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What is it that dogs have done to earn the title of “man’s best friend”? And more broadly, how have all of our furry, feathered, and four-legged brethren managed to enrich our lives? Why do we love them? What can we learn from them? And why is it so difficult to say good-bye? Join B.J. Hollars as he attempts to find out—beginning with an ancient dog cemetery in Ashkelon, Israel, and moving to the present day.
Hollars’s firsthand reports recount a range of stories: the arduous existence of a shelter officer, a woman’s relentless attempt to found a senior-dog adoption facility, a family’s struggle to create a one-of-a-kind orthotic for its bulldog, and the particular bond between a blind woman and her Seeing Eye dog. The book culminates with Hollars’s own cross-country journey to Hartsdale Pet Cemetery—the country’s largest and oldest pet cemetery—to begin the long-overdue process of laying his own childhood dog to rest.
Through these stories, Hollars reveals much about our pets but even more about the humans who share their lives, providing a much-needed reminder that the world would be a better place if we took a few cues from man’s best friends.
B.J. Hollars is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of numerous books, including Flock Together: A Love Affair with Extinct Birds (Nebraska, 2022), and Go West, Young Man: A Father and Son Rediscover America on the Oregon Trail (Bison Books, 2021).
Introduction: Going to the Dogs
Part 1. Lessons Learned
1. Sniffing for Trouble
2. Old Dogs, New Schticks
3. Cruisin’ for a Bruiser
4. Follow the Leader
5. I Left My Heart in Hartsdale
Part 2. Lessons Lived
6. Apollo’s Deed
7. Bingo Was Her Name
8. The Bionic Dog
9. Letting Luna Lead
10. Travels with Sandy