Woman’s And Man’s Best Friend

Some may say that I never really had a pet, but that isn’t true. I mean, when I was a lad, many decades ago, I owned small turtles and fish. They’re pets, right? I liked them and took care of them. And maybe they liked me, though that of course is something I wasn’t able to determine. Still, despite my diligent efforts to make their lives healthy and comfortable, the wee f*ckers bit the dust left and right. It was disappointing to know that the turtles preferred riding the train bound for reptile heaven more than hanging out in a shoe box in my bedroom, but what can you do? In regard to the fish, all I can say is that their main talent was jumping out of their tank and landing on the floor when nobody was around. I guess you’ve heard that fish don’t do well when not in water.

As for significant pets — cats and dogs — well, I’ve never lived with one, not when growing up nor during the many years since I left my parents’ home. I believe that this places me in a tiny minority. And I doubt if I’ll ever join the majority. At this point I’m way too old, most likely, ever to take the plunge.

Here’s the thing, however: Though cats aren’t my favorite creatures, I dig dogs. Certain dogs anyway — those that are smart, playful and able to size up situations. When you look deep into the eyes of the ones that meet said description, you realize that their essence isn’t much more than a stone’s or a stick’s throw away from yours. Yeah, dogs without a doubt can be cool.

That fact was driven home to me last month when I read a book that I think would hit the sweet spots of anyone who owns or otherwise admires woman’s and man’s best friend. Its title is A Dog’s Life. Supposedly written by the late Peter Mayle, I adored it. (Mayle was a Brit who, when middle-aged, moved to a small town in France. There he penned A Year In Provence, a best-selling memoir released in 1989. It made him famous. You can read more about him by clicking here.)

A Dog’s Life, which entered the marketplace in 1995, was my first encounter with Mayle. To create this book, he placed a pen and pad before his treasured dog Boy, instructing Boy to tell it like it is and was. Somehow Boy was able to manipulate the writing implement, producing an autobiography that goes down as easily as a glass of iced tea on a sweltering summer day. Man, it ain’t right that Mayle took credit for Boy’s work!

Boy, whose high opinion of himself permeates A Dog’s Life, is a fount of slippery wisdom and of cutting remarks. Here is a paragraph, one of dozens I could cite, that displays his self-assurance and brain power. And, yes, his coolness.

If, like me, you have a logical turn of mind, a self-indulgent nature, and a frequently dormant conscience, there is a certain aspect of human behavior that can put an immense strain on the patience. It’s spoken of, always in sanctimonious tones, as moderation — not too much of this, not too much of that, diet and abstinence and restraint, colonic irrigation, cold baths before breakfast, and regular readings of morally uplifting tracts. You must have come across all this and worse if you have any friends from California. Personally, I’m a great believer in the philosophy of live and let live, as long as you keep your proclivities to yourself. Follow the road of denial if that’s what you want, and all I’ll say is more fool you and spare me the details.

Boy and I, had we known one another, would have become pals. Of that I’m certain. In any case, I thank him for writing one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in recent years.

Girls and boys, it’s time for me to go. Somewhat fittingly, I shall leave you with two musical numbers of the canine variety. The first, a song called Dog, played on the radio, totally appropriately, on a day during which I was reading A Dog’s Life. Damn good, it was written and recorded a few years ago by Charlie Parr, a not-at-all-famous singer-songwriter and guitar picker. Another singer-songwriter and guitar picker, the mega-famous Neil Young, also composed an ode to a dog. Dating from 1992, his Old King is an excellent companion to Parr’s work. Here they are. Thanks for your attention. Goodbye till next time!

137 thoughts on “Woman’s And Man’s Best Friend

  1. gabychops December 7, 2021 / 2:04 am

    I love this post; the extracts, the videos, and of course, the dogs!

    Thank you!

