Man + Dog by Nick Wadley

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Man + Dog by Nick Wadley

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Category: Humour
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Whimsical drawings and watercolours of the interaction between man and dog. A gem for any dog lover.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 56 Date: December 2009
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
ISBN: 978-1564785527

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Throughout my life I've lived with dogs or deeply regretted the fact that I lacked a canine companion. Watching a dog – or better still, the interaction between dogs – is infinitely better than anything on television and it's sheer joy to see how man and dog interacts and how, so often, they hold a mirror up to each other.

This is the theme taken by art historian and artist Nick Wadley in his whimsical (and occasionally hilarious) book of drawings and watercolours. They're deceptively simple – some little more than a few lines, such as St Germain and en suite which gently point up the similarities between dogs and their female owners.

It's the watercolours which caught my breath though – in overtures the dog joyfully barks as his owner crouches ready to join in the fun. There isn't a story as such in the book, but it's difficult not to build a narrative in your own mind and overtures moves on to dog and owner gently circling each other as dogs do, with tails in a non-threatening position. Is the owner really going to sniff where I think he's going to sniff? Gradually they sink to the floor together. Is the demure (think Princess Di looking up from under her eye lashes) dog glancing coquettishly away from the man part of the same sequence? I'd like to think so.

Shall we be frank the caption says and dog and man sit opposite each other at a bar table, the dog with a barely-touched glass of red wine and the man some way into a pint of beer. It's clever, but the cigarette in the dog's paw is a touch of genius. The outcome of the discussion wasn't good. Next we see the man, who seems to have graduated to whisky listening to the canine bartender and looking particularly unhappy.

In dogma religions clash, but the Church of England (canine) vicar knows that he is comfortably superior to his human parishioner. I have favourites – I must confess – but they change on each reading as I spot something new. At the moment I'm torn between the dog walkers (where the men look remarkably like their dogs) or dog walker (where a dog is walking two humans on a lead) sequence and the man who has fallen into the sea and is trying to persuade his dog that he is not playing.

I've lost count of the number of times that I've read through this book. Every time I spot something different. Something else makes me chuckle or think. It's a slim book but any dog lover will think it a gem.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

The style is entirely different but if you like this book you will enjoy Old Dogs and any of the other books in our Top Ten Books For Dog Lovers.

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Buy Man + Dog by Nick Wadley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Man + Dog by Nick Wadley at


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