Man and dog take to the road.
Hoping to “celebrate the breadth of human-dog relationships in contemporary life,” journalist Denizet-Lewis (Writing and Publishing/Emerson Coll.; American Voyeur: Dispatches from the Far Reaches of Modern Life, 2010, etc.) chronicles a four-month trip with his Labrador mix, Casey. In a small RV, the two traveled from Provincetown, Rhode Island, to Florida, across the South, through the Midwest to California and back. Along the way, Denizet-Lewis met show dogs and strays, police dogs and pampered pets, and he visited with dog rescuers, trainers, groomers, whisperers, masseurs, photographers and healers. He talked with people suffering from cynophobia (fear of dogs) and others who claimed they could communicate with dogs and translate their messages to humans. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the author visited with dog-loving writer Amy Hempel, who advocates for shelter dogs and pit bulls, which are rarely adopted. Shelter workers tell him that black dogs, also, are hard to place. “Many people subconsciously overlook them,” one shelter worker told Denizet-Lewis, a phenomenon she calls Black Dog Syndrome. The author’s saddest encounter with dogs occurred on a Navajo reservation, where strays abound, and teenagers run over dogs just for sport. From there, Denizet-Lewis left with a new companion, whom he named Rezzy. In North Carolina, he met Rob, an owner of wolfdogs, a combination of wolf and, in this case, Husky. Rob told him that wolves “are shy and misunderstood,” “independent” and “smart as hell,” although they are not affectionate. Unconditional love, though, is what most dog owners desire. The author discovered that whether dogs are capable of love is a subject of much controversy. Some neuroscientists argue that canines do feel love; others think dogs are interested more in treats than in human companionship.
With Americans owning more dogs than any other country in the world, this sprightly, entertaining travelogue should find a delighted readership.