For the Dog Days of Winter

Sarah Harrison Smith on January 16, 2018
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There are all sorts of reasons why we call the long, languishing weeks of summer the "dog days." But the New Year, too, has its doldrums, when the excitement of the holidays are past, and we're hunkering down, tightening our belts and our budgets, and looking forward to spring. Let's call them the dog days of winter.

To warm you during this cold season, we offer you ten recent books about dogs -- wonderful, adorable, cute, and courageous dogs. Some have saved the lives of their owners; some are beautifully, or hilariously, decorative; some are the subject of (humane, painless) scientific study that casts light on our relationship with these beloved companions.

The weather may be dismal, but any one of these books will make you feel just a little bit brighter of heart and mind. Take your pick of the litter!


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1. Being Human

By William A. Ewing, with photographs by William Wegman.

Weird and wonderful portraits of Wegman’s Weimaraners from five decades of collaboration include dogs in costume, dogs on bikes, dogs in boxes, and dogs as works of art. Witty, surprising, and often adorable, Wegman’s portraits will make you see both dogs and humans through a new lens.

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2. Afterglow (A Dog Memoir)

By Eileen Myles.

Love and death combine with high art in this elegiac memoir by Myles, a renowned poet who lost Rosie, the pit bull she rescued from the streets, after 16 years of companionship.

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3. Walking with Peety: The Dog Who Saved My Life

By Eric O’Grey with Mark Dagostino. 

In this heartwarming memoir, Eric O’Grey, who was once obese and diabetic, tells the story of how his life changed when he adopted Peety, a plump, middle-aged dog, and the two began to exercise together. O’Grey’s love for Peety led him to become a vegan, lose 150 pounds, and eventually, find love and marriage. Inspired yet?

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4. What It’s Like to be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience

By Gregory Berns.

Berns, a distinguished professor at Emory University, used MRI scans of unrestrained, wide-awake dogs to study their brains in action. What he and his team saw revealed interesting secrets about – among other things – dogs’ responses to the humans they love. And yes, your dog really may love you.

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5. The Dogist Puppies

By Elias Weiss Friedman.

Weiss’s street photos of dogs are wildly popular on social media, and you can see why: these pups have personality, as their owners’ comments confirm. Moxie, a Shiba Inu, for instance, “has a thing for people in shorts. When he sees someone’s hairy legs, he’ll walk up and lick them. Even a stranger.” This big book of little puppies is almost as adorable as the real thing.

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6. All My Dogs

By Bill Henderson, with illustrations by Leslie Moore.

This new paperback edition of Henderson’s widely praised 2011 memoir tells the story of one man’s life through the 13 dogs he’s loved. Henderson is the founder and editor of the Pushcart Prize, which gathers the best writing from small presses, and this lovely little book, from Henderson’s own small press, is charming, funny, profound – and beautifully illustrated.

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At Home with Dogs and Their Designers

By Susanna Salk, with photographs by Stacey Bewkes.

Salk writes that designers have a surprising affinity for dogs “because they of all people understand that beautiful rooms don’t resonate – indeed, they don’t even feel comfortable – if they lack soul.” The pups bring that soul –and a touch of sweetness -- to these grand residences. This is eye candy of the fanciest variety.

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8. All About the Dog: A Dog Lover’s Coloring Book.

This handsome, large format book would be an ideal gift for a dog fancier who enjoys the meditative art of coloring. Interesting facts about dogs accompany portraits of thirty-seven different breeds (and a gallery of mutts) in fun-to-color settings, printed on paper so creamy and thick that ink won’t seep through. Proceeds go to support the historic Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in the U.K.

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9. Rescued: What Second-Chance Dogs Teach Us About Living with Purpose, Loving with Abandon, and Finding Joy in the Little Things

By Peter Zheutlin.

Zheutlin, who lives with two rescue Labradors, says this isn’t a book about how dogs can rescue their rescuers. Rather, it’s about how “they touch us in far deeper ways that can change our human relationships, our habits, out mind-sets, and our lives for the better.”

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10. Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home

Written and illustrated by Nicole J. Georges.

Georges’s graphic-novel memoir is about coming of age as a young Lesbian in the punked-out Pacific Northwest, with Beija, a “bad” dog, as her companion. The two shared some hard-to-love traits (barking and snappishness) but they were just what the other needed.


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