BOOKS: The Dogs Who Came to Stay

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1996:

The Dogs Who Came to Stay
by George Pitcher
Dutton Books (375 Hudson St., New
York, NY 10014),
1995, 163 pages, $18.95, hardcover.

If you enjoy reading about dogs,
but don’t expect much from their guardians,
here’s a book for you. George Pitcher has
written a biography of two dogs, Lupa and
Remus, that will have you smiling for the
dogs while crying for the author.
A pregnant Lupa arrives and produces
a litter of seven pups. Six are given
away, while the runt, Remus, and his
mother win the hearts of Pitcher and his
housemate, who predictably doesn’t want to
keep any animals.

All dogs can charm, and these two
certainly do––as much for what their adoptive
parents put them through as for anything
they do themselves. Two trips across
the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth II and
around the south of France highlight the
love it must take to be Pitcher’s dog.
The author’s upper crust lifestyle
doesn’t connect emotionally with the dogs’
stories. References to art or fine wine add
nothing; readers will find themselves shaking
their heads far too often. Remus, for
instance, is not neutered until he is 13:
“The thought of Remus without testicles
would have struck me as quite horrible, “
writes Pitcher, who meanwhile takes him to
a fancy French restaurant only to have him
“creep toward a beautiful blond cocker
spaniel bitch” in the middle of dinner. He
allows the dogs to chase deer and cats on
their walks; one assumes leashes are hard to
come by in Princeton, New Jersey. And
when Lupa disappears on a visit to
friends––now elderly, and vision-and-hearing-impaired
after a brain seizure––Pitcher
searches for her only “between each course
of our uneasy dinner.”
––Joseph Connelly

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