Who doesn’t love a good dog story? And sometimes it’s best if you can pick one up and read it in just a few minutes. That’s what the publishers of “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Dogs” are counting on.
The book is a collection of 57 short stories organized into six chapters with titles like “Puppy Love,” “Unleashed!” and “In the Doghouse.” So, if you’re in the mood for a cute puppy story or the tale of dog in trouble, you can turn to the right chapter and just pick one out.
Although virtually every story is by a different writer, this isn’t a collection of poorly written pieces by random dog owners, as is sometimes the case with such books. The stories are well-penned – or (mostly) well-polished by an editor – with the attention to detail that makes such a book readable and enjoyable. Unfortunately, the photos are family photos of sometimes questionable quality. Regardless, it is nice to be able to put a canine face with each of the stories.
In the first chapter, “Puppy Love,” we’re treated to “The Dutch Progeny,” by Kathe Campbell. In just 176 words, she tells about replacing a beloved Keeshond with a new puppy the very day the old dog had to be put to sleep. It was strictly kismet that made it happen, and Campbell concludes that “our beloved lady had forgiven our haste in finding another Dutch descendant.” Bobby Barbara Smith’s story, “A Facebook Affair,” is more than twice the length of Campbell’s, but still a quick read. She explains that she fell in love with an abandoned puppy online, but knew it wasn’t time for another dog. After agreeing to foster the pup for the holidays, she and her husband, of course, ended up adopting the little Dachshund-Yorkshire Terrier mix. For a good chuckle, Pat Nelson tells the story of how her Great Dane-Labrador-Poodle mix got its Spanish name, Brisa for “breeze,” from a place in New Mexico called The Dump and how the dog finally wormed its way into her bed.
The chapter entitled, “Unleashed!,” brings “Stop, Thief!” from Gina Mulligan, who chronicles her Golden Retriever puppy’s love of stealing things – even at the dog park. “All is affable, and I look away for just a moment. When I look back, Coda has abandoned his friend and trots over to a lady on a bench. His mark is sitting cross-legged and wearing a new pair of leather flip-flops. Coda charms her with his best wiggling and wagging as he approaches. He seems genuinely enthusiastic, so I don’t intervene. The woman smiles and reaches out to pet Coda’s head, but instead of waiting for his pat, Coda yanks a flip-flop right off the woman’s foot and makes a dash for it.
“Everyone except the lady now missing a shoe chases Coda around the park. I worry his slobber is ruining the shoe leather. But why worry about slobber when there’s a mud puddle in the corner? Yep, Coda gave up the chase and dropped the shoe right in the mud. I apologize to the woman and offer to turn my boy over to the authorities. The now one-shoed woman asks that I rinse her muddy sandal with the hose – which I did of course – then she limps off with her Boxer. I still wonder if the shoe survived, but I’ll never know because I never saw the woman again. Who can blame her? The dog park is obviously a dangerous area, riddled with hoodlums.”
Also in this chapter is “The Legendary Miss Ellie,” by Maggie Ryland, D.V.M. In her story, she recounts an encounter with a cougar. “As I approached the bend in the trail, the barking stopped and everything suddenly became silent. Birdsong ceased, and the subtle rustling of aspen leaves and the ‘“tchrring’” of the omnipresent red squirrels subsided. All at once I heard a furious thrashing of snow and saw Miss Ellie churning back down the trail toward me. Her legs moved so fast that they became a blur in the icy cloud of white crystals being thrown into the air by her flailing paws.
“She hurtled down the snowy slope toward me, and as I focused my gaze behind her, I saw an enormous cinnamon-colored animal with a tail as long as a picnic table. The animal was nearly three times Ellie’s size and was cantering closely behind her, close enough that if it had fully extended its front legs, it would easily have touched her. I thought of images from countless ‘“National Geographic’” episodes I’d seen on TV, images of lions and cheetahs bringing down hapless wildebeests and exhausted gazelles.”
I won’t spoil the ending, but, just so you know, Miss Ellie does survive the encounter, and is forever more known as “The Cougar Dog” in her small Oregon community.
The book’s final chapter is “In the Doghouse.” In “A Higher Power than the Law,” Sioux Roslawski admits to planning a crime. She and her friend strategized how to rescue a Beagle from its neglectful owner. Although Roslawski didn’t steal the dog in the end, Rosie did end up with her friend, loved and cared for along with her other dogs.
“Speck,” by Barbara Carpenter, is the tale of a couple whose children have grown and moved out, along with the variety of dogs and cats they had over the years. They have proclaimed there will be no more dogs in their home. Then…
“[O]ur pastor called to ask a favor. ‘Would you be interested in taking a dog that belongs to a sweet lady who has fallen and broken her hip?’ My first thought was, ‘Sorry. No way.’ The pastor continued. ‘The woman has been in the hospital for several weeks and is no longer able to care for the dog. He’s been in a kennel for over a month now.’ ‘Sorry, not interested.’ ‘The dog is a 5-year-old chocolate Lab, housebroken, well-behaved.’ ‘Nope. Don’t want any more Labs, thank you very much.’ ‘They are running out of options.’
“And with his last plea, my heart dropped. I didn’t want another dog—he would own me! I would be responsible for him for the rest of his life, maybe even mine. Pastor continued. ‘Would you and your husband just go look at the dog? His name is Speck.’ My heart dropped lower.”
Of course, they took in the dog.
“In less than a week, Speck became part of our family, adored by our children and grandchildren. He’s polite, obedient, barks only at approaching vehicles and strangers (as well as geese on the lake and howling coyotes at night), and we absolutely love him. My husband, who would never have a house dog, is now perfectly content to have Speck curled up at his feet every evening. Speck is inside the house more than he is outside, and he has yet to spend a night in the $200 doghouse outside! I kind of doubt that he ever will.”
Isn’t that the way it always goes?
“Not Your Mother’s Book…on Dogs” is the third in a series of story collections written by regular people, available wherever books are sold and published by Publishing Syndicate.The first two were “On Being a Woman” and “On Being a Stupid Kid.”