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Annika Perry December 7, 2021 / 2:52 am

    Neil, you and a dog would be kindred spirits! You should get one right away! 😀 As for fish, they do have a habit of jumping the tank. Years ago we bought my son a fish tank and some fish … an interest that lasted about a year and then became my husband’s responsibility. Last month the last fish died and we had a little ceremony in the garden … silly and moving at the same time. I love the sound of the book and devoured Mayle’s A Year In Provence- one I’ll definitely look out for! Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Paddy Tobin December 7, 2021 / 4:10 am

    A very enjoyable book, I imagine for I haven’t read it … yet! By chance, one of the blogs I follow is written by a dog, one who is very observant of horticultural matters and reports on the activities of his human in the garden. It’s an interesting literary technique but posting comments on that blog leads to a peculiar feeling of “what the hell am I doing, talking to a dog?” Woof!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Paddy Tobin December 7, 2021 / 11:43 am

        Now, now, we couldn’t say that – though the owner would agree, I believe.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael Graeme December 7, 2021 / 5:46 am

    I grew up with cats and my aunt always had dogs, all of them great fun in their different ways. I’m allergic to both, so have passed my adult years in exclusively human company. I still harbour an inkling for a smart little dog called Snowy when my kids fly the nest. I haven’t read that book, but I should. The movie of the book “A Good Year” is permanently in my top ten.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jane Sturgeon December 7, 2021 / 6:31 am

    What a lovely post, Neil. Thank you. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. swabby429 December 7, 2021 / 6:45 am

    My parents did not allow us to have dogs or cats when I was a boy. After I left home, my sister convinced dad to allow her to have a cat. After all of us kids left home, dad and mom adopted a Sheltie pup. It was great to see the change in dad’s demeanor. Meantime, I do not have a dog. There is Orange the cat who belongs to someone else yet visits me most mornings.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Laurie Graves December 7, 2021 / 8:06 am

    Oh. My. Gosh.”Follow the road of denial if that’s what you want, and all I’ll say is more fool you and spare me the details.” This would make a great line on an “Inspirational” poster. Oh, how I love it! Also love dogs, as you will not be surprised to learn. “A Dog’s Life” is definitely going to the top of my TBR list. (I’ve read other books by Mayle, but not that one.) Really good music, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. tylerus December 7, 2021 / 9:03 am

    Always had cats, but not the last few years. One day, perhaps, yes. More likely, I’ll opt for a dog. I need a best friend. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Lynette d'Arty-Cross December 7, 2021 / 9:04 am

    I had forgotten about that book! Thanks for the reminder. I had dogs for many years and always planned to read Mayle’s dog book.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. JOYCE HAMILTON December 7, 2021 / 9:05 am

    Always had cats but like dogs. Always like your music.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Deb December 7, 2021 / 9:16 am

    I’ve read the Mayle books numerous times, but wasn’t aware of this one.Thanks for the tip!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Paula B December 7, 2021 / 9:50 am

    My dog (named Buster Posey) loved the book excerpt, told me he can totally relate, and vowed to buy the book for me for Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Helen Devries December 7, 2021 / 10:08 am

    There have always been dogs in the house since I was a child…they have trained me well.

    I don’t know if you might think of this…could you take in an elderly dog from a shelter?

    Generally they end up there when their owner dies and they don’t last long in shelter conditions whereas with a family they have a good few years left in them.They are house trained, not demanding, just would like to live out their days with a soft cushion, food and kindness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 11:29 am

      Hi, Helen. I’m so used to not having a dog, it would be hard for me to change now. But your suggestion is a good one, and I’ll keep it in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jacqui Murray December 7, 2021 / 10:43 am

    I love books penned from the dog’s perspective. It’s hard to do and usually fails, but there are some great efforts. This sounds like one. And Neil Young to finish off the post–there’s little better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 11:34 am

      Morning, Jacqui. Mayle’s book is really good. It’s clever, funny, and insightful. Mayle truly has a way with words.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Sam Gridley December 7, 2021 / 11:37 am

    Thanks! Great way to start my day.

    In second grade my daughter wrote a “book” about the pets she’d had in the past: gerbils, a guinea pig, a frog. In each case the pet died, and her older brother was the one who came to tell her. The book concludes by saying that she didn’t know when her current pet, a dog, would die because her brother hadn’t told her yet.

    The book was recently discovered in our house, and our four-year-old granddaughter loved it.

