DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

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The dog days of summer are upon us and, here at the Literary Duck, we’re seeking out someplace shady to spend an afternoon with a good book. What better way to spend a hot lazy day than reading about our canine companions?

My Dog Tulip

J.R. Ackerley

my-dog-tulipThe distinguished British man of letters J. R. Ackerley hardly thought of himself as a dog lover when, well into middle age, he came into possession of a German shepherd. To his surprise, she turned out to be the love of his life, the “ideal friend” he had been searching for in vain for years. My Dog Tulip is a bittersweet retrospective account of their sixteen-year companionship, as well as a profound and subtle meditation on the strangeness that lies at the heart of all relationships. In vivid and sometimes startling detail, Ackerley tells of Tulip’s often erratic behavior and very canine tastes, and of his own fumbling but determined efforts to ensure for her an existence of perfect happiness. My Dog Tulip has been adapted to screen as a major animated feature film with a cast that includes the voices of Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, and Isabella Rossellini. It has been heralded as “A stroke of genius” by New York Magazine and “The love story of the year” by Vanity Fair. (Publisher’s Marketing)

 

Dog Walks Man: A Six Legged Odyssey

John Zeaman

dog-walks-man-a-six-legged-odysseyA humorous, thoughtful, absorbing narrative about the metaphysical joys of a simple daily task. Imagine if Annie Dillard had taken a dog along with her to Tinker Creek. Now imagine Tinker Creek was a New Jersey suburb, and you have an idea of the surprises that await in John Zeaman’s book. Humorous, thought-provoking, and playful, Dog Walks Man might also be called “Zen and the Art of Dog Walking.” Zeaman takes us on a journey from a ’round-the-block fraternity of “dog-walking dupes”—suburban fathers who indulged their children’s wish for a dog—to a strange and forbidden wonderland at the edge of town, the New Jersey Meadowlands. Along the way, he rediscovers childhood’s forgotten “fringe places,” investigates the mysteries of the natural world, and experiences moments of inexplicable joy. Each chapter of Dog Walks Man is a bite-size meditation on the wisdom derived from dogs and dog walking. Woven into the narrative are musings on such familiar dog-walking issues as the war of nerves that precedes each walk (or “w-a-l-k” if your dog is in earshot), the problem of dog-walking monotony, and why dog walkers are always the ones to discover dead bodies. This is also the story of Pete, the prescient standard poodle who begins as the “family glue” and evolves into Zeaman’s partner on a journey through an abandoned landscape as alive as any jungle. Above all, “Dog Walks Man” is about a search for wholeness in an increasingly artificial world. It is about discovering what Thoreau meant when he wrote, in his seminal essay “Walking,” that, “Life consists with wildness.” Because the truth is, something as simple as walking the dog can open up unexpected worlds. (Publisher’s Marketing)

 

Pukka: The Pup After Merle

Ted Kerasote

pukkaSince the publication of the best-selling Merle’s Door, Ted Kerasote has received thousands of e-mails asking two questions: “Have you gotten another dog?” and “Are you writing a new book?” Pukka: The Pup After Merle answers both, in the most heartwarming way. Told in Pukka’s charming voice and accompanied by more than 200 photos, Pukka: The Pup After Merle tells the story of how Ted found Pukka, recounting the early days of their bonding as they explore Kelly and the wider world. Walks become hikes and hikes become climbs, their adventures culminating in a rugged wilderness journey that teaches both Pukka and Ted something new about the dog-human partnership. Filled with stunning images of the West, Pukka is a love story as well as Ted’s take on raising a puppy. It will do pictorially what Merle did with words—show how dogs thrive when treated as peers while illustrating the many ways that any dog opens the door to our hearts. (Publisher’s Marketing)

 

Marcus of Umbria: What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl About Love

Justine van der Leun

marcus-of-umbriaReaders will delight in this tale of an urbanite who leaves her magazine job to move to Collelungo, Italy, population: 200. There, in the ancient city center of a historic Umbrian village, she sets up house with the enticing local gardener she met on vacation only weeks earlier. This impulsive decision launches an eye-opening series of misadventures when village life and romance turn out to be radically different from what she had imagined. Love lost with the gardener is found instead with Marcus, an abandoned English pointer that she rescues. With Marcus by her side, Justine discovers the bliss and hardship of living in the countryside: herding sheep, tending to wild horses, picking olives with her adopted Italian family, and trying her best to learn the regional dialect. The result is a rich, comic, and unconventional portrait about learning to live and love in the most unexpected ways. (Publisher’s Marketing)

 

