I discovered Jon Katz through his Suburban Detective series, books I adored. The first was titled Death by Station Wagon. What soccer mom could resist? Evidently, his mysteries didn’t sell well enough so the series was discontinued, much to my disappointment, since each one was better than the last.
Jon Katz then turned to writing about dogs and the rest is history. His first doggy story, A Dog Year, about a psychotic Border Collie he rescued, made me laugh and cry at the same time. It was great stuff and hit the bestseller lists.
So I was delighted to see Soul of a Dog in my local library and snatched it up immediately. Mr. Katz has left his suburban home and moved to Bedlam Farm in upstate New York. This book talks about all of the animals on the farm although dogs are certainly central. There’s Elvis the enormous Snickers-loving steer, Henrietta the unusual hen, Mother the barn cat, along with various sheep, donkeys, and goats. Nearest and dearest to his heart are Rose and Izzy, the Border Collies, and Lenore, the Labrador. The entertaining stories about these critters are framed by Katz’s own exploration of the on-going debate as to whether animals have souls.
As an animal lover myself, I gobbled up Katz’s descriptions of his creature companions, but I also enjoyed the depth his occasional philosophical tangents gave the book. He is remarkably clear-eyed about the dangers of anthropomorphizing our pets, yet he clearly cares deeply about all of his animals.
This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves animals. I’ve already put it on my gift-giving list.