recess radio program

08/03/05
Barking Through the Dog Days
    by John Cech

It's the "dog days" of summer, that are named for Sirius, the dog star, one of the brightest stars in the heavens at this time of year. But I suspect the dog days are also referring to a dog's favorite activity on a summer's day -- taking a nap in the shade. And this summer, you can relax in the shade, too, with your family's best friend, and some of the many books, films, and recordings about them -- like you'll find in Daniel Kirk's book, Dogs Rule! -- 22 poems and pictures about some of the archetypal dogs that you can find in most households. The poems have been set to music, and the book includes a CD with songs about some of the adventures in the day of the life of most dogs, like going for a walk or a joyful, air-infused ride in the car:

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And then there are the many classic books about dogs, like Jack London's White Fang and The Call of the Wild; Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows; Frederick Gipson's Old Yeller; and, of course, the dog story that gave us the most refined and intelligent dog of them all in Eric Mowbray Knight's Lassie Come Home. The Lassie movies (and TV spinoffs) are readily available at the video stores, as are film versions of the other books I've mentioned. There are endearing, clever little dogs, like Benjie; big dogs, like the St. Bernards in the Beethoven movies; beautifully drawn dogs, like those in the splendid Disney feature length animated film, Lady and the Tramp; and adventurous dogs, like the trio of two dogs and a cat that cross the wilderness together in Homeward Bound. Quite a few pages have been spent trying to imagine what dogs might be thinking. Take, for example, David Milgrim's Dog Brain, about a dog who may not be as incompetent as most of the family thinks he is. He just doesn't want to be trapped into having to fetch the paper or chase sticks, ad infinitum. In Nina Laden's, The Night I Followed the Dog, a boy accidentally notices, when he gets up for a drink of water in the middle of the night, that a limo has pulled up in front of his house to pick up the family pooch. The next night, the boy decides to follow Rover on his after hours ramble. Now, that concept is a real howl.

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Copyright 2005 John Cech

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