All My Dogs: A Life

Overview

It may be true that a dog is a man's best friend, but if you are a serious dog owner, you are probably a serial dog owner, having embraced not one but a succession of canine companions, each of them memorable in their own particular way, and each marking a particular epoch in your own life. We remember which dogs our children teased (and which generally suffered the abuse nobly), the ones that chewed the furniture and peed on the rugs, the ones that anticipated our every move and mood and displayed affection and ...

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Overview

It may be true that a dog is a man's best friend, but if you are a serious dog owner, you are probably a serial dog owner, having embraced not one but a succession of canine companions, each of them memorable in their own particular way, and each marking a particular epoch in your own life. We remember which dogs our children teased (and which generally suffered the abuse nobly), the ones that chewed the furniture and peed on the rugs, the ones that anticipated our every move and mood and displayed affection and loyalty in the face of neglect and indifference, the ones that died too early and the ones that lingered into old age. All of them with their own distinctive foibles and personalities, none of them with any sense of their own mortality.

Indeed, our own lives can be chronicled by the lives of the dogs we have owned, each death marking an ending, to be followed shortly by a new beginning. In this intimate, moving, and revealing memoir, Bill Henderson, the beloved founder of the Pushcart Press, divides up the stages of his life into canine epochs. There was (and there always is) the first dog. . . , the worst dog, the ones that died untimely deaths, the one who saved a marriage. "Packaging" is never openly discussed in the halls of this publishing house, but here we have tried to make as perfect a package as possible. The book contains lovely line drawings by Leslie Moore, is designed and printed in an intimate format, and is even set in Minion, which means "faithful companion." This is a book to love even if you don't love dogs.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With dry humor and enviable honesty, this gem by Pushcart Press founder Henderson (His Son) tells his life story through 13 dogs—of different sizes, shapes, breeds, and mixes—that he and his family have owned. His first dog, Trixie (a German Spitz mix) shaped his formative years in suburban Philadelphia. After his friend's father kicked out the mutt Duke, a 10-year-old Henderson took him in. Labrador retriever Sophie saved Henderson's relationship with his future wife and witnessed the couple's daughter, Holly, grow up. Today, Franny and Sedgwick keep Henderson company. Henderson candidly discusses the deaths of his dogs, including the unexpectedly intimate depiction of the time he discovered Ellen and Rocky (a beloved Chesapeake Bay retriever and mutt) floating in a residential swimming pool in his upstate New York neighborhood. While making a solid, yet subtle, argument for why dogs remain man's best friend, Henderson also writes of his Christian upbringing and his "spiritual sojourn." The book is greatly enhanced by famed artist Leslie Moore's line drawings, and the typeface is Minion, which just happens to mean "faithful companion." (Oct.)
Library Journal
In this memoir, Henderson (His Son: A Memoir) reflects on his life through his beloved past and present dogs. Humorous childhood stories include hikes and explorations with his dog Trixie and, later, Duke. Young adulthood is remembered as an empty period—college, a brief marriage, the death of his mother, and no dogs. Life became better when he started Pushcart Press, met the woman who would become his new wife, moved out of the city with her, and adopted dogs Ellen and Rocky. Overlapping with Her Father: A Memoir, he recounts adopting their daughter Sophie and having another, Holly, both of whom brought incredible joy to his life. Next in the pet lineage were Opie (his wife's beagle), Max, and Lulu, a "special" dog whose unconditional love helped him through his struggle with cancer. VERDICT With lovely illustrations of Henderson's dogs by Leslie Moore, this sweet tribute reinforces in the same spirit as Mark Doty's Dog Years how dogs can be the heart of a family.—Eva Lautemann, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston
Yvonne Zipp
All My Dogs handily wins Best in Show…Accompanied by lovely drawings by Leslie Moore, memoirs like this don't happen along very often.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567924350
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/15/2011
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,154,214
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Henderson is founder of Pushcart Press and editor and publisher of the annual Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, now in its thirty-fifth year. He is the author of the memoirs His Son (Norton, 1981), Her Father (Faber and Faber, 1995), Tower (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), and Simple Gifts (Free Press, 2006). He received the 2006 Poets & Writers/Barnes & Noble "Writers for Writers" citation and the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle.

Leslie Moore draws portraits of dogs for many owners (and breeds). She was a favorite artist of the late Senator Edward Kennedy and illustrated his last Christmas card.

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