By the same author as All Over But the Shoutin’. Which I had forgotten about, but reminded myself of via my own review, and now I feel this one rounds the other out nicely. It’s kind of a memoir, mostly focused on the dog. The author lived with his mother and brother on a small farm, in his older age. Struggling with some health issues, just getting through each day and keeping the place more or less running. They took in a stray dog that had lots of problems. Half blind, loved to chase everything, always getting into all kinds of trouble. Author would tell everyone what a bad dog he was, worst dog he’d ever have. Never minded unless he had his own reasons too, that dog. At the beginning you get a sense they wondered why they bothered to keep him around. Then they started to tolerate his ways, quit expecting him to change (though he did mellow some after finally being neutered). And at the end, you get a sense that this phrase “he’s a bad dog” was said with pride, and even fondness. The dog really behaved awfully, but he needed a home after living rough for who-knows how long, and when he saw it was good here, he stuck by his people. Just sitting companionably on the porch when someone was too unwell to do much more than sit and gaze down the driveway. He spent hours in the house (though usually preferred being outside) being near his elderly mother, an ear to all her stories when she lost family during Covid. When folks needed him, the dog was there. I didn’t realize how recent this book was, how current to times, until I read about their fears of Covid, struggles with lockdown, grief that went unattenuated- no funerals or family gatherings to honor someone’s passing. That made it very much more real to me, but also kind of eerie, as I don’t often read books that echo so soon something I’ve gone through. (I didn’t loose any family members during Covid, but other aspects of that story, I could relate to).
It’s not all sad though, not by a long shot. There’s wry commentary and quiet moments and lots of humor, especially at the dog’s misbehavior. I think my favorite part was when the dog tried to herd kittens in the barn- the episode included a large paper sack- and I was laughing so hard. This author is a really good storyteller. I ought to read more of his work.
Borrowed from the public library.