    No accounting for taste.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. greenpete58 December 7, 2021 / 11:49 am

    You might want to read “Stickeen.” It’s a short story by John Muir about a dog he befriended on a hike in Alaska. Absolutely the best animal story I’ve ever read.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Robert Parker December 7, 2021 / 12:15 pm

    Two good tunes, Neil, thanks! I always think of “Slow Dog” by Belly, a tune from the ’90’s, weird lyrics and backstory, but catchy.
    I’m pretty convinced dogs do go to heaven. And even if there’s no fire hydrants, I’m sure there’s trees up there, and pretty sure that’s why rain smells funny sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. JT Twissel December 7, 2021 / 12:46 pm

    Oh golly. I’ve had either dogs or cats (or both) all my life. They are a pain in the butt if you like to travel. So I just don’t know! Have you read Travels with Charlie by Steinbeck? It’s another great dog book. Love those songs, thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 3:41 pm

      Hi. Right, the Steinbeck book is a good one. I know that I had a copy, but I’m not sure if it’s still in the house. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Have a good week.

      Like

  19. mjcd2017 December 7, 2021 / 2:15 pm

    Great, great post … which made me switch to Amazon and order the book right away (happily snatching up a used version at a great bargain price). Can’t wait for it to be delivered to read it. There have been great dogs in my close family’s past – a German Shepherd, a beagle, a dachshund, a labrador, … – and some great cats as well. In my case, I adopted a 15-year-old black and white tomcat last year, my first “real” pet. Even though I did love my desert running mouse Speedy very much despite the short two year life expectancy. Very looking forward to your next post!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 3:45 pm

      Hi, and many thanks for your input. I’m guessing that the mouse and the tomcat weren’t in your house at the same time (?!)

      Liked by 2 people

      • mjcd2017 December 7, 2021 / 9:46 pm

        That’s right! 😁 The mouse was my pet in my early teen years … so over 30 years ago 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Rosaliene Bacchus December 7, 2021 / 2:25 pm

    When I was a kid growing up in Guyana, dogs were kept as watchdogs and slept outdoors. Over the years, I’ve had too many bad encounters with dogs to ever consider having one as a pet to share my couch and bed. Yet, I do agree that some dogs are adorable and “can be cool.” The official video clip of Charlie Parr’s song “Dog” is very touching: “a soul is a soul” and Charlie’s soulful dog saves a life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 3:48 pm

      Hi, Rosaliene. Charlie’s song is real good. It was “destiny” for me to hear it during the time I was reading the Mayle book.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. talebender December 7, 2021 / 2:34 pm

    When we look into the eyes of a dog who loves us, we know for sure (s)he has a soul.
    Nice piece!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. janetsm December 7, 2021 / 3:44 pm

    Lovely post. I’ve adopted many dogs in my lifetime, and several adopted me. They seemed to all come along at a time when I needed them. I do believe dogs have souls. I can’t imagine heaven without them. You definitely need a dog — and there’s a dog out there, no doubt, that needs you. I’ll look for A Dog’s Life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 5:02 pm

      Hi Janet. Thanks for stopping by. Being a dog lover, you’ll find A Dog’s Life pretty irresistible, I think.

      Like

  23. sniderjerry December 7, 2021 / 4:06 pm

    Hey there Neil, There were two fleas standing at the bottom of a hill, one flea said to the other, “Should we walk up or should we take a dog?” Great essay. Have a good day. Jerry

    Liked by 3 people

  24. workinacresnothours December 7, 2021 / 4:13 pm

    Sounds like a great read. Living in a smallish country town every 3rd car/truck/ute has a Cannine or 2. I often have a giggle at the largest of breeds sitting in the front seat owning their position. such dudes. Love the music clips. All creatures great & small , has some hilariously fun sweet dog stories. Great post hope your week is going great

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 5:05 pm

      Hi, and thanks for your observations. One thing for sure is that you are an animal lover. You know how to relate to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. tanjabrittonwriter December 7, 2021 / 5:08 pm

    It’s not without a reason that dog has been called “(wo)man’s best friend.” 🐶🐕‍🦺🐩🦮

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Alyson December 7, 2021 / 5:56 pm

    Think I’ll have to get a copy of that book. So many people have added dogs to their households since the start of the pandemic – It’s a big lifestyle change but a very rewarding one.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. SandyL December 7, 2021 / 6:03 pm

