Harlow & Sage (and Indiana): A True Story about Best Friends, created by Brittni Vega (Putnam, 2015, 137 pages, $22.95)
Start in the Middle?
Who on earth would start a story in the middle?
Harlow, for one, because first there was Sage (for eight years), then there was Sage-and-Harlow (for five years), then there was Harlow (just for a few days), and now we have Harlow-and-Indiana (Indi).
So, this book, Harlow & Sage, is the middle, as Harlow remembers Sage and relates their adventures to puppy Indi who is growing (but growing only horizontally, not vertically). Hopefully, the beginning and the end books will follow, too.
Sage is a Dachshund while Harlow is a tall Dachshund-wanna-be who only looks like a Weimeraner. Just as some big dogs don’t realize they are big, some little dogs think they are big – like little Sage.
Photos but More!
Weims (Weimeraners, sometimes called Wind-around-ers or other things) are those dogs with the eternally surprised eyes. The front cover actually shows a surprised Weim, Harlow, with a Mini-Doxey, Indi, riding on her back, and the shadow-dog on page 53 is amazingly clever and unforgettable. Then turn to page 112 for a bug and dog experience, not to be soon forgotten.
What is more endearing than a sleeping dog? Two dogs sleeping together, one on top of the other (a living pillow) or snuggled comfortably together. And Harlow has a plethora of sleeping dog pictures.
There seem to be an abundant number of little dog-books with a (cute) dog photo on one page, and, on the facing page, a one-sentence (cute) saying. These are books you can quickly read in the bookstore or library but don’t necessarily want to take home unless your dog’s photograph is a full-page photo. There are so many different dogs in these little books, many of them dressed up, that they all simply can’t be wonderful.
Harlow is like that but not like that. It is quite a bit larger, shows only two dog breeds (Weim and Doxey) and has no one-sentence (cute) sayings: instead, Harlow is well-written yet cute and down-to-earth - simply a lovely keepsake.
First there was Sage. Then the humans brought home a little puppy Weim, Harlow, and the two became fast friends, BFFs (best friends forever). When Sage ages and slows down and finally crosses over the Rainbow Bridge, Harlow is left alone. For about a week.
Enter a tiny little ball of energy named Indiana who loves Harlow to death and runs circles around her, finally winning her over.
Harlow narrates the story and tells of Meryl Streep-loving canines: to puppy Indi, Harlow tells tales of the departed Sage, how she taught Harlow all about life, just as Harlow is now teaching Indi everything she needs to know. About grandparents, who live to spoil. About hugs (yes, dogs do it too) and snuggles. About sleeping lessons. About scary thunderstorms.
Big and little photos, big and little stories, a nice font (yes, some readers notice fonts) and gentle, compassionate words and actions from Harlow as she realizes her best friend, Sage, is slowing down. . . . “At thirteen years old, Sage’s once salt-and-pepper coat had become mostly salty.”
“There really is nothing like the great outdoors. There are unlimited things to chew on.” And dogs riding in backpacks on dogs.
The End Continues On
Harlow & Sage is a book you can pick up when you have just a minute, then lay back down on the coffee table for another day, with a smile on your face.
Now I eagerly await a book like Harlow about labs and goldens. . . . and, remember, sticks are outside furniture but pine trees are not, at least during the Meryl Christmas season!