Although first published in October, 2010 (Lyons; $22.95), Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey is now available in paperback (Lyons; $16.95) and worth the price of a quick trip in the “way-back” machine. The Knoxville Dog Health Examiner usually is a platform for local Dog Health info and new book reviews, but this title is a worthy deviation from the norm…and an excellent way to return to form.
Given East Tennessee’s unseasonably mild winter and equally warm spring, most area dog lovers are well into regular exercise routines in the great outdoors. John Zeaman’s book delves into this life, which he finds on his daily walks through both his neighborhood and the nearby urban wilderness of the New Jersey Meadowlands. It’s a satisfying mixture of dog writing, Sand County Almanac-style observations of an ever-resilient suburban ecosystem and introspective meditations on the nature of humanity and its impact on the surrounding world.
When Pete – and later Luke – his sometimes incorrigible but always affable standard poodles, are added to this tableau, the reader is able to simultaneously immerse in Zeaman’s thoughts and accompany the dogs on several spirited adventures. A few other colorful human personalities enrich the story, but the focus remains squarely on the complex relationships found among the man, the dogs and their respective domains.
Though not without the sorrows that so often accompany stories of dogs and people, Dog Walks Man weaves its relationships into the larger timeline of human life spans and the timeless natural world. One is left both wanting to know more about the author’s next adventure and pining for the creation of one’s own narrative in our verdant and wild Appalachian back yard.