I’m not sure which came first: the books about dogs or the love of dogs.
I remember several books from when I was very young. There was a children’s version of Lad: A Dog, by Albert Payson Terhune, and another of Lassie Come Home, by Eric Knight. Both were thin hardcover books, beautifully illustrated. Both books were about sable collies; here I am with two sable Shelties.
There was another book, a paperback dog encyclopedia with a Bernese Mountain Dog on the cover, published by Simon and Schuster. It had color drawings of different dog breeds. I remember being taken by the drawings of Belgian sheepdogs; my dog Kestry, whom I lost to old age in February of 2013, was a Belgian sheepdog.
Most of my dogs have been herding dogs. I love the look of them, love the long-haired coats, even though they’re a pain to deal with. Herding dogs are quirky. They’re quick to react, often independent, very sensitive, and sometimes too smart for their own good. They’re energetic, observant, and can have a wicked sense of humor. They pull me out of my tendency toward laziness and get me out in the world.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the dogs in my life often resemble the dogs in those books. I don’t know if I was given those books because I was crazy about dogs, or if the books made me crazy about dogs. I don’t know if I have herding dogs now because of those books, or because that’s just the way it all worked out. The first dog in my life as an adult was Wolf, a collie-malamute mix. My second dog, Panda, was a lab-whippet – not a drop of herding dog in her. Since those two, there have been a Belgian, two Aussies, two Shelties, and a border collie.
I seem to have a type.
Now that I live with dogs, I don’t read so much about them. I have several of Terhune’s books, as well as a copy of Lassie Come Home somewhere. I have shelves of dog books, many of which I mean to read, but haven’t yet. If the dog books sparked the love of dogs, the dogs have certainly surpassed the books.