra Horowitz
Alexandra Horowitz is my favorite writer about dogs.
In the first edition of Books About Dogs, I profiled her New York Times bestseller, Inside of a Dog. I have quoted her liberally over the course of the life of the Urban Dog blog. And now I’ve had the pleasure of reading her latest book, Being a Dog.
The title is a piece of a misdirection. Horowitz begins by describing how dogs experience the world through smell… the inner workings of the canine snout… what a “sniff” is… how dogs tell time by detecting the degradation of odors… and how dogs’ sense of smell gives them a sense of self.
Horowitz writes at length about how powerful a dog’s sense of smell is:
The dog knows if someone’s removed his socks in a room bigger than the gargantuan vehicle assembly building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, made to put space shuttles together. Any dog in the nearly four million cubic meters of Space Center would be alert to sweaty astronauts.
She visits a center for training working dogs, accompanies dogs as they search for truffles, and takes her dog Finnegan to an obedience training center whose curriculum is built around re-introducing dogs to their sense of smell.
But once she establishes how wonderful a dog’s nose is, Horowtiz then spends a great deal of time writing about her own powers of olfaction, giving the book its subtitle: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell.
In an effort to better understand how dogs experience the world, Horowitz tries to “re-engage” her own sense of smell. Among other things, she takes a smell tour of Manhattan, she visits perfumers and wine experts, and she enrolls in scent cataloguing program. Her goal is to reawaken, in herself, humankind’s primitive ability to smell the world as dogs do. She meets with some success but ends the book with the following conclusion:
I will never smell as a dog does. I accept it. It is dogs’ difference I celebrate–and their ways of smelling–their very noses–are different. Quiet distillers of a world that we have stood up from and forgotten.
Here’s the review from Kirkus Reviews.
Visit Urban Dog next week to enter a chance to win copy of this book in the “Being a Dog Sweepstakes.”
Rescue Me | Photographs by Richard Phibbs
An acquaintance of mine recently published Rescue Me, a collection of photos of dogs who were rescued from the Humane Society’s New York shelter.
Richard Phibbs is a well-known fashion and celebrity photographer. He donates his time to the Humane Society in an effort to help find these dogs forever homes.
The photos are gorgeous and the stories of each dog will bring a tear to your eye. My mom has already bought four copies, one for herself and three as gifts.
Here are some interior pages from the book.
The Promise | Robert Crais
The Promise is a sequel of sorts to Suspect, a thriller I featured in the first Urban Dog Books About Dogs post.
In Suspect, author Robert Crais introduced us to Maggie, a former military dog who joins the LAPD after retiring from service. In the The Promise, Maggie returns as a supporting character. This book really is a new installment in Crais’ “Elvis Cole and Joe Pike” series of detective novels.
I still enjoyed it a great deal. I liked the central mystery and was happy to see Maggie make a return.
Read about The Promise on Kirkus Reviews here.
Good Dog | Edited by David DiBenedetto and the Editors of Garden & Gun Magazine
Good Dog is a wonderful collection of essays from Garden & Gun Magazine (Guns and gardens? go figure!) One of the most popular features in the magazine is an essay about dogs. The column showcases the work of such well-known writers as Jon Meacham, Dominique Browning, Roy Blount, Jr., and P.J. O’Rourke. (The last two appear frequently on my favorite radio show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!)
The stories are all true and range from humorous to heartbreaking.
All-too-frequently heartbreaking, because so many of the essays end with the subject’s demise!
Here’s generally how they go:
- Fido joins household as a wonderful puppy.
- Fido is a “Good Dog” and brings joy to all.
- Fido affords author great insight into the human condition.
- Author learns profound “Life Lesson.”
- Fido gets old… and DIES!
Seriously, after about ten of those, I was wrecked! No wonder the subtitle is True Stories about Love, Loss and Loyalty!
I don’t say this to knock the book. I throughly enjoyed it. But I had to put it aside from time-to-time because I would get too sad!
Here is a review from the Kirkus Reviews website.
Mort(e) | Robert Repino
Okay, this one is really about a cat, but since several dogs play very important roles in this book, I’m including it in this post.
Mort(e) is a high-concept science fiction novel set in dystopian future where evil ants have taken over the world. As part of their plan to wrest control of the planet from humans they have given other animals sentience and opposable thumbs. They enlist these newly-aware animals as their allies in the war against mankind.
Mort(e) is one such animal. He first fights for the formic hordes, but then switches sides and helps the humans.
He abandons the ants because he believes humans harbor the love of his life, a dog who went missing years ago … hmm … this all sounds very silly writing it down, doesn’t it?
Trust me, if you like your science fiction “out there” and allegorical, then this is a book for you!
Here’s a link to Kirkus Reviews’ take on Mort(e).