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.