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January 17, 2022: Dog Help Us

Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read
--Groucho Marx

I just finished reading Ted Kerasote’s book, Pukka’s Promise. He attempts to answer the question, why aren’t domesticated dogs living longer than they are? He (we think) is driven to answer this question as he is acquiring a new puppy. He writes about Pukka’s first two years, and between chapters he writes about the discussions revolving around nutrition, vaccines, spay and neutering, and animal shelters.

Dogs sitting

The final few chapters of Pukka’s Promise center around the kill, no kill animal shelter controversy. He interviews those running both types of shelters – of course those dogs that end up in more affluent area shelters seem to fare better.

As I was reading this chapter, something Pete said came to mind, which was that the Anchorage Library has a no-kill policy. This remark came after I described the library basement, where many of the non- circulating books end up.

The line no-kill policy made me think of the books. I have been resistant to what some have said, which is that the Bright Lights Book Project centers around rehoming books. This is a misnomer. The books are not dogs. They are books. They are therefore salvaged.

To kill or not to kill? That is the question with books and with dogs. With books, this translates to shredding. With dogs, it translates to giving them sodium pentobarbital. With books, this is recycling. With dogs, its recycling if, say, the animal ends up being rendered in a rendering plant.

Some locally want books to be shredded. And some want dogs to be euthanized. Ban books. Ban pit bulls. Abandon books, abandon dogs when you tire of them.

Readers also seem to develop an attachment for books. This could be why, when a book is lent out, it’s so hard to get back. The attachment to animals, it’s the same sort of thing.

Books get tattered and wear out. Dogs get worn out and die. Many dogs, many books, are disposed of before their time. A good book is one that is well worn, with, you guessed it, dog eared pages.

Do dogs have souls? Do books have souls? Some say yes and some say no in response to the first question. I don’t think that many have ever considered the second question. You read a book, and it comes to life.

Sure, a book is an author’s creation. But once the author is done with the book, and another reads it, it takes on a life of its own, one that’s subject to opinion. For example, I enjoyed Kerasote’s research driven writing. But on the other hand, those who are exclusively into narrative-driven prose might think differently.

I have seen readers hug both books and dogs close to their chests.

As some like certain breeds, some like certain genres.

There are obviously many comparisons and contrasts to be made between books and dogs. So these are not as far-fetched as I first thought. And let us not forget, one of the greatest books of all times is entitled Howl.

Next: 18. 1/18/22: Short Days Growing Longer

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