Monday, December 7, 2009

A Bookshop Dog's Journal: Part V

Phoebe has a suggestion for everyone who wonders what to give the dogs they love for the holidays: the simple gift of stories.

If you already read to your dog, you're on Phoebe's list of best humans ever. If you've never read to your dog, why not try it one day soon? Add it to that list of New Year's resolutions and trust your dog to keep the new bond it creates growing every time you two great friends, reader and listener, settle down for another chapter in the stories of your lives.

You've got everything you need. Your favorite cuddle venue is the ideal place to start. You'll find a few minutes to spare for a trial run, and who doesn't benefit from more private time with a pal? Worried that you'll feel silly? You can count on a dog's discretion; if you feel foolish your partner will make the foolishness just plain fun.

You can, of course, impart stories without literal reading. You already talk to your dog. So tell your dog a story, some anecdote from your youth or the mystery of this morning's missing car keys. Every dog's life can speak volumes, too, if you'll lend it your voice. Phoebe loves to hear me recount how she found Theodore, her toy lizard. And who doesn't enjoy pure fancy? Phoebe and the Carl Schurz Squirrels is an epic to which we add a fantastical chapter almost every day.

But what Phoebe prefers is formal reading. She seems to consider my books comparable to her tennis balls. We're both collectors, and we share what we cherish.

What to read? It doesn't have to be War and Peace and Puppies. Begin with the TV listings, the latest sports scores, or the kids' report cards. Aim for some of the classics of canine literature. But a page or two of that novel or memoir on your bedside table, or a holiday favorite, can get you going. One of the beauties of reading to your dog is that you can pick up any story anywhere, whenever it's convenient, and your audience will love you for it.

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