Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Times-Picayune on "Dogs I Have Met"

The Times-Picayune has a review today of my new book. Here's what Susan Larson had to say about the new book:

In his 2006 memoir, "The Dogs Who Found Me," Ken Foster introduced readers to his beloved Brando, the giant brindle Dane/pit mix who appears as the coverdog of his new book, "Dogs I Have Met and The People They Found." Brando's canine companions in Foster's New Orleans home are Zephyr, a Rottweiler mix, and Sula, a pit bull who will change any preconceptions you have about the breed with her first sloppy kiss. Foster's loving portrait of those dogs -- his companions through Sept. 11, 2001, a near fatal heart problem and Hurricane Katrina -- is a study in the steadfastness of mutual heartfelt affection.

In the book's sequel, "Dogs I Have Met and the People They Found," Foster chronicles more dog adventures, many of which came as a result of that book. He includes letters responding to his book, little reminders of the ties that bind dog lovers across time and geography. And he continues his campaign to dispense good information about worthy projects across the country.

The chapter, "Dogs on Desire Street: A Dog's's Eye View of the Recovery," offers a canine perspective on post-Katrina New Orleans, a warm tribute to his Bywater neighborhood and the visitors to Markey Park, where, Forster writes, "Throughout the day, it is possible to see one human or another standing at the gate to the park, yelling, 'Stella! Stella!' "

The travels Foster recounts in this book include visits to Costa Rica, where he forms a relationship with Duque, a dog that will win his heart but come to a sad end; to New York, where Foster, a carnivore himself, shares a vegan dinner, but begins to feel "like a social experiment"; and, most memorably to Oakland, Calif., where he does a fundraiser for the San Francisco SPCA and attends a BAD RAP conference, put on by a Bay Area organization of pit bull advocates who enforce high standards of training; and to Chicago, where he does a book-signing in a Kiehl's store. There, he writes, "I spend the afternoon watching well-dressed women arrive, seeking eye cream. They find two red-nosed pit bulls waiting to greet them instead. " Surprise, surprise! (In a useful list of resources at the back of the book, Foster describes the company's commitment to animals.)

Foster confronts head-on folks' fears about pit bulls and dog attacks, and writes of his own experience of being mauled by a beagle. Who'd have thought? But Snoopy has a powerful public relations machine, no?

What is so moving about "Dogs I Have Met" is Foster's own gentle humor, his sense of human frailty, of aging; when Foster describes his hysteria at finding his own beloved pets taking down a possum or a raccoon or a slow squirrel, you're right there with him, shrieking inwardly. And when he notices, "In Dog Years," that time is growing short, as time always does, we feel the intensity of the fleeting moment, in all its pain and pleasure.

"Dogs see us through more than they put us through," Foster writes, and he should know. This graceful meditation on the strength of our canine connections is an inspiration and a joy.

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