Doggone it!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not a fan of talking animals.

I love animals (I have a pure white shorthair cat named Missy, and a shih tzu- maltese mix named Macky), but in books, they’re usually one of three things: a) sickeningly cutesy, b) wise and all-knowing, or c) sarcastic and wisecracking.

The persona in Peter Mayle’s A Dog’s Life (book #72 for 2009) belongs to that third category, unfortunately.

Now I’m a big fan of Peter Mayle, but this is probably my least favorite book of his, not that it isn’t well written (he’s one of the best contemporary writers I’ve read), but because I just couldn’t get myself to buy the fact that it was a dog talking to me.

A Dog’s Life is about Boy, the Mayles’ dog, and how he goes from unwanted puppy to abused servant to thieving stray, and finally as a member of the Mayles’ Provencal household. In all fairness, the idea of a dog narrator is quite original, and Boy is very eloquent (with an astoundingly sophisticated vocabulary!), but I got the feeling that he talked too much.

Boy was going on and on and on about well, dog stuff — going after the mailman, getting a girlfriend, jumping on the bed, knocking down a glass of wine, chasing cats, chewing shoes, and all other things dogs do — and some of it is amusing, but it gets tiring after awhile. I mean, just how long can a person stand reading about the excruciating details of a dog’s life?
I love dogs, but this book still fails to sustain the interest for me.

My copy: trade paperback, local mooch

My rating: 2/5 stars


By the way, this was the only book I finished during the trip I took up to the mountains (Sagada, Mountain Province and Bontoc, Mountain Province) with some book club friends.

Caught reading on the bus

I brought along four other books but between the long hours of travel (mostly on zigzagging roads), the seven-hour spelunking and the various other treks we made, I didn’t even make a dent in them. But it was a great trip, and my reading ratio can afford to slack off a bit. Here are some photos, just so you know what I’ve been up to:

Squeezing through
in front of a mushroom-shaped rock

on top of a frog-shaped rock

by the waterfalls

what locals refer to as taplod (top load)
giant bamboo

the rice terraces

More photos here:

I’m off on an islandhopping trip next week, hopefully I can get some reading done then.

Doggie 101

(Making up for lost blogging time… This week has been trying, and the book I’m currently reading is taking me such a long time… harr.)
Shortly after we got our new (old) dog Macky (his old family migrated to Canada), who is somewhere between a shih tzu and what looks like an old english sheepdog (they told us he’s a shih tzu), I found a book that made the transition easier for us: The Dog Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and advice on Lifetime Maintenance by Dr. David Brunner and Sam Stall (illustrated by Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum).
Although a bit pricey for my regular Book Sale standards (P160), this immediately caught my attention primarily because of its cute vector graphics (it’s from one of my favorite publishers — Chronicle Books, which publishes a lot of quirky books), but mostly because of its smart concept.
It’s a pet care book that reads like an instruction manual for a gadget. The back reads:

At last! A Beginner’s Guide to Canine Technology

Pee stains on the carpet. Barking at all hours of the night. That embarrassing thing he does with your leg. It’s enough to make you cry out, “Why doesn’t my dog have an owner’s manual?” And now, thankfully, he does.

Through step by step instructions and helpful schematic diagrams, The Dog Owner’s Manual explores hundreds of frequently asked questions: Which breeds interface best with children? How can I program my model to fetch? And why is its nose always wet? Whatever your concerns, you’ll find the answers right here — courtesy of celebrated veterinarian Dr. David Brunner and acclaimed author Sam Stall. Together they provide plenty of useful advice for both new and experienced dog owners.

The chapter headings read: Welcome to your new dog! (includes diagram and parts list, memory capacity, product life span); Overview of Makes and Models (product history, top selling models, pre-acquisition checklists); Home installation; Daily Interaction; Basic Programming; Fuel Requirements; Exterior Maintenance; Growth and Development; Interior Maintenance; Emergency Maintenance, and Advanced Functions.
And the schematic diagrams are really schematic diagrams, and are quite entertaining. The book can show you how to give your dog a Heimlich maneuver, get your dog in a car, identify rabies, calculate age in dog years, give your dog a bath, and many more!

Tonight (several months later), I found The Dog Owner’s Maintenance Log (unused, for P15!), which is a spiral bound record book. It’s a great companion to the book, because you can personalize the details and use it to keep track of your dog’s progress. I plan to fill in this one (hehe, read: get my sister to) with Macky’s medical info and other important notes.

Squee for Book Sale! And squee for compulsive book buying!


My copy: Dog Owner’s Manual and Dog Owner’s Maintenance Log, both paperback
My rating: both 5/5 stars