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I love to read.
I was that pale kid who’s Mom had to shoo her outdoors to “play”, but then as soon as I got out of her sight, I’d curl up under tree or on the swings with a book. I was the adult who always had to pay the overweight charge on my vacation suitcase because it was jam packed with books to be read while lounging poolside.
That changed, to a large degree, when I got dogs.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs more than I can possibly put into words, but man, are they a giant time suck. Walks and grooming and feeding and training and play time and snuggle time and all that eat up a good portion of my life. To me, it’s time well wasted as they give me so much back in exchange for it, but sometimes I do miss the days when my VISA bill was more paperbacks than puppy supplies.
I’m always excited when I get the chance to marry two of my passions together.
This past year, I’ve discovered just how many books for dog lovers are out there. Maybe never noticed them before because I wasn’t looking, but man! Not only are dog people some of the coolest, nicest folks to hang around with and kick-tail bloggers, it seems that there are more than a few excellent writers among us as well.
I recently got the chance to read Follow the Dog Home
Written by three generation of the Walsh family, Follow the Dog Home tells the tale of the many dogs that warmed the hearts of the Walsh family, how the love of a good dog (or a not so good dog) can be a driving force in your life and how ultimately, dogs enrich our lives.
Seeing the story through the eyes of each generation was a lesson in change, if nothing else.
Bob, now in his 70s, grew up and raised his dogs in a time when they had a dog house in the yard, could roam the neighborhood visiting other families and when adopting a dog from the pound was considered risky business.
Kevin, who clearly caught his love of dog from his Dad, shared stories of a time when your childhood dog could go away to college with you, of long drives with a dog as his co-pilot and how he and his wife bought their first dog before they bought their first house.
With Samantha, another generation of dog lovers was born into the Walsh family. This little girl is the future, folks. A passionate dog lover, Samantha wants to be a vet when she grows up. She refers to her dog Tiffany (now at the Bridge) as her big sister, showing just how far dogs come in just a few generations.
Some of the best exchanges in the book are the dialogue between the three writers.
I laughed as Samantha defends her use of the word “poop” to her Grandfather and I marvelled at how the times have changed when Bob wants to gloss over the sadder details of some of the stories and Kevin and Samantha convince him otherwise. He was raised in a different time. You can see the influence of the times in each writer’s style and how they chose to share their stories. To me, this was what made the book unique and memorable, though at times it also made the book a little clunky. The charm and authenticity of the stories make you push through those clunky moments and embrace the story for what it is: a labour of love.
SPOILER ALERT: The story starts with an unbelievable twist.
Newly relocated to the town of Wellesley, Beverly the GSD leads Kevin to a house that he will ultimately discover is the very same house his Father lived in as a boy and where the family’s love of dogs began. An amazing story that had me wondering just what dogs know that us humans are missing, I kind of felt like it was a bit of a spoiler to have it as the first chapter of the book. I think that moment would have awed me a little more at the end of the book, knowing the history, knowing what the spot meant to the family.