Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book Review: Ask Anna (dog, advice column)

Ask Anna: Advice for the Furry and Forlorn, by Dean Koontz* and his dog Anna (Center Street/Hatchette Book Group, 2014, $20, 96 pages)

Golden Advice

Surely you have heard of the very prolific Dean Koontz*, seemingly inexhaustible author of numerous (130 or more) books, many of them bestsellers, and his former best friend (dog) and fellow bestselling author Trixie Koontz**, who wrote three books herself.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Anna Koontz, also a Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) wonderdog drop-out (like Trixie) and now, advice columnist for canines with her first book, Ask Anna. And it is amazing how Anna resembles her favorite human, Dean Koontz in photos.

Although Anna is a golden retriever who wears pink ribbons on her ears, she inherited the Dear Abby gene and advises all breeds of dogs, even All-American dogs (America’s favorite kind, the mixed breed or dog of unknown origin [DUO]). Chances are that you will first thumb through to find the letters written by dogs like yours (or at least dog-ear those pages).

What can be better than pages and pages of dog photos? All proceeds***will be donated to Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that trains service dogs for people with disabilities.

Although it is hard to carry brilliant questions and answers throughout an entire 96-page book, Koontz does a remarkable job, starting with his inadvertent discovery of Anna’s talent. She was using a computer, hidden away in the family exercise room and remained undiscovered for quite some time until one day Koontz happened to glance in as he passed by and saw Anna helping a Boston Terrier from - Boston!

Dear Anna

My favorite letter is from a height-challenged Dachshund named Shrimp who feels short and asks about leg extensions, exercises, vitamins or yoga. Anna replies that Shrimp is not short when height is measured from nose to tail and dogs don’t have to worry about their looks because they are all humungously cute!

From ‘Obsessed in Omaha’ to ‘Not Cute Enough in Cleveland’ to ‘Confused Puppy’ to Anna’s buddy, Buddy, these letters will entertain and even astound you with the cleverness of this canine counselor.

Bonus: A rather-contrived ‘Brief (2-page) History of Canine Advice’ and the rather strange 3-page ‘Take my Paw in Times of Trouble (A Dog Day in Koontzland)’

*Midnight; Darkest Evening of the Year; A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog; Trixie and Jinx; I, Trixie, Who is Dog (reviewed here); . . . .

**Life is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living; Bliss to You: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life; and Christmas is Good: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Holiday

***The only other book I know of to donate all its proceeds is Katenna Jones’ Fetching the Perfect Dog Trainer (reviewed here)

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