Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. —Mark Twain
We're launching our Holiday Gift Guide posts with books for those charmed by the chien. And really, who isn't? Put your hand down, Tracy.
Tray isn't what I'd call a dog lover—more like a dog tolerate-r; something about all that fur stops her well short of love. She is, however, easily charmed by a lovely read, and these books are guaranteed to leave even a dog tolerate-r enchanted.
If you have yet to meet Maira Kalman's books, prepare to fall in love—with her illustrations as much as her prose. Maira Kalman is the quirky, delightful aunt everyone wants to be seated by at the Thanksgiving table. She is also the author of one of my favorite children's books: Ooh-la-la (Max in Love). She deserves a post of her own, but for now, here's a snippet from Beloved Dog:
There are Trees.
Glorious and Consoling.
Changing with the seasons.
Reminders that all things
Change. And change Again.
There are Flowers, Birds,
I Love All of these.
But Above All, I Am Besotted
My brother, who was a beautiful poet himself, introduced me to Mary Oliver years ago and I've been a fan ever since. Her poems are lovely—the kind you don't need a study guide to understand. And now that I know she loves dogs as much as I do, she's officially joined the list of people I'm best friends with in my mind. Here's one of my favorites from Dog Songs:
HOW IT IS WITH US, AND HOW IT IS WITH THEM
We become religious,
then we turn from it,
then we are in need and maybe we turn back,
We turn to making money,
then we turn to the moral life,
then we think about money again.
We meet wonderful people, but lose them
in our busyness.
We're, as the saying goes, all over the place.
Steadfastness, it seems,
is more about dogs than about us.
One of the reasons we love them so much.
Anna Quindlen's Good Dog. Stay. is an oldie, but so good it warrants mentioning here. I'm thinking the whole kindred dog-loving thing may give me a leg up in the imaginary friendship Tracy and I have with her. Not that it's a competition... This book is especially comforting to anyone who has recently lost a beloved dog. Here's a little of what she says about her own sweet dog, Beau:
“...there came a time when a scrap thrown in his direction usually bounced unseen off his head. Yet put a pork roast in the oven, and the guy still breathed as audibly as an obscene caller. The eyes and ears may have gone, but the nose was eternal. And the tail. The tail still wagged, albeit at half-staff. When it stops, I thought more than once, then we’ll know.”