Antijo relates the heroic and often funny adventures of a family of Labrador retrievers in this debut book.
“There are prodigies in the dog world,” the author states in the preface to this collection of interconnected stories. Several of those canine geniuses just happen to be the ancestors of Deuce Clarence Jones, a purebred chocolate Lab. Although the dogs’ names are all real, their escapades are fictional. The first tale relates how Bubbling Bedouine, the Finnish national champion, escapes from the World Global Dog Show to woo Tendercare Muskelunge Debbie, a black Lab. Her chocolate puppies come as quite a surprise to her owners. Subsequent yarns follow one of their puppies, Tendercare Bubbling “Bucky” Buckeye, and then his puppy, Skaggs Westwood Gus. The animals’ monikers may be a mouthful, but the human characters also sport grandiose names, such as Eustis Izzielustus, a failed dog handler–turned-deckhand, and Robbier Rafferty, an unlucky bank robber. These lighthearted stories are bound to elicit more than a few laughs as they showcase the felicitous qualities and bravery of these dogs; Bucky uses his powerful nose to sniff out a thief on a plane, and Gus rescues the hapless Eustis when he falls overboard. The tales take the reader from the Snow Hotel, where getting out of bed without slippers can result in getting stuck to the icy floor, to Niagara Falls on April Fools’ Day, when daredevils are allowed to jump over the falls or ride down them in a barrel. Antijo shares intriguing details about breeding and showing champion dogs as well as captaining a cargo ship, running a fishing trawler, and even collecting pollen for drug companies. The variety of situations holds the reader’s interest, although the text can sometimes veer toward overexplanation and become repetitive, a minor flaw. The first in a series, the book ends with the arrival of Deuce Clarence Jones and a slight cliffhanger.
Vibrant stories that should amuse readers who love valiant dogs.