Dog Tales is a canine-loving book group in San Francisco that has been meeting for a few years now. The idea came from a woman who couldn’t have a dog due to her aging and opinionated cat, but who wanted to stay connected with fellow dog lovers.
She mentioned the idea to Sally Stephens, head of San Francisco Dog Owners Group (SFDOG), and within a month six people who love both dogs and books had found each other and begun reading. Our first meetings were held at bookstores, but gradually we moved on to more intimate settings. These days we meet in members’ homes and our evenings together include potluck dinners.
Our first book was Mark Doty’s Dog Years, still an all-time favorite.
We’ve read most of the contemporary dog bestsellers – like The Story of Edgar Sawtell, Merle’s Door, Timbuktu, and The Art of Racing in the Rain – but like to mix it up with classics by the likes of Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, James Thurber, and James Herriott.
We have read our fair share of animal behavior books, too, like Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation, Susannah Charleson’s Scent of the Missing, and an anthology called Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them. We have kept up on dog politics with Michael Schaffer’s One Nation Under Dog, Nathan J. Winograd’s Redemption, and a current must-read about San Francisco’s on-going battle with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department for more off-leash dog access to park lands: Unleashed Fury: The Political Struggle for Dog-friendly Parks by Julie Walsh.
To lighten our spirits, we’ve read John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie and dog detective novels. The group adored This Dog for Hire, the Rachel Alexander and Dash mysteries by Carol Lea Benjamin.
We meet every six weeks and choose as a group what our next book will be. Alternating among different genres and styles keeps things interesting.Fortunately, there is never a shortage of good dog books to share and enjoy. We’ll be interested in reading titles recommended in other Bay Woof readers!