The dog days of summer may be winding down, but for many of us, dogs are an integral part of each day. Two new books explore our lives with these inseparable companions.
In Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond, canine cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, bestselling author of Inside of a Dog, explores a spectrum of tail-wagging topics. Some essays tackle thought-provoking issues like the legal rights of dogs, health problems caused by inbreeding and research on the impact of early sterilization.
Others are more lighthearted, such as the chapter “Things People Say to Their Dogs.” Ever the researcher, Horowitz started capturing snippets of human-to-dog conversations overheard in New York City, and here she presents them to readers who can surely relate: “‘Leave it. We have better ones at home.’ (Man to dog desperately searching for lost tennis ball.)” Another favorite: “‘Hi, honey. Did you vote?’ (Woman to pleased-looking dog outside voting center.)” If you love dogs, and even talk to them, you’re going to rejoice at this entertaining and enlightening book.
Not only do we hold conversations with our dogs, we also take them places. Inspired by John Steinbeck’s classic Travels with Charley, author Peter Zheutlin took his 75-pound rescue Lab mix, Albie, on a six-week journey across America, which he chronicles in The Dog Went Over the Mountain: Travels with Albie: An American Journey.
The travel bug flows through Zheutlin’s genes: He’s a descendant of Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, better known as Annie Londonderry, who cycled 9,000 miles in the 1890s. Zheutlin’s travels were by car, exploring back roads and scenic byways to meet and talk with ordinary Americans along the way. “I wasn’t so much interested in driving across the country as I was in diving into it,” the author explains. He wanted to experience a personal journey but also offer something to the rest of us—“to share a more lighthearted, heartfelt, and dog-friendly tour of America, and in the process remind us what remains wonderful and grand and good about it, even as it seems the country is coming apart at the seams.”
Like his cycling great-grand-aunt, Zheutlin traveled close to 9,000 miles, loosely following Steinbeck’s route from New England to California and back. While the journey itself wasn’t always easy, his easygoing writing style makes for comfortable reading. The book includes a photo section, which (naturally) features the photogenic Albie in just about every picture: enjoying the view from the Grand Canyon, posing in front of a Route 66 sign and making new friends (human and canine).
Your own next adventure might only be as far as the dog park, but reading The Dog Went Over the Mountain may inspire you, like Zheutlin, to end the trip with an ice cream cone and a hug for the dog who is part of your journey.