In the final sprint before launching the Pet Travel Book Club next Thursday (November 10), I started thinking about pet travel writing as a genre. Naturally, it’s as varied as any other type of travel writing — or writing, period — and is designed to serve different purposes. But whether I’m looking for advice about where to stay with Frankie or for general ruminations about the interactions of pet, person, and environment, I want a distinctive point of view and a liveliness of the mind, writing that tells you there’s an observing, thinking person behind it. And that’s what I found in these blogs, two of which give previews of books I plan to discuss in the future.
I love Mary-Alice Pomputius’s detailed reviews of carriers, plane seats and pet relief areas for their extreme usefulness. But Mary-Alice often combines the practical with the lyrical, extolling the virtues of places she visits on their own merits as well as from the perspective of Chloe, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I admit to choosing this post, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, for sentimental reasons. As I commented on her blog:
I grew up 5 minutes from Prospect Park… The Grand Army Plaza library was my childhood library and to walk there I passed the zoo (eh) and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which are also lovely… Maybe you can go home — or at least back to the old neighborhood — again.
The Four-Legged Walden
John Zeaman, the author of Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey, doesn’t blog very often. I suspect his publisher and his friends told him that blogging was a good way to publicize his book, but he didn’t have the time or inclination to continue with it. Nevertheless, his Dogging in Great Britain gives you the flavor of the book, quirky, inquisitive, philosophical — and often very funny.
Take Paws/Go Pet Friendly’s blog
I have watched this blog blossom, as Amy Burkert found an engaging voice and Rod and Ty and Buster all became fully-fleshed characters in the story of their lives on the road. Take the opening line of this post about Portland, Oregon:
Arriving in a new city often triggers a bit of shyness. Like our canine companions, we’ve learned to introduce ourselves by sniffing around the edges before diving in.
Full disclosure: I am feeling very kindly disposed towards this blog because I entered a contest on it and won a Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is wonderful beyond belief. But if I hadn’t enjoyed the blog (and the bloggers) I wouldn’t be a regular reader and wouldn’t have entered the contest.
Travels with Ace
I interviewed John Woestendiek, who set out to replicate John Steinbeck’s route in Travels with Charley — more or less — for Animal Cafe. One of the things that made me laugh was his contention that Ace, a very large, very engaging mixed-breed pup,was wont to put his paws up on Motel 6 check-in counters because he was used to bellying up to the local bar that John had frequented with him. John has had to change watering holes because he moved to another city; his report on Ace’s new bar is a classic.
The Adventures of Tom and Atticus
A black-and-white miniature schnauzer, looking inquisitive, wearing boots… If you are a dog lover, you only have to look at the cover picture of Tom Ryan’s Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship to want to know more. When Ryan, an out-of-shape newspaper publisher in Massachusetts, sets out one winter to climb all of the White Mountains with the shaggy Atticus Finch, he started blogging about it. Not all the posts on his blog are legible — there’s this blue type on black background problem– but as this post, The Pleasure of His Company, makes clear, you’ll enjoy the journey that Tom and Atticus take you on.
So, next week, I’ll be talking about Travels with Charley in Search of America: (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck. I’ll put on my literary critic’s hat for A Traveler’s Library, where I am the pet travel contributor, my doggy perspective for this blog. I hope you’ll join me in both virtual places. Just FYI: The book is available on Kindle, it’s short, and it’s delightful. And, in case you were wondering, Charley is a French poodle.
One more thing: The links to Amazon of the book titles here are all affiliate links, which means I get a few cents from Amazon if you buy them on the pages linked to. No pressure, though I am one of the 99 percent.
14 thoughts on “Pet Travel Writing: Some Prime Examples”
I am always excited for recommendations about what to read next (especially valuable for a procrastinating student). I’ve actually read John Zeaman’s book and am so amused that his blog is called The Four-Legged Walden- very appropriate! I read a lot of pet writing in other genres- pet mysteries, pet biographies, etc. but haven’t done much pet travel reading and I am surprised at how much is out there that fits in this category.
Glad to help with any procrastination! And, yes, I was surprised to discover how many pet travel books there were, too — who knew?
You’ve inspired me. My tattered copy of Travels with Charlie has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. I read it in high school, but had forgotten most of it. I thought I would read it to Sadie when she was recovering from pneumonia at 10 months of age. But, alas the animal hospital would not let me sit with her in her kennel while she was receiving IV fluids and antibiotics around the clock for 4 days. They were protecting her from germs I might have brought in. I was totally with that. But, now we have second chance.
I love the idea of you reading the book to Sadie! What fun to be able to imagine picture your own poodle in the same situations that Charley is in. Sort of. I know that Travels with Frankie would be a very different book than Travels with Charley — and so would Travels with Sadie, I’d bet. But that’s what good books are about; they take us to different places.
You are a dear lady to include Dog Jaunt in this excellent list. Thank you for that, and thank you, thank you for pointing me to Dog Walks Man and Following Atticus — how could I have missed them?!
You’re very welcome — and now you’re officially committed to taking part in the book club when we discuss those books.
We so appreciate being included in this fantastic list. (And I’m happy to know that you’re enjoying your Galaxy, too!) We’re big fans of your new book club, and now I have to run so I can finish the book by next week. 🙂
I love Dog Jaunt and Take Paws…and I just won a copy of Following Atticus (that we can’t wait to read by the way because it is about an adventurous small dog) from Life with dogs. Lookie me…..and I am almost through your list 🙂
Well now you just have to read Travels with Charley so you can take part in the book club next week 😉
Seriously, I was hoping I could get you to comment in some way about your adventures with your doxies, maybe even discussing them in relation to those of Tom and Atticus. I’ll be in touch!
Many dogs make wonderful traveling companions. Match that with a wonderful writer and you’ve created magic. Some of the blogs you’ve mentioned are among my favorites. And I look forward to checking out the others.
BTW, I just loved John Zeaman’s book. It was so beautifully written and I kept wanting to share it with someone. I read passages aloud to my husband.
And I was thrilled to learn the Meadowlands is as magical a place as I alway thought it was passing over it on my way to NYC. I hope it’s on your list to review.
Absolutely I’m going to discuss Dog Walks Man — in fact I think it’ll be my next selection though John Zeaman didn’t answer the email in which I told him I wanted to feature it and suggested he ask his publisher to provide a discount for book club members. I liked the book so well that I’m going to stifle my usual feelings vindictive hurt that follow such a rebuff. Speaking of vindictiveness, I always envisioned the Meadowlands and the place where they buried the bodies, possibly Jimmy Hoffa’s. It would never have occurred to me to go there, and that’s one of the reasons I like Dog Walks Man so much.
Delighted to learn about some new pet related writing, and SO looking forward to your walks through A Traveler’s Library with all those “dog takes man/woman on a trip” books.
I’m psyched too — it’s a fun exercise to look at these books from two different perspectives.
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