25 November 2006

CHRISTMAS BOOK REVIEW: Christmas Dogs: A Literary Companion

What's more Christmasy than that ideal Christmas puppy sitting under the tree, his neck tied with a beautiful red bow, his gleaming large eyes gazing soulfully at you?

The ideal puppy is just that, idealized, since he's more likely to be knocking the ornaments off the tree, tearing open the presents, or leaving his own "present" on the rug. But that's a puppy and that's why we love them.

This book has the cute Christmas puppy in a Santa hat on its cover and I'd like to say the text lives up to the cover, but this book in general comes off as a bargain-basement version of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book (in fact, the first story is actually from a Chicken Soup volume).

Not that most of the stories aren't touching. Several stories, including "The Christmas After the Wildfires," deal with animal agencies helping both animals and people. There's a Christmas-themed chapter from My Dog Skip and the final story, the one bit of fiction in the volume, is the "Christmas Eve" chapter from One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which most people are probably more familiar with as a Disney film. The Shel Silverstein poem included is amusing.

But so many of the stories are odd or just dull. I couldn't make out heads or tails (pun intended) of "Nice Doggy," which begins "The other day my Welsh springer spaniel, Cooper, gave me a manicure," and just gets odder from there. "Christmas Memories," taken from Southern Fried Divorce, I guess was supposed to be funny. I thought it came off like a bad skit on Blue Collar TV. The one rock-hard reliable offering was the James Herriot piece about Tricki Woo, but that doesn't even take place at Christmastime. Neither does "Neighbors," from Dog is My Co-Pilot, which mentions a Christmas card, but that's about it.

I'd say this was a "buy off the bargain table" type book if the price is cheap enough, but that's just me. I got it for $3.45, which I guess was worth it.

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