A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Imagine having your attitude adjusted by a puppy. I know that sounds like a commercial tagline for a Disney movie, but trust me, this book is not a saccharine sundae. Instead it’s an insightful book that shows how our reactions and way of thinking can sometimes be changed by the simplest things.
The author and her husband, both teachers at a local university, live in a forested area of Maine, with a sprinkling of farmland. They are both intelligent, sensitive people who take great interest in the natural world outside of their cabin, including camping and kayaking. After adopting a husky/jindo(Korean breed) mix at a shelter, Miles is overwhelmed at the energy required to maintain a young dog. She also realizes the puppy, a shy female named Ari, can teach her things too. So she embarks on an informal experiment, spending a year being open enough to look at the world from a puppy’s point of view and expanding her own horizons. She focuses on Ari’s reactions to nature and other creatures, learning to slow things down and take a more Zen tone towards the world. Along the way we meet unforgettable characters such as Bentley the basset and the vole king.
It’s not all happy romps in the woods, there are crisises, grief and family difficulties. Even their idyllic location is threatened by development. But each of these experiences provide a platform for the author to mature and gain a better understanding of herself and her surroundings. She talks to naturalists, scientists and dog trainers about various issues, which, with her quotes from literature, raises the book from just a simple memoir. Each chapter is prefaced with a photo of Ari at various ages, which provides plenty of smiles. If you’re a sucker for animal books, but can do without excessive cutesiness, this is the book for you.
Skyhorse Publishing 2009 280 pp. ISBN 978-1-60239-638-8
The author’s blog, with photos, is where she charts further adventures with Ari at Out with Ari . At the moment, they’re near Niagara Falls, NY.