The Golden Haze of Dogtripping
“The face of a golden retriever feels like home.” In hot, sleepy August we all want to vacation and get away from petty schedules. We need to find a place that feels more like home than our mundane routines. In author David Rosenfelt’s view, that sense of home could be adopted, soft-eyed, warm, covered with golden fur, pushing you off the bed, and taking up your recliner while you try not to disturb its loud, snoring slumbers. His nonfiction book Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure and detective novel Hounded display not only comic and lighthearted writing, but also a heartfelt dedication to canine comfort and well-being in a world that can treat them as a disposable piece of trash.
Rosenfelt and his wife Debbie Myers fell in love with a golden retriever named Tara, who died in their arms when they had to put her down. In her honor, they started a California rescue organization called the Tara Foundation in the 1990s, which rescued lots of older, bigger dogs from overloaded California shelters. While it gave an automatic priority to any golden mixes in honor of the beloved Tara, it took all sorts of dogs that shelters considered automatic euthanasia prospects. Rosenfelt and Myers began to accumulate a humorously huge collection of older dogs that they refused to leave in high-kill shelters.
In Dogtripping, Rosenfelt, a refugee from a Hollywood marketing and TV writing career, pens a memoir of the dogs they placed in homes and kept for themselves. This personal narrative of the dogs they have loved intertwines with an account of The Trip, their monumental decision to transport their family of 25 California dogs to a home in Maine, where the dogs would have a lake and lots of room to run around.
After deciding that RVs would best move the dogs, they received offers to help prepare and drive the RVs across country from rescue organizations, readers of Rosenfelt’s detective novels, and friends. This undertaking comprises many of the book’s vignettes, which are hilarious and touching. Along the way, they receive help from David and Debbie’s contacts, who throw open hotels and yards for the use of their guests. The group’s quest to reach Maine proves that there are people out there willing to do almost anything for the furry creatures who make human lives richer. When placed against the dire realities and actions that lead to dogs ending up at shelters, this book is an uplifting read that shows our human capacity to cherish our canine betters.
In addition, Rosenfelt has slowly built a base of dog-loving mystery readers through his series of thrillers featuring an acerbic defense attorney named Andy Carpenter, who runs a golden retriever dog rescue foundation called the Tara Foundation. In Hounded, the latest in the series, the deadpan, sardonic Carpenter finds himself in yet another conundrum: one that may make him mature emotionally quicker than he would like. The gone-straight criminal friend of a respected cop, Pete Stanton, has been murdered in a house while the friend’s eight-year-old son, Ricky Diaz, and his bassett hound, Sebastian, hide in another room. The upstanding Stanton has been accused of the murder.
Carpenter has assembled an eccentric cast of characters over the years who make connections and help him track down clues. His girlfriend, Laurie Collins, also acts as his private investigator. She makes the executive decision to take in the young Ricky and his dog so that he does not have to go into foster care at once. Sebastian and Tara become friends, so Ricky transitions well. Carpenter strives to get Stanton cleared after the culprits have planted heroin in his apartment to make him a fall guy. Carpenter’s research along the trail finds that dog euthanasia and a murder ring are involved.
In the mean time, Ricky has been finding a place in the reluctant, Carpenter’s home, playing video games, taking the dogs for walks, and generally endearing himself to Carpenter’s number one pistol-packing mama, Laurie Collins. By the end of the book, an intricate trail has led Carpenter to a shocking reason why Pete Stanton has been framed, and an unusual denouement. Yet on a personal level, he must also determine whether being a father and part of a real family suits him, a man who has always been comfortable keeping people at arm’s length through his humor and cynicism.
David Rosenfelt writes with a very self-deprecating, funny style that luckily has enough sarcasm to keep his affection from being saccharine. Yet his love for his canine co-stars shines through. For those who adore dogs, look no further for additions to your reading list. If you also want a funny, laugh-out-loud beach book, these works are for you.
Alexandria is a city that cherishes and celebrates dogs. From socializing at Doggy Happy Hours at the Hotel Monaco to getting their nails cut at the Olde Towne School for Dogs, our pampered pooches get their needs met. I would recommend one pet care service in particular, however. Thomas Schantz has run For the Love of Dog (www.fortheloveofdog.info) for the past eleven years. Having worked with him for some years, I know his deep-seated affection for dogs and commitment to rescue animals locally and even globally. He will be opening a pet-themed store in the area later on this year as well.
Schantz lists some good local shelters and rescue organizations in the part of his site titled “Community.” He also endorses the local operation Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation (www.lostdogrescue.org) as a worthwhile option in the Washington, DC area.
Please consider rescuing an animal, whether purebred or mutt. As David Rosenfelt points out in his books, senior dogs are less likely to be adopted, so think about them as a wonderful, laidback alternative that will snuggle and adore you to your heart’s content.
Written by: Miriam R. Kramer