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From the Dog's Point of View

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11.08.03

What would it be like to see the world as man’s best friend sees it?  Some writers, dog companions undoubtedly, possess acute powers of observation which inform these realistic and very appealing tales told from the perspective of man’s loyal buddy.

Dog On It: a Chet and Bernie Mystery
Spencer Quinn
Chet the Jet flunked out of police school (“I’d been the best leaper in K-9 class, which had led to all the trouble in a way I couldn’t remember exactly, although blood was involved” – something to do with cats in open country), but he is a dedicated detective. In this suspenseful mystery, Chet and his partner Bernie, former cop and owner of the Little Detective Agency, located in the Valley of a western state, investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl who has gotten mixed up with some unsavory types. Chet’s doggy ways and his endearingly hard-boiled voice, along with the real mystery, will captivate readers. Full of heart and occasionally mischief, Chet is intensely loyal to Bernie, who, though distracted by issues that Chet has difficulty understanding—like divorce, cash flow, and child custody—is quite likeable himself, in his flawed, all-too-human way. No matter that Chet doesn’t understand other things like maps (he can sniff his way home)—he is a skilled sleuth who finds the girl and solves the case. There is genuine suspense and intrigue, combined with humor and deep insight into the bond between dog and man. No fluff here. “Dog On It” is followed by “To Fetch a Thief”, “Thereby Hangs a Tail”, and the soon-to-be-published “The Dog Who Knew Too Much”. (Available in print and audio.)

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein
This is another view of the bond that binds dog and man. Aging canine Enzo reviews his life on the eve of his death. Enzo, a philosopher at heart, is not afraid of dying. In fact, he is convinced that he will return as a man in his next life (he has seen a television documentary on the Mongolian belief that a good dog will reincarnate as a man), so he prepares by making a careful study of human behavior. In so doing, he provides the reader with a guide for living.

At first, Enzo is Denny’s sole companion and loyal partner. When Denny falls in love with Eve, Enzo is jealous but after baby Zoe is born, Enzo assumes his role as the family's unconditional protector, especially after Eve is diagnosed with brain cancer. After her death, Eve’s parents drag Denny into a bitter custody battle for Zoe, and Enzo, in spite of his canine limitations, passionately defends Denny and even alters the course of events. Enzo, who has watched countless televised races, brings thrilling track scenes and driving lessons into the drama. The racing framework creates perfect metaphors for the life lessons Enzo recalls.     

Readers who enjoy Mitch Albom or Richard Paul Evans (“The Walk”) will love this. Keep a box of tissues at hand, and persevere; the outcome is worth it. (Available in print and audio.)

White Fang
Jack London
Rachel Maderik recommends “White Fang”, the story of a half-dog, half-wolf who was born in the wilds of the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. He was raised as a puppy in a Native American camp, where he was treated harshly by both humans and fellow dogs, and this causes him to develop into a violent animal unable to trust any man or beast. He ends up being forced into dogfighting, where his ferociousness, bred of a hatred for all living things, makes him a nearly invincible fighter. If the book ended here, it would surely be a depressing, unpleasant story to read, but instead White Fang is rescued by a kind-hearted man who teaches him how to trust others and what it means to be loved. I personally don’t know a lot about dog psychology, but Jack London seems to have a really good understanding of how dogs think; the story is told mostly from the point of view of White Fang, and thus it gives you a fascinating picture into how a dog might perceive the world around him, deciding who to trust, learning the rules of the human world, and figuring out how to apply these rules as his circumstances change from having to fight for his life in the wilds, to becoming a domesticated animal who fits in with human civilization.  (Available in print, downloadable audio, eBook, and video)  

We can suggest more great stories told from a dog’s point of view. Give us a call at 988-2541 or visit www.tcplweb.org.

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