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if you read only one dog book this year… ~ {Ontario pet photographer}

i know it’s been a while since i posted a “things we love!” blog entry … sorry ’bout that.  just too much happenin’ in these parts … and i knew that i wanted to write about this book as the next “things we love” blog entry.  plus, well, i had to finish reading the book first, and frankly, i had to tackle the ending in small doses.

but trust me, if there’s only one dog book you read this year, let it be Steve Duno’s, last dog on the hill

as you’d expect, i have quite a library of dog books.  but as a published novelist for two decades, i confess i can be a harsher critic than many.  i’ve got some high standards, both when it comes to writing, and when it comes to those i feel even have the authority to be writing books about dogs.  needless to say, there are countless books on dogs in print, and out of those, many that — i believe — should never have met a printing press.  admittedly, those are the ones that find their way — rather unceremoniously — on a quick trip via the blue bins to the curb in front of our house.  “What? You don’t take them to a used book store? Donate them to the library?” sadly, no.   i’m not about to waste someone else’s time with such tripe.

but once in a while, a genuinely solid piece of writing about dogs comes out … a story worth telling, written by someone who not only knows how to write, but has also learned a thing or two about dogs, and as such has some authority to speak about what he writes.  Steve Duno’s story of his first dog Lou, and how this rescued mutt altered his life, is truly “unforgettable”.   … beautifully written, never maudlin, perhaps a little embellished in places, but overall, a book that will remain the forerunner of all the “dog story” books on my shelf, as it will be difficult — if not impossible — to top.

if you’ve ever had that wonder dog, ever loved a dog so deeply you thought your life would end when theirs did, this is a book for you.  whole paragraphs and single phrases are not only moving, but also touch you to the core …

” … because together, with this dog, things meant more.”

“Better to bear an unending line of sweet, tail-wagging idiots than to bury you again,” Duno writes to Lou after his passing.  “Pity the dogs who follow a legend.  I’m done searcing for your doppelganger.”

and as my girl Matea — my own wonder-dog and hero, and a dog i’m pretty sure Duno would be impressed with and no doubt see some similarities to his incredible boy — as she steps into her senior years, coping with spondylosis, Duno’s convictions and experience ring loudly for me.  “Work is life. You stop working, you’re dead.” … and i realize i have to do more with my wonder-dog, even though her body can’t run and fly and jump and leap and hunt the way she used to.

so, thank you, Mr. Duno, for an unforgettable story, for some beautiful writing, and for the cry.  i hope your heart has been touched as deeply by a new dog, just in a different way.  as someone who has gone through the deep losses of a couple of very special dogs already, i can say that they are all legends in their own way, they all touch our hearts just in very different ways … we just have to be open to it.  or maybe i’ve just been really lucky in dogs.

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  • DianeLewisPhotographThanks for mentioning this book- will definately go and buy it- have been so dissapointed in so many of the other dog books out there. My heart dog Bailey lies here under my desk as I write this, he is 15 1/2, God help me when he leaves. I have him to thank for so much in my life, he started my career as a pet photographer, my true love and passion in life was found because of him. He has taught me more than any teacher could… and for that I am eternally blessed.ReplyCancel

  • David G.Great photo to go with the blog post!

    Thank you for your review of the book. Good job.ReplyCancel

  • AnoukI agree with you completely. I firmly believe that each and every dog is special in his or her own way. I think that sometimes the grief of our dogs’ deaths is so profound we aren’t willing to open our hearts up to really love and appreciate the dogs that come afterwards.
    I didn’t realise you were a crime novelist. I will have to order your books (although after having read all the Harry Hole books by Jo Nesbo in quick succession and then finding myself freaked out by the dark I’m restricting myself to books without murders for a couple of weeks).ReplyCancel

  • inkpuddleAs someone so very tired of every dog owner and his brother thinking he is qualified to write a book about his personal favorite pup (thanks a lot, Marley & Me … not), I appreciate the review. And when I’m up for another dog-centric read, I will definitely look for this one first.ReplyCancel

  • Liz uribeThank you for letting us know, I just got A Dog Purpose, it hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, but I will get this one too, hopefully they have it here..”even though I shouldn’t be having more cryes, I already have my own issue to cry about… But I guess I like to torture myself. I read Mayas’ first rose and I cried so much, it’s also very beautiful and fast to read.ReplyCancel

  • Debra DucoteyI am going to buy that book as soon as I get the chance. My own wonder dog Sasha left this earth on Jan., 18th 2010. I have a new dog now, but its just not the same. I am still searching for my next wonder dog, will I ever find her/him? I hope to God I do, I miss Sasha more than anything!ReplyCancel

  • LauraThank you. I am picking this up on my way home from work today. I can already sense I will sob uncontrollably while reading this, so will hide out with my two monsters who won’t judge me for my tears.ReplyCancel

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