Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer)

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Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer)

Category: Pets
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Any dog lover will adore this book. It's a celebration in wonderful words and stunning photographs of the older dog. The occasional sad moment is far outweighed by the laughter. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: December 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1416534990

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As a reviewer I see a lot of books and whilst I read I'm usually wondering about who I'll pass the book on to when I've finished the review. Will it be a friend, the local library or one of our schools? It's a part of my reviewing process to think about where the book will sit most happily. With Old Dogs I was only a few pages in before I was considering whether it should live on my bedside table or in the main bookshelves. The bedside table won. Easily.

I'll confess to a personal interest in the book. You see, we have an old dog. At ten she's getting on, for a Rhodesian Ridgeback, but her years of health problems meant that the birthday last weekend was a minor miracle. The puppy ways are long gone, but she's still capable of a (short) run with one of her friends. I'd like to say that she loves me, but that's an emotion reserved for my husband. I am Staff.

The formula for the book is simple. Hundreds of older dogs were photographed by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Michael S Williamson and this was then reduced to the seventy or so featured in the book. The photographs are all in black and white – glorious black and white – which accentuates every detail, every hair on a greying muzzle, every eye which might not be quite as clear as it used to be. Colour would ruin these portraits – it would take something away.

As you open the book these senior dogs are there on the right-hand side of each double-page spread. Some look you in the eye. Some are frankly disdainful and have no need of you. Their age, their experience is evident on every page and some have sad stories to tell, but you will pity none of these dogs. You will admire what they are and how they have got there. If you love dogs you will know every dog in this book. Breed – or lack of it – is immaterial. These are personalities.

And opposite each dogs is their story, told by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Gene Weingarten. They're not long stories – some are little more than a few sentences – but they are the essence of the dog. The writing is superb. Every sentence is crafted and there isn't an unnecessary word in the book. Do you usually read the Acknowledgements? They made me laugh out loud.

When you talk about older dogs the thought that they might not be with you for that much longer is inescapable and I did wonder if this book might have me in floods of tears. There were a couple of occasions when I had to reach for a tissue but the real deluge came with laughter – the dog chased by a garbage can, which it was dragging along on the end of a lead – and there was little in the way of sadness in the book.

I'm not going to tell you about the individual dogs. You should meet them for yourself and read their stories. Every dog in the book was at least ten years old when they were photographed. As Gene Weingarten says:

If you ask us which of them are still alive, our answer is: They all are.

May old dogs live forever.

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

Booklists.jpg Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer) is in the Top Ten Books For Dog Lovers.
Buy Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer) at Amazon.com.


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