In this debut autobiographical novel, a man pays tribute to the many canines that have enriched his life.
Although the book’s narrator doesn’t actually remember the stray black-and-white dog his grandparents took in when he was a child, the family story about his relationship with the pup named Pete previews what would become a lifelong connection to a delightful assortment of canines. The narrator’s mom found the pair lying side by side on the living room rug: “Pete was chewing one of my wood toys to splinters. I was gnawing on one of his old bones.” Now, decades later, the narrator walks to a park with Pippa and Pershing (two of his three current dogs) and ruminates about canines and the changes he has witnessed across the decades. Expecting two important calls during this walk, he muses: “I was struck by how new it all was. Grandparents with one phone, parents with extensions upstairs and down, and me with one I carried in my pocket.” When the narrator left for college, it was the beginning of 15 dogless years, which included “marriage, fatherhood, divorce and visitation.” Then he met Darcy and her dog, Albert: “He looked like the floor part of a push broom.” Eventually, the narrator and Darcy married, and their life together has been filled with canines ever since. At Darcy’s instigation, they began showing Parker, the third member of their current pack. Tankersley (a pen name) informs readers in an author’s note that “the people he writes about are fictional” but “the dogs are not.” Good-humored, conversational prose makes this book a quick, enjoyable read: One breeder “had a ‘how can I help’ you pleasantness like a Siri or Cortina of today” but with a “human undertone of ‘what do you really need?’ ” Yet one section dealing with the Irish derivation of a pup’s name, Grainne, runs on a bit too long. Still, there is an inevitable poignancy sprinkled throughout the novel each time the narrator recalls a beloved companion taking that final trip to the veterinarian. But he doesn’t linger long on those episodes in this lighthearted story. He quickly moves on to the next canine acquisition.
Tender, witty, and articulate with a satisfying conclusion; should appeal to readers who never tire of one more dog tale.