Doggie Reads for the Dog Days of Summer

I’ll read just about anything, but one of my favorite genres is animal stories.  I have to read them at home, though, alone and unseen because no matter how upbeat and happy the story, I know that at some point in the narrative, I will puddle into a mass of tears.

Summer’s a full-on, humid, nasty piece of work in Minnesota this year.  Good days for a long session of reading in hammock or lawn chair with an iced tea at hand.  Truth be told: for me, it is on the sofa with the air conditioner running at full blast.  Good days for not gardening, not running and not playing ball toss with Luna.

Here are some of the dog stories I have enjoyed reading in the past year.  It’s a short and not a comprehensive list, but I will add to it as I can.  All are available at any online book store and should be at your local library.

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein
An inventive piece of writing, told from the dog’s point of view.  It’s a dog’s
narrative where the dog has the soul of a very wise human.  There’s nothing in
this book that has the confounding dichotomy of an animal intelligent enough to
narrate a story, but is clueless enough not to know basic facts of human life, for
instance, “my owner sits and watches that crazy box all the time.  Must be
looking for some weird kind of humanoid food.”

Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover’s Story of Joy and Anguish by Mark R. Levin
Political types take note:  Mark Levin is a conservative commentator, but his
politics don’t enter into this sweet tale of his family’s rescued dog.    Levin is a             supporter of animal shelters and rescues; he and his family have a foundation             devoted to helping homeless animals.  Whatever your political leanings, you will be      touched by the story of this senior spaniel in need of a good home.

Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen.
Quindlen, of course, is the well-known columnist and journalist who has several books and countless articles and columns to her credit.  This is the only one I’ve read.

There’s not much text, but there are many wonderful photographs of Beau, the good dog in her book.  In “Good Dog. Stay”, Quindlen has authored  one of the best quotations,
ever: “Human beings wind up having the relationship with dogs that they fool
themselves they will have with other people.”

My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley.

I admit that I haven’t read very far into this book yet.  I borrowed it from the library with several other books, was saving it for last, feeling that it would be an
extra-special read – a naughty German shepherd girl is the book’s heroine.  I held onto the book for  so long that all my renewal chances expired and I ended up doing what I always do with borrowed books I love, anyway, and I bought my own  copy.  (Hey, I have something in common with Martha Stewart!  It’s true: I saw it on her TV show.)

Once Tulip was safely mine, I continued to work my way through the unending stack of library books and books borrowed from friends. Tulip has waited patiently for me on my bedside table with many other books; I have not forgotten about her, but I have not been very attentive.
The fifty or so pages I did read were charming: imagine my sympathetic nods and “oh, yeahs” as I read of Ackerley’s trials in getting Tulip examined by a vet. There is also an animated film of the book that I own on DVD but –wait for it — also have not  watched.     You’re probably wondering if I ever actually DO anything.

Marcus of Umbria: What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl about Love by Justine  van der Leun.
Likeable true story of a New Yorker who goes to Italy, hooks up with Italian hunk,  soon dumps same but keeps the dog they rescued from farm life.  Moral: men come and go but a good dog stays in your heart forever.