Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Book Review: Dogtripping (25 dogs on a move from California to Maine)

Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure, by David Rosenfelt (St. Martin's Press, 278 pages, 2013, $25.95)

Cookies be Damned, Full Read Ahead!

Oh, my, how I didn't really want to stoop to Dogtripping but, oh, my, how glad i am that I did! It was a quick read. I call these books, "24-hour books" - books I just can't put down. 

The Backstory

David Rosenfelt has led an enviable life: motion picture executive turned author (his wife, a retired fast-food chain executive turned dog rescuer and vegetarian).

Rosenfelt then wrote a golden retriever into one of his mysteries (Play Dead in 2007) and became an overnight bestseller sensation. Having read all these Andy Carpenter books so far (2011), I was a bit disappointed though the covers feature golden retrievers who  play only a very minor role in each crime story, which I found misleading to be the least since I live, work and breathe dogs - goldens in particular. Friends, however love the Andy Carpenter books and some of my friends have even met him! And they are great mysteries.

The Hook

So, with trepidation, I looked into Daytripping, and when I spied the subtitle (25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure), I was hooked.

Smiling Out Loud

Most of Daytripping thoroughly entertains the reader with the life of Rosenfelt and his rescue, the Tara Foundation (named after his first golden), as well as how he and his wife came to relocate from California to Maine in a short period of time plus the trials and tribulations of planning the trip. And, yes, they lived with 25 rescued dogs at the time so they needed help - how I wish I had known! I would have jumped on the chance to help on this trip.

Photographic Tributes

Many memoirs nowadays include photographs and Dogtripping is no exception. I eventually turned to those pages and saw probably a photo and sentence about each of their 25 dogs - and wondered why. Reading the book gave me the explanation: each dog has its own story and its own well-deserved chapter.

Alternating Chapters

Interspersed with these dogstory chapter are the chapters about how to plan (and how not to plan) a cross-country expedition with dogs, vehicles and drivers garnered from the internet (mostly his mysstery fans). One of the volunteer drivers did most of the planning which suited Rosenfelt just fine (planning is not his forte, to say the least), to the point of making a list of everything that could possibly go wrong (risks), their consequences, probability of occurrence, and impact.

Wow! Just writing that is exhausting!

Rosenfelt Knows Dogs

With the wisdom of canines and their best friends comes an excellent chapter, Time To Let Go: ". . . try your best to think only of the dog and its quality of life. In most cases, if  loving dog owner is struggling with the decision, then it's probably time to let the dog go. Because those are the kinds of owners that look for reasons to delay and deny. It's human nature.

Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get it wrong. All you can is to do your best.

The End

Rosenfelt is married to a woman who goes shopping for dogs at the shelters: hence, the number of canines, though the last words in the book lead you to believe Rosenfelt would like to downsize his canine family - maybe to fifteen!

Well Worth the Trip

To top it all off, this may jut be the funniest book you read all year. If it doesn't make you giggle out loud, it will at least make you smile out loud!

"Dogs Bridge Gaps Between People"

Don't we all know it! Get this book! Read it and keep it. Enjoy a dogtrip! Vicariously, of course.


Read more about it: New Tricks

Other golden Rosenfelt titles:

Dog Tags was more dog-centric (2011)

Leader of the Pack was much less dog-centered (2012)

Play Dead (sorry, I just don't remember this one)(2007)

Monday, September 28, 2020

Book Review: New Tricks (Golden Retriever? murder mystery, New Jersey)

New Tricks, by David Rosenfelt (Grand Central Publishing, 384 pp, 2010, $8.00 at BooksAMillion)

A Golden Cover for Dog People
New Tricks has a glorious Golden Retriever (Tara) on the cover, along with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, gazing up at Tara in absolute reverence.

The Author
A multi-millionaire from the film industry, author Rosenfelt has now turned to writing murder mysteries with a Golden in them. He and his wife currently live with 37 dogs and have established a dog rescue organization, The Tara Foundation, which has successfully placed more than 4000 dogs. All this wonderful data appears, along with a few words about the book’s plot, wherever we looked.

Who wouldn’t want to read this inspired book?
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! Should I write the publisher for a review copy, should I go right out and buy it, should I see if my library has the book? (It did, so I saved both time and money. Well, not exactly time, as it turned out.)

But, . . .
Unfortunately, misled by the incredible unforgettable cover, I naturally thought a Golden would be a major character. Since my expectations were unabashedly dashed, I’m not sure I can comment rationally on the quality of the mystery. It was probably good but I’m not sure I want to read another ‘golden’ mystery by Rosenfelt that turns out not to be so golden, just to be certain if it is good or not.

I wanted the Golden or Berner mentioned more often and to play more than just a minor accessory role. Days of text would go by without mention of either dog, it seems.

In addition, the Berner, conformation material, was several months old at the beginning of the book, and even older at the end, and hadn’t yet started his ‘training’ to become a dog show dog (whatever that training was).