One Nation Under Dog: America’s Love Affair with Our Dogs

Michael Schaffer

one-nation-under-dogWhen Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural animal shelter and adopted Murphy, a mistreated Saint Bernard, they vowed that they’d never become the kind of people who, say, get their dog a facial treatment. But then they started to get weird looks from the in-laws: You hired a trainer? Murphy is on antidepressants? It turned out Murphy wasn’t alone: yesteryear’s pooch has moved from the backyard doghouse to the master bedroom, evolving from man’s best friend to bona fide family member. One Nation Under Dog is the beloved chronicle of this new world of American pet mania. Schaffer, guided on occasion by Murphy, provides a surprising, lively, and often hilarious portrait of our country—how the way we treat our pets reflects evolving ideas about everything from science and consumerism, to politics and family—through this fabulously reported and sympathetic look at both us, and our animals.

 

Follow My Lead: What Training My Dog Taught Me About Life, Love and Happiness

Carol Quinn

follow-my-leadFollow My Lead is the story of how two rambunctious dogs and a tough Russian dog trainer named Irina taught Carol Quinn everything she needed to know about life, love, and happiness. It all begins when the author decides—somewhat naively—to enroll her two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Nairobi and Sheila, into dog agility training. Unhappy with her failing love affair, her stagnant career, and even herself, she’s hoping to find a hobby and straighten out her unruly but affectionate pets. She soon discovers that dog agility is not a lazy game of fetch; it’s a highly competitive sport that requires owners to move their dogs through a timed obstacle course using only voice and hand signals. What follows is a life-changing experience: a learning process that teaches her not only about her dogs, but also about herself. As she continues, the training, and even the obstacle course itself, becomes a metaphor for her life. With humor and candor, Quinn shares the parallel story of how, with Irina’s guidance and wisdom, she and her dogs develop a deep bond of love and trust, and learn to navigate the course obstacles with grace and skill; and how she, too, overcomes life’s obstacles by accepting her flaws and finding the inner strength to move forward—away from her doomed love affair, fears, and anxieties—and become the “alpha dog” of her own life. Funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, Follow My Lead is a story full of useful life lessons and homespun wisdom that will entertain and inspire readers of all sensibilities, whether they are dog lovers or not. (Publisher’s Marketing)

 

Fixing Freddie: A True Story About a Boy, a Mom, and a Very Very Bad Beagle

Paula Munier

fixing-freddieThere are bad dogs—and then there are bad beagles. In this hilarious and heartwarming memoir, single mother Paula Munier takes on the world’s worst beagle—and loses every time. She tries everything to fix Freddie, but nothing really works. As her youngest son grows up and prepares to leave her soon-to-be empty nest, Paula’s worst fear is that after more than thirty years of raising kids, she’ll be left all alone—with Freddie.

 

 

 

Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities

Jan Bondeson

amazing-dogsDogs have a cherished role as close companions, and their sometimes startling abilities have been a never-ending source of fascination for their observers and friends through the ages. In Amazing Dogs, Jan Bondeson uncovers the stories of some of the most extraordinary dogs in history. In the 1750s, the Learned English Dog, a Border collie with the ability to spell and perform mathematical calculations, was a sensation in London and thought by some to be a reincarnation of Pythagoras. The acting Newfoundland dog, Carlo, who performed in London from 1803 until 1811, had plays specially written for him; their plots called on him to tackle villains, liberate prisoners, and dive into artificial lakes onstage to save drowning children. Don, the Speaking Dog, toured the world barking out words like “Hungry! Give me cakes!” and had particular success in New York. Some of the amazing dogs whose stories Bondeson chronicles belonged to the canine proletariat: turnspit dogs ceaselessly ran inside wheels to turn the roast meat, and terriers showed off their native abilities in rat-pits, with bets laid on the number of rats killed. The champion terrier, Billy, killed 100 rats in five and a half minutes in 1823, a record that stood until 1863, when it was broken by Jacko, another champion rat-killer. Before the days of UNICEF trick-or-treaters, dogs once collected for charity in London’s railway stations, with boxes attached to their backs. Lord Byron’s rowdy Newfoundland dog, Boatswain, belonged to the opposite end of the canine social spectrum, as did the superrich dogs that inherited money from their wealthy and eccentric owners. Amazing Dogs, illustrated with more than 130 contemporary images, including thirty in color, suitably ends with a chapter on dog cemeteries and canine ghosts. A literary and visual treat for both dog lovers and those fascinated by the history of the strange and the uncanny, this book reaffirms the special bond between humans and dogs.

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