Do you love dogs? Over the past 55 years, I’ve had three: a ginger-colored Cocker Spaniel named “Ginger”, a black and grey-speckled Wirehaired Terrier named “Pepper”, and a black Chow Chow named “China”.
These three dogs had one thing in common, a clueless owner who knew nothing about how to properly train a dog. As a result, my dogs were nervous, nippy, disobedient and unruly. After being pulled off of my feet and having my shoulder dislocated by China, I took her to a well-known training school for guard dogs. The trainer directed me and China to stand far away from the other dogs, all big German Shepherds, Dobermans and Rottweilers. The other owners snickered at me and my big fluffy Chow Chow, and then asked the trainer if she was afraid that my dog would “get hurt” by the other dogs. The trainer replied angrily “That’s for YOUR protection…That Chow could kill any dog here.” That scared me and the other owners. To make a long story short, obedience school did little to improve China’s behavior or my dog-training skills; it was too late for us to unlearn too many bad habits.
I recently read an amazing first novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, an epic story about a boy and his dogs, selected as one of the best books of 2008 by numerous magazines and newspapers around the country:
This book definitely deserves to be called “a great American novel”. Author Stephen King loved it, and wrote one of the best reviews and recommendations for the book:
“I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Dog-lovers in particular will be riveted by this story, because the canine world has never been explored with such imagination or emotional resonance. Yet in the end, this isn’t a novel about dogs or heartland America — although it is a deeply American work of literature. It’s a novel about the human heart, and the mysteries that live there, understood but impossible to articulate. Yet in the person of Edgar Sawtelle, a mute boy who takes three of his dogs on a brave and dangerous odyssey, Wroblewski does articulate them, and splendidly. I closed the book with that regret readers feel only after experiencing the best stories: It’s over, you think, and I won’t read another one this good for a long, long time. In truth, there has never been a book quite like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I thought of Hamlet when I was reading it (of course… and in this version, Ophelia turns out to be a dog named Almondine), and Watership Down, and The Night of the Hunter, and The Life of Pi; but halfway through, I put all comparisons aside and let it just be itself. I’m pretty sure this book is going to be a bestseller, but unlike some, it deserves to be. It’s also going to be the subject of a great many reading groups, and when the members take up Edgar, I think they will be apt to stick to the book and forget the neighborhood gossip. Wonderful, mysterious, long and satisfying: readers who pick up this novel are going to enter a richer world. I envy them the trip. I don’t reread many books, because life is too short. I will be rereading this one.” — Stephen King
I loved reading it too!