I am deep into a new book by my friend from Seattle, Steve Duno. Last Dog on the Hill is the story of his dog Lou, a Shepherd-Rottweiler mix that he used to bring to work with him when we were both trainers at the Academy of Canine Behavior in Bothell, WA. We were both pretty green in those days, but my, how far we’ve come. I like to think Jack and Colleen McDaniel, the owners, would be proud of their alums. Many of us have gone on to lifelong careers in dogs.
Steve traveled down to Warwick’s Bookstore in La Jolla last week for a book-signing event, one of many stops on his book tour for the just-released book. We had dinner beforehand and caught up on each other’s lives and shared some fond memories of Lou and Tank, my Lab from way back then, and our days at the Academy.
Last Dog on the Hill is not Marley and Me, nor is it Lassie Come Home. Lou was a real dog, a scruffy mutt with a shady past who got lucky and landed in the right home. Some dog stories are really memoirs of the author’s life, and the dog is the vehicle to tell the story of a family (Marley and Me), or a life-changing event (Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain). In contrast, Duno’s book is more about Lou and his adventures.
I asked Steve how he could remember all those details. He said that although he’s always been a writer, he didn’t really keep a journal of Lou’s exploits. They are still fresh in his mind, because Lou was such a memorable part of his life for 16 years. I can relate to that. Every writer, even one who has never written about dogs, finds himself compelled to eulogize his beloved canine. Steve started writing about six months after Lou’s death.
Steve has written 18 books, but he got that misty far-away look in his eyes when we talked about this one. This is “THE BOOK,” that once-in-a-lifetime story that has to get out; the book I may someday write about Tank, the one you may someday write about your once-in-a-lifetime dog. Kudos to Steve for getting it down on paper, and for crafting such a compelling story.
© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.