Generally speaking dog humor books never make me laugh. There’s usually a lot of jokes about dogs eating trash and looking guilty and contrary to what the titles may imply, they actually slay my soul. I try to avoid them.
So, when I got asked to review a copy of the book Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know, I wanted to say no, but wound up saying yes for two reasons: there is a quote from Steve Martin on the front and I read an excerpt entitled, “I Can Poop The Second I Start My Walk.”
Steve Martin is one the funniest people of all time. Even if he never actually read this book, just the idea that he may have looked at the cover or tripped over the book, is enough for me. And once I read that “I Can Poop” line, I knew the writers must know something about dogs.
Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know is a collection of stories from eleven fictional dogs who reveal what’s really going on in the minds of dogs. Among others, there’s Orson the Bulldog who has an eating disorder, Tinkerbell the passive aggressive Chihuahua, and my two favorites: Sarge the working GSD who gets fired a lot and Rufus T. the Bloodhound that dreams of making it on Broadway. It’s a fun crew.
What I enjoyed about this book is that it was really obvious that the writers not only love dogs, but understand dogs and what they’re up against having to live with humans. Without going straight for the teachable moment, the authors wove all kinds of helpful tips, advice, and dog logic into their stories.
The dogs, in telling some really funny stories, subtly teach readers that dogs see the world differently than we do and that they’re totally justified when they do something “bad”, because it makes total sense. You just have to look at it from the dog’s perspective.
If a couch is made of leather, why would a dog think it’s any different from a rawhide chew toy? Axelrod the Lab tries to explain why so many dogs make this mistake in “Why I Ate the Sofa” and other stories about misunderstandings.
If you have a new dog owner in your life – one that’s trying to figure out how to speak dog – this would be a good gift to give them (along with some Nature’s Miracle). They’ll get the answers to all our burning questions: why do dogs eat grass? jump on us? dig holes? steal our weed?
The book also serves as a reminder to humans that we should never judge a dog by his looks, as in the case of Rufus T. the Bloodhound, a dog with a secret fantasy of making it on Broadway. His people assume he wants nothing more than to go hunting, but Rufus reveals that when he’s dreaming, those jerky movements and whimpers aren’t from squirrel chasing, he’s dreaming of dancing in the musical Annie. My kind of Bloodhound.
And there are a few story lines that are genuinely touching for any dog lover, like Sophie the Cocker Spaniel, who is at the end of her life and wondering, in stories like “I’m Getting Too Far Ahead” how it came to be that she’s aging faster than the humans in her life. Sophie’s entry is the final chapter and there was a profound little nugget that ended the book.
So here’s what Steve Martin left out when he wrote his blurb “I laughed, my dog howled” for the book cover: the authors behind the stories love dogs and want them to succeed in our crazy world.
Cheers to humor being one of the best teachers.
And yes, if you’re wondering, there is a DINOS in the book. Moonbeam the Mutt writes, “You’re Not in My Pack” and ‘Why I Hate Dogs”, for all the dogs out there that need a little space.