By Stanley Coren. Free Press. $24.
Most of us own several dogs during our lifetime. Occasionally, one comes along that we tend to regard as our soul mate. In Coren’s case, it was Flint, a dynamic Cairn terrier, which was a Cold War adversary to his wife Joan, yet a companion extraordinaire for this University of British Columbia professor emeritus of psychology.
The author of eight other dog books, Coren’s sharp insight into the species and man’s relationship to it is magnified in this first-person story of true grit that ranges from perceptive narrative to tough realism. In the process, Coren serves up plenty of doggy escapades, accented with spot-on behavioral tips and why they work.
Flint is the axis of Coren’s lifestyle, from marriage and the classroom to obedience and conformation rings. Through the journey, Coren delivers humor, angst, perception and correction. Plus, he showcases this special little dog’s heroism from fending off a raccoon’s potential attack on a four-legged housemate to nurturing an elderly bed-ridden patient following a former student’s plea for help.
Here are several select Corenisms:
“To successfully train an animal (or a person) you must first figure out what is going on in his mind.”
“A dog lives in an ocean of human sounds and, with only the language ability of a human 2-year-old, he has to decide which words are directed at him and which are not.”
“My father once said that when you own a dog and observe his life, you learn that it is possible to grow old with grace and dignity.”
“Dogs are not suns that radiate their light over vast distances, but rather candles that illuminate the small spaces in which we live – the spaces in which we feel.”
“Over the course of my life I have come to believe that God has created many types of angels – and some of them bark.”
Coren knows and understands dogs like few others in North America. His ability to reflect that is beautifully characterized in this refreshing, innovative source of inspiration.