Covers to Drool Over, or Hug Vicariously
However, I will continue to drool over Rosenfelt covers and will probably check out often just to look at them. Who knows, perhaps I will break down and read another Rosenfelt ‘golden’ mystery. If I do, I’ll let you know how I like it. Or don’t.

Update: 2016. Dogtripping and Lessons from Tara are excellent, excellent books!

Dogtripping tells the cross-country move from California to Maine of the author and his entourage, including rescue dogs – a fun read.

Books in the series (in order): Open and Shut, First Degree, Bury the Lead, Sudden Death, Dead Center, Play Dead (sorry, but I just don't remember this book)
Sixth of 23

New Tricks, Dog Tags (more dog-centric than New Tricks),

Book 8

One Dog Night, Leader of the Pack (much less dog-centered),

Book 10

Unleashed, Hounded, Who Let the Dog Out, Outfoxed, The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
, . . . .

Caveat: This review was written in 2011, then promptly lost somewhere in the computer, only to be found by a glorious mistake.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Book Review: Halo, Disaster Response Dog (Dutch Shepherd pup, FEMA, dog training)

Superpower Dogs (True Stories of Real Heroes): Halo: Disaster Response Dog, text by Stephanie Peters (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019, 144 pages, $7.99PB, grades 3-7, ages 8-12)
Dogs with superpowers. Real dogs with superpowers. 

How cool is that? 

The IMAX film “Superpower Dogs” comes to the pages of your child’s soon-to-be favorite books. 

One Pup is Chosen 

Three Michigan pups audition to be trained as a disaster response dog but only one is chosen – Halo, a Dutch Shepherd. Captain Cat, Halo’s new person, lives in Florida, as far from the winter snows of Michigan that one can be, so off they go for two years of daily training which, to Halo, is all fun and games, but a bit challenging. 

Other Superpower Dogs 

Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Floods. 

Haiti. Oklahoma City. New York. The Pentagon. 

Published the same day as Halo’s story is Superpower Dogs, the stories of five special dogs, one of whom is Halo and one, a smaller dog, Border Collie Henry, who grows up to be an avalanche rescue dog in Whistler, BC.
The Book 

Halo’s story, told in 10 chapters leads up to her final test to become an Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) dog with FEMA as part of a team with her person, Cat. Will they pass? 

Between each chapter is a mini-chapter of real stories of dogs who rescue people (to show the variety of situations they can be used for). Starting on page 37, the reader will find nine pages of nine dog breeds – from the Belgian Malinois to the Siberian Husky, along with their ideal jobs and superpowers. 

Stephanie Peters, who wrote the text, includes Halo’s timeline from birth through training milestones to her final certification test on April 30, 2018. Young readers also learn how super a dog’s sense of smell and hearing are, plus read a page of translating dog body language into English, helpful for your own dog. 

But, maybe best of all are the eight pages of color photos at the end – photos of Cat and Halo both at work and at play. And remember, it’s all play, to the dog! And challenging. 
Caveat: This book was purchased for review. 
Also read about Henry, an avalanche response dog plus the picture book, Superpower Dogs, a picture book with Halo and other superpower dogs.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Book Review: Stick Dog Tries to Take the Donuts (apples, donuts, thinking, dogs)

Stick Dog Tries to Take the Donuts (Book 5 of 11), by Tom Watson (Harper, 2016, 208+ pages, $12.99HB, grades 3-7) 

The. Longest. ShortStory. Ever.


Written on lined paper like the tablets elementary school students use (or used, in the olden days, with a fat pencil), Stick Dog is unique. The best thing, in the eyes of parents and teachers, is the size of the words: some are long (and advanced) so your third grade reader will expand his vocabulary exponentially and include you in the reading often (to ask what a certain word means, after you have successfully figured out your child’s pronunciation attempts!)*


“. . . provide Stick Dog a little more time to figure out what his instincts were trying to tell him. He considered* this choice when something happened. And then something else happened.” (p. 123)


Five dog friends surviving on their own, their pictures as if drawn by a little kid. A Dalmatian named Stripes, a Karen doxey, a Mutt, Poo-Poo the Poodle, and Stick Dog, of course, their leader with brains. And the dogs are getting hungry and hungrier.


“There are nine more donuts in here,” Stick Dog said [to his four canine friends}. “That works out perfectly You all get two each.” (p. 145)


On their hunt for food like apples, they discover donuts! And Karen finds she loves, loves, loves coffee and what it does to her. Now, how to get more donuts and coffee. . . .


If you liked Hank Zipzer, you’ll like the Stick Dog books: Mutt stores things in his fur, Karen discovers she likes coffee, the reader will read about friendship and may, must may guess at the next exciting thing to happen to our group of canines!


“And that’s when Stick Dog got his idea. Do you know what it was? Sorry. I can’t tell you everything. I’ll just have to show you in the story.” (p. 124)



Caveat: This book was purchased for review.


*verification, fierce, manipulated, etc.