“Canem Obliquitur”

The dog interrupts

I had definitely forgotten how much time and attention a new puppy requires. Clearly I have abandoned my writing practice for the past while, neither posting nor reading others’ posts. I have missed it, but every time I start to gather my thoughts they are scattered. Rather like the toys, chewed up paper towel holders and chew sticks that currently litter my floor.

Yes I am very glad that we adopted our fourth Australian Shepherd puppy. I love the life that she has brought to our home. However, transitioning from a 14 year old dog who would rest peacefully at our feet while we ate to one who absolutely must chew our shoe laces during meal times has been a challenge. We are very grateful for the trainer that we hired in advance of bringing Emmy home with us. She has raised Border Collies, very similar to Aussies, and knows the joys and troubles of rearing very intelligent puppies.

She has been quite frank with us about the bad habits we managed to start in the first two weeks we had the puppy on our own. Emmy is so cute that it hadn’t bothered us that she jumps up. Casey(the trainer) appropriately pointed out that we didn’t want a full grown Aussie jumping up on us. Since we are in our 70’s, this was precisely our caution about getting another dog, so I really appreciate her knowledge.

In the years since we last had a puppy, the market has exploded with toys, chews, “enrichment activities,” and so on for dogs. You can buy old sorts of horrifying things for dogs to chew on including pigs’ noses, bull penis strips, duck heads and chicken crests. Having no wish to have any of these on our floor, I settled for quite innocuous turkey tendons. Since our dogs have been happy to eat them in the past on Thanksgiving(not the bones, just the gristle) I am content with them. Emmy loves them and they keep her away from our shoes at dinner. So does the gate between the dining room and kitchen!

Hello to all. I will try to catch up as I get some spare time!

“Not Exactly a Recommendation”

Usually when I write about a book it is to unconditionally recommend it to my friends here. But in the case of one I recently finished, Hell of a Book by Jason Mott, copyright 2021, I want to be more cautious. I really appreciated the novel, but I suspect that many would not. Hence my “not exactly a recommendation” title.

I generally avoid books that have any quasi supernatural elements. I find that they add little to the plot and are often just flourishes to show off the skill of the writer. But in the case of this particular novel, Mott has found a way through a character The Kid, who may or may not be real, to serve a deeper purpose. The author of the story tours the United States to promote his book called, amusingly enough Hell of a Book. Not until the very end do we even learn the substance of the narrative.

The book manages to send up current book promotion madness and to simultaneously explore dynamics of race in the United States. The satire reminds me more of Jonathan Swift than any other writer, biting and insightful. Mott also riffs on Ralph Ellison’s title The Invisible Man, contending that it is impossible for a black man to be invisible no matter how hard he tries.

Sometimes the best way to tackle a notoriously difficult subject such as race and the murder of innocent black citizens is sideways instead of head on. Mott manages to do just that without my ever feeling that he was showing off. Rather he was using the best of fiction techniques to make several lasting points.

If you do read it, let me know what you think.