The first year after I gave birth to Riley, I mean, got him from a family who was allergic to him, I took him to the dog park at Down’s Field everyday. Since much of Brookline doesn’t have lavish yards, we have lots of parks, and during certain hours of the day, those parks are ruled by dog people and their beloved’s. That’s where I met Matthew Gilbert, smart, handsome, dad to adorable yellow Lab,Toby, and tv critic for the Boston Globe. I liked him immediately. Truth be told, I might have even had a little crush on him.
Anyway, I met some really nice people that year, who were transplanted from their home field, by some construction at their usual park, Amory. I met Lee and Gilson and Bob, Angela, Ellen and Matt, to name a few. Dog people are a different breed. We all share something in common: an uncommon, and somewhat out of the dog park passion for our pups. We will talk incessantly about their high IQ’s, pick up their poop without flinching, find them endlessly amusing and adorable. We will allow them to use our legs as fire hydrants, walk around with crinkly bags and biscuits in our pockets, and invest in lint brushes to tame the myriad of hair that covers our wardrobes. To us, they aren’t animals, they are people. The very best kind of people.
Anyway, all those years back, Matt told me he was writing a book about the dog park. I couldn’t believe what a great idea that was. It was such a rich and funny little microcosm. Well, five years later, Off the Leash, A year at the Dog Park is out, and because I have to travel to a funeral in DC today, and wanted a treat to pull me through, I have waited until now to read it (although I bought it on Kindle the day it came out two days ago, and allowed myself to gobble up the first two chapters, which I found to be beautifully written, funny, and smart).
Last night I went to Matt’s book party at Bar Louie’s, where hundreds of people swarmed Matt like the dogs at the park swarm even a tiny bit of leftover food that doesn’t quite make it into the trash can, and where I finally met his handsome and charismatic husband, Tom (who I might also have a crush on). I saw several dog people I knew, had a great conversation with someone I never get to see, and had a glass of really good wine. It was really nice to see the dog community coming together to celebrate and support one their own.
If you’re a dog person, or just a person who loves good writing, you need to get Off the Leash. The cover alone, of the adorable Toby and one of my favorite dogs, now in puppy heaven, Rosie, is enough reason to buy it, but it’s really the story of the way a dog can transform your life that will make you love it. Riley gives it five woofs, I mean stars.