A DOG CALLED PERTH: The True Story of a Beagle

Peter Martin, Author
Peter Martin, Author . Arcade $20 (206p) ISBN 978-1-55970-597-4
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It's possible that those who have never shared their days with a dog might find this deeply personal paean to a precocious beagle somewhat twee. Chances are, however, they'll find themselves caught up in the love story, converts to the world of dogs and the people whose hearts they capture. Martin, an English-literature scholar (A Life of James Boswell), pulls out all the stops in detailing the 21 years he and his family shared with Perth, a strong-willed pet who was, if the author is to be believed, a god among dogs—always clean (with her own sweet "groggy-doggie" smell), fiercely loyal, impossibly intelligent (she learned 18 tricks in mere days) and totally trusting. Plucked as a pup from a kennel in upstate New York, the canine heroine of the story follows the Martins through teaching appointments in Ohio and Florida before accompanying them to a small village in Britain for the last half of her life. It's a charming memoir that gains almost adventure-story momentum when Martin describes his family's frantic search for Perth, who ran away from her Vermont caretakers during a summer the Martins spent abroad. The beagle survived months in the wilderness and found shelter at an isolated fishing camp before being reunited with her owners. Martin narrates this melodramatic chapter in the lives of a dog and her humans with a grace that could well bring tears to a soft-hearted reader's eyes. (Nov.)

Forecast:There are nearly as many books about dogs as there are fleas looking for a place to feast, but this one, handsome enough to stand out as a point-of-purchase impulse buy, begs to be hand-sold by booksellers.

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