"In the mountains Atticus became more of what he'd always been, and I became less--less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried.Read more...
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"In the mountains Atticus became more of what he'd always been, and I became less--less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried. I felt comfortable letting him lead, and he seemed to know what I needed. He always chose the best route, if ever there was a question, and my only job was to follow."
Middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire's four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. Little did they know that their most difficult test would lie ahead, after they returned home. . . .
At the heart of this remarkable journey is an extraordinary relationship that blurs the line between man and dog, an indelible bond that began when Tom, following the advice of Atticus's breeder, carried the pup wherever he went for the first month of their life together. "Following Atticus" is ultimately a story of transformation: how a five-pound puppy pierced the heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman, opening his eyes to the world's beauty and its possibilities. It was a change that led to a new life among the mountains; an unforgettable saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family; and an inspiring tale of finding love and discovering your true self.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-08-15
- Reviewer: Staff
Journalist Ryan shares the heartwarming, surprisingly suspenseful story of his bond (and adventures) with his intrepid and loyal miniature schnauzer, Atticus Maxwell Finch. Mourning a friend who has recently died, Ryan decides to hike all 48 of the 4,000-foot peaks of the White Mountains twice in the 90 days of winter—with Atticus. Despite contracting Lyme disease, Ryan and his faithful companion embark on their journey and face a host of dangerous storms, fierce winds, and temperatures registering 30 degrees below zero. Their greatest challenge, however, arises not on a mountain but in the veterