“You see, Arthur is my dog,” I told the vet as she prodded yet another conspicuous lump, this time on my dog’s belly. Arthur has developed benign lipomas since he was 4, each of which is rigorously checked upon discovery. “I got him the day after I graduated from college, and my life was kind of a mess, and well . . . He’s just my dog. Does that make sense?”
The vet peered into Arthur’s eyes with her scope and then fed him another treat for being the excellent boy that he is. “Of course," she said. "Arthur has to live forever.”
“Yes, exactly,” I said. “I’m so glad you understand.”
If you’re a dog person like me, you will understand this exchange. Dogs are and have always been an irreplaceable part of humans' lives. Simon Garfield’s Dog’s Best Friend: The Story of an Unbreakable Bond explores this connection, beginning with the development of the dog-human hunting companion relationship and following the changes that have led us to today's world of designer dogs and designer dog accessories.
Though Garfield often questions the ethics of said changes, he returns throughout the book to his own dog, Ludo, admitting, “We would do almost anything to ensure his continued happiness.” Garfield uses his relationship with Ludo to explore a myriad of delightful doggy topics, from the queen’s corgis and their odd names to dogs who follow their owners' funeral processions. Full of quintessentially British humor, Dog’s Best Friend is a heartwarming read for anyone who wants to know more about why they love their dog.
Similarly, Kelly Conaboy’s The Particulars of Peter: Dance Lessons, DNA Tests, and Other Excuses to Hang Out With My Perfect Dog explores her personal story through her relationship with her dog, Peter. For writerly dog lovers, Conaboy’s book feels familiar. After all, so much of our lives are colored by how we care for our dogs; how could we possibly tell our stories without them?
Hilariously crass, Conaboy speaks aloud the thoughts of us all. Too in love with her dog and defensive of anything that might diminish his reputation in her eyes, she answers questions about Peter’s unknown age and lineage with “ageless, poet,” glorifying his humble beginnings as an abandoned shelter pup.
Both books end with the authors reflecting on their present states, engaged in the process of writing and simply being with their beloved pups. Interestingly (or perhaps not), that is exactly where I am now. Arthur, head on his pillow next to me; me, typing away. Despite knowing our obsession with our dogs is absurd, these moments convince us that no other way of being is possible. “We’re always impossibly happy when we’re together,” ends Garfield. And so we are.