Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Head, a Tail, and a Spine

Books and dogs have so much in common. To start, just consider their physical form: A dog has a head, a tail, and a spine, and so does a book. That a book needs routine care may not be as obvious.

Dogs, of course, usually participate in their own care; they can all, to some extent, groom themselves. But books can't groom themselves; they need us: our intervention, our good intentions turned into actions. It was from a lifetime of caring for dogs that I learned how to take care of books. Sounds like just another chore, doesn't it? I think of it as a mission. You give the dog you love the best possible care, don't you? Learn to give the books you love a little attention, too, and they'll be better companions, whether they merely grace your shelves or curl up with you for a good read.

I know I'm not alone in equating books and dogs with happiness.

I've always been most content as a reader with a dog nestled under my arm; dogs, I believe, enhance my comprehension, and when a dog like my dear Phoebe enjoys being read to, the experiences is even more pleasant. As a writer, I've always done my best work with a dog at my feet. When I'm selling books, I'm at my most competent with a dog at my side. And when I'm cleaning and repairing a book that's had a bad accident, or suffers from age-related infirmities or neglect, it's the patience dogs have taught me that promotes a steady hand and positive results.

I think there's inspiration in books and dogs, considered as a unity, that deserves more credit. I know I rely on it daily.

In future posts (at least once a week), I'll tell you why I rely on that inspiration, with examples and ideas and dreams of a better world for books as well as dogs; practical advice on what you can do for books in your home, business, and community; and stories of the dogs with whom I've shared the realm of books. I'll report on my upcoming book (a sequel to The Care and Feeding of Books Old and New: A Simple Repair Manual for Book Lovers) and other publications. And I'll share some of Phoebe's adventures, with highlights from a bookshop staff dog's daily journal.

Next time: All About Buzet

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