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An A–Z of Exceptional Dogs

An A–Z of Exceptional Dogs

Mikita Brottman
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In this charming bestiary of exceptional dogs, Mikita Brottman reflects on the role dogs play in our world, all explored through her relationship with her dog Grisby and many other examples of the dogs of great writers and artists from literature, lore, and life. While gradually unveiling her eight-year love affair with her French bulldog, Grisby, Mikita Brottman ruminates on the singular bond between dogs and humans. Why do prevailing attitudes warn us against loving our pet “too much”? Is her relationship with Grisby nourishing or dysfunctional, commonplace or unique? Challenging the assumption that there’s something repressed and neurotic about those deeply connected to a dog, she turns her keen eye on the many ways in which dog is the mirror of man. The Great Grisby is organised into twenty-six alphabetically arranged chapters, each devoted to a particular human-canine union drawn from history, art, philosophy, or literature. Here is Picasso’s dachshund Lump; Freud’s chow Yofi; Bill Sikes’s mutt Bull’s Eye in Oliver Twist; and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel Flush, whose biography was penned by Virginia Woolf. There are royal dogs, like Prince Albert’s greyhound Eos, and dogs cherished by authors, like Thomas Hardy’s fox terrier, Wessex. Brottman’s own beloved Grisby serves as an envoy for sniffing out these remarkable companions. Quirky and delightful, and peppered with incisive personal reflections and back-and-white sketches portraying a different dog and its owner, The Great Grisby reveals how much dogs have to teach us about empathy, happiness, love―and what it means to be human.

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