When I picked up Dog Gone I had no idea what I’d find beyond a story about a family trying to find a dog lost while hiking. What I encountered was a surprisingly intimate and uplifting tale about a family confronting a crisis. Toutonghi is a savvy writer who knows that the roots of our reactions to an emergency can lie deep in our past. Toutonghi reveals astonishing stories about this family, about their personal tragedies, triumphs, and travels so that we can understand what was really at stake. And you get to read about a great dog named Gonker, and others like him, while pondering the joy that is having a companion animal.
The very best authors shine a light on the darkest recesses of our imagination and ignorance. Their books take us off the edge of the map and show us there aren't monsters here but something misunderstood. Bronwen Dickey is such an author and Pit Bull is such a book. Dickey vividly illustrates the history and cultural phenomenon of this dog with many profound insights along the way. Most importantly she shows that we have all had a hand in the pit bulls plight, from the well intentioned to the misinformed to the outright racist and discriminatory. A powerful, moving tribute that everyone should read, it is one of my favorite books this year.
This review is dedicated to Thea, Pax, Joanie, and Buster—some of P&P’s canine friends. We like having dogs around. Even the most diehard cat fans among us agree that it makes the workday a little easier to get through when there is a friendly (furry) face and a cold nose nearby. Dogs have a unique way of making us happy, even when we don’t want to be, even when we don’t think we can be happy. Maira Kalman got her dog Pete when her husband Tibor was dying. It seemed like a bad idea for someone who had always been afraid of dogs. But somewhere in a “remote part” of her brain, she knew a dog would help her family get through their tragedy. She was right, he did. Having Pete revealed a new world of unconditional love, humor, comfort, and fun that she had never known before. Beloved Dog (Penguin Press, $29.95) is Kalman’s tribute to Pete and to the dogs that she has drawn and written about throughout her career.