…when a publishing acquaintance of mine, June Cotner, asked me if I’d like to review a copy of her book, Dog Blessings, I hesitated.
Well, although I’ve written my fair share of teen angst poetry and a few fun prose pieces, I don’t normally read other people’s poetry. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with poetry, and I’m sure most poetry takes a lot more thought and work than anything I’ve ever written – but it’s just not my thing. When I look to curl up with a book, I choose fast paced suspense novels like those written by Dean Koontz and John Grisham. I’ve also read my fill of humorous and heart wrenching dog memoirs, and piles of behavioral books (courtesy of Toby).
I usually pass it by…
Yet this particular book was about dogs, and so I agreed to take a look.
June was kind enough to send me a free copy of her book for my review, and it arrived right before my vacation. In the midst of packing chaos I set the book aside – and there it sat. When I returned from my trip, I was smack in the middle of reading Bonding With Your Dog by Victoria Schade, (thanks again to a certain yellow lab), and so the days passed and Dog Blessings lay dormant on my shelf.
Not quite forgotten, but not getting the attention it deserved.
And a few weeks later when I opened my inbox and saw the name “June Cotner” on the “From” line of one of my emails, I smacked myself on the head for procrastinating for so long. Thankfully, her email was only to comment on one of my posts, not to berate me for not reviewing her book yet, but it did the trick all the same. I headed to the bookshelf and carried it back to the sofa – and when I turned it over in my hands, the first thing I noticed was the pair of cuddling Vizslas on the cover.
My interest piqued, into the pages I dove…
The book is split into eight sections; A Dog’s World, Puppies, Our Bond, Devotion, Aging Gracefully, Partings, Reflections, and Prayers, Blessings, and Inspiration – and each of the sections contains prose that compliments the heading.
I mentioned I don’t normally read poetry, right? Somehow I passed high school English while remaining blissfully ignorant about such technical things as stanzas, verse, meter, and pacing….so I’m not going to attempt to review the quality of the poems or the skills of the poets, as I have nothing with which to compare.
But I can say that many of the writers painted dead-on depictions of our four legged friends.
One of my favorites, “The Science of Faith” by Patti Tana, describes a dog’s yearning for something that has gone missing from her life with such clarity I could imagine the dog standing before me, tail lowered in disappointment. Lisa Timpf’s “To Let You Go Gently” struck a cord, as it reminded me so much of Leah as she herself starts to show signs of age. And “Rescue Dog” by Sonya R. Liehr brings up the age old question of “Who rescued who?”
According to June Cotner, she compiled this book because she “wanted to honor and celebrate the profound ways in which our dog companions bless our lives.” And I think she did a great job of reaching her goal. I’m glad to have had the chance to read it, and to expand my reading horizons to include works that I would not have discovered on my own. This would be a good book to give as a gift to a dog lover, or to peruse through over your morning cup of coffee. In June’s notes, she also recommends using the prayers and reflections in the last chapter in any “Blessings of the Animals” services, and you can also use the prayers from the “Partings” chapter for memorial services for your dog.