Monday, June 28, 2010

Mondo Canine

Compiled and edited by Jon Winokur

As it says on the cover, it is a treasury of quotations, anecdotes, essays, and lore in celebration of doggie joie-de-vivre. This is an amusing, sometimes sad, sometimes inspiring collection of stories, snippets and quotes. One of my favorite quotes from the book is by Jerome K. Jerome, author of Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) who says, "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." Having a fox terrier, I know this is true.
The hardest and most touching part of the book to read was the section containing stories where owners say that final goodbye to their beloved dogs. It also has a section on dog heroes. One of my favorites of that section is the story of King, a German shepherd mix who saved his family one night when their house caught fire:
King ... literally walked through fire to save his masters' lives. At 3:30 a.m. on December 22, 1980, Howard and Fran Carlson and their daughter Pearl were asleep in their home in Granite Falls, Washington, when flames from an electrical fire erupted in their kitchen and roared through the house. King entered the house from his outdoor sleeping area, ran into Pearl's bedroom, tore off the blankets, and began tugging her arm, finally pulling her out of bed. Pearl ran screaming through the thick smoke into her parents' room. Fran woke her husband—who had recently been hospitalized with lung disease—led him to an open window and told him to jump. Then she grabbed Pearl, who in the confusion had wandered into the living room. Fran opened another window, pushed Pearl out, and then jumped herself. At that moment King appeared at Pearl's window. He was trying to bark, but all he could manage was a squeak. Fran ordered King to jump, but when he ran back toward the master bedroom instead, Fran realized that Howard was still in the burning house. Fran made her way back through the smoke and flames toward the sound of King's whining and found Howard lying semiconscious on the floor. She helped him to his feet, and they managed to break open a sliding glass door and jump to safety, followed closely by King. "He was the last to leave," she said. "He wouldn't budge before we were outside."
It wasn't until daybreak that the Carlsons saw the singed hair on King's body and his burned, swollen paws. They discovered that his metal chain collar had become so hot it had burned his throat, preventing him from barking normally. And when King refused food, they found wood splinters in his mouth and realized that to save his family, King had gnawed through a plywood door.

This is a fun book to read and I really enjoyed it. It is jammed pack full of amusing and informative tidbits and amply illustrates just how much dogs add to our lives.

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