    I didn’t grow up with pets but my husband did. One day he brought home a kitten and we’ve had pets ever since. Even when we moved to China where we ‘fostered’ a kitten thinking we’d be able to send him back to a forever home. Nope. Apparently, fostering meant adopting. Since then, that cat has traveled the world – Beijing, Singapore. Amsterdam. London, Canada – He’s actually traveled to places we’ve never been, simply because of travel routes in international pet shipments.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. shoreacres December 7, 2021 / 9:03 pm

    I’ve never been a ‘dog person,’ as the saying goes. I feared them as a child, and although I got over that, and can appreciate a good dog, I’m more drawn to cats. I had a gem of a kitty for eighteen years, and it took a long time to get over losing her. All that said, I’m going to get this book, and read it, and then give it to one of my dog-owning friends for Christmas. (I promise not to write in the margins, or break the book’s back, or turn down a corner.)

    I did have two other pets along the way: a fox squirrel (eight years) and a prairie dog (six years). Needless to say, there are stories.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2021 / 10:49 pm

      Hi. A fox squirrel and a prairie dog. Now, that’s different for sure. You know, I never would have guessed that they lived as long as they did. My guess would have been a year or two.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shoreacres December 7, 2021 / 10:52 pm

        In the wild, the squirrels usually make it only two or three years, but mine lived a fairly cosseted life: a large outside cage with limbs and a tree trunk to sleep in, and free run of the house. The prairie dog, a naturally social creature, was more of a challenge. I’d never adopt another one, but Scooter came into our life sort of by accident, and stayed. Here’s one prairie dog tip: they burrow. If you can’t find yours, look in the sofa cushions or the mattress.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Becky Ross Michael December 7, 2021 / 9:16 pm

    I love this book and many others by Peter Mayle. Good to be reminded of this one; I might read it again!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. johnlmalone December 8, 2021 / 12:40 am

    like you, Neil, I am not a cat person; I have tried, still try, but I just can’t warm to them; because I feed them in the morning, they have a soft spot for me 🙂 my favourite dog song by a country mile .is Lobo’s ‘Me and You and a Dog named Boo’ 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  31. rivertoprambles December 8, 2021 / 10:10 am

    Thanks Neil. Your post brings back wonderful memories of canine friends like Stan and Trout, long gone in the physical sense, but not forgotten.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Ann Coleman December 8, 2021 / 9:52 pm

    First of all, fish and turtles absolutely count as pets. We lived in an apartment for four years when I was a child, with no other pets allowed, so we had fish and turtles…and yeah, they didn’t live long! But I also wanted to say that “A Dog’s Life” is one of my favorite books! Peter Mayle was a great writer, and has written many good books, but that one is SO good.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. annieasksyou December 8, 2021 / 11:00 pm

    Forgive me, Neil, but I laughed at the elegant turn of phrase you employed to describe the trajectories of your childhood turtles and fish.
    I am—as you may (or may not) recall—severely dog-deprived. So while I always enjoy your posts, this one really got to me. I agree dogs have souls—either that or they’ve figured out how to manipulate their companion humans beautifully.
    Thanks for your description of Mayles’ book, which I shall definitely read.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. KT Workman December 9, 2021 / 12:45 am

    The best book I’ve read told from a dog’s perspective is “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. I absolutely loved it, and I’m not particularly a dog person. It was also made into a movie. I highly recommend it.

    Liked by 2 people

      • KT Workman December 9, 2021 / 4:03 pm

        I liked it so well I have a physical copy I will keep. For me, that says a lot about how much the story has stayed with me.

        Liked by 1 person

  35. selizabryangmailcom December 9, 2021 / 3:21 am

    It’s always interesting running into people who haven’t seen Star Wars or who never watched TV or, like you, never had a dog or a cat. It must be kind of fun to see people’s reactions to being outside the “box” on various subjects.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 9, 2021 / 7:41 am

      Here’s an example: a friend told me recently that his son-in-law doesn’t know how to drive a car/doesn’t have a drivers license.

      Liked by 2 people

  36. Sylverian December 9, 2021 / 10:10 am

    I love this post
    It’s a shame I am scared of cats and dogs🙈🙊

    Liked by 2 people

  37. selizabryangmailcom December 9, 2021 / 2:22 pm

    Exactly! LOL
    Although, that IS completely normal in New York. I know of at least one person and heard of many who have never learned to drive. Because…they don’t have to! Best transportation system in the U.S.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. viewfromoverthehill December 9, 2021 / 6:50 pm

    Ah, dogs. Yup. When I had kids we had dogs and I loved some of them. As a kid, I too had turtles and fish. The poor turtles used to have their backs painted and I believe that’s what killed them, not us. My mom wouldn’t let me have a dog. I was the youngest of five, and when I became a mother, I understood her wise reasoning and forgave her. Happy New Year, Muriel

    Liked by 2 people

  39. George December 10, 2021 / 1:50 pm

    A Dog’s Life sounds like a fine read. Shame on Peter Mayle for taking the credit.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. D. Wallace Peach December 11, 2021 / 2:34 pm

    I’m without dogs and cats and other pets for the first time in my life, Neil. I miss having critters around to cuddle, but I want to do some traveling, and that isn’t very kind to pets who can’t go along. Books written by and about dogs are often just wonderful. Thanks for introducing me to a new one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • D. Wallace Peach December 11, 2021 / 6:14 pm

        Thanks! It’s actually caused a few adjustments. We like hiking and outdoor stuff which has saved us from big problems.

        Liked by 1 person

  41. andrewcferguson December 12, 2021 / 9:32 am

    I grew up with and like both, although I probably prefer cats. Sounds like a great book though!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. alhenry December 12, 2021 / 4:32 pm

    I think this may just be my all-time favorite post of yours, Neil! (I will overlook the snide remarks about cats, a species I have spent 48 years observing, tending, and cherishing–their most excellent feature perhaps being that they don’t need to be walked in sub-zero/rainy weather.)

    Anyway, I completely grooved on your childhood turtle and fish tales. Couldn’t stop laughing. Totally relatable. I never had the mini-turtles, but after seeing “101 Dalmations”, I had a lengthy succession of gold fish (only “pet” my mother would permit), purchased at the local 5&10, carried home in a plastic, water-filled baggie, to enjoy a short life in a …fishbowl. None lasted more than two weeks. The garden strip beside the garage was filled with popsicle sticks labeled “Perdita,” “Pongo”, “Perdita 2”, “Pongo 2” and so on. Relevant stat Three times as many Pongos died as Perditas. The guy fish just could not go the distance.

    I do like dogs btw. Mom finally relented when my aunt practically forced a very sweet Beagle on us. Molly. I taught her to jump over soup cans.

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 12, 2021 / 8:23 pm

      Thanks for the thumbs-up, Amy. By the way, I wonder where anyone would buy goldfish these days. Does anybody sell them? I sure can’t think of any stores that do.

      Liked by 1 person

  43. ckennedy December 12, 2021 / 8:25 pm

    Stories about animals really do tug at the heart. I enjoy them. We are currently owned by a cat, but I can’t wait to see what my son does someday when he has a place of his own. Will he get a pet?Will he get tons of pets? I’ll just have to wait and see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 12, 2021 / 10:43 pm

      It sounds as though pets will be part of his life when he’s on his own place. He’d probably feel strange without at least one of them around.

      Liked by 1 person

  44. Shelley@QuaintRevival.com December 13, 2021 / 7:03 am

    Aw, you’ve got a glimpse into how wonderful it is to share a heart-warming experience with a dog. I’ve had a few different dogs over the years, and not all dogs connect with their humans. And when they do, it’s true love. My little dog of 16 1/2 years adored me and I adored him. He passed away in August this year. It’s hard to say goodbye and see them decline. I think this book will be a healing book for me to read. Thanks for sharing it and your words to spark interest. And those two songs are delightful to listen to. As always, I enjoyed my visit here to your corner of the blogosphere!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2021 / 9:22 am

      Hi Shelley. Thanks for adding to the conversation. I hadn’t thought about how some dogs connect with their owners more so than other dogs. I guess that dogs are like humans in that respect. That is, each of us truly connect with some people in our circles but not with others in our circles. See ya.

      Liked by 2 people

  45. alison41 December 13, 2021 / 9:55 am

    I’ve read Peter Mayle’s books on France and food and loved them. Thanks for alerting me to the Dog title. PS: I’m a feline fan, but might try the book because it was written by PM

    Liked by 1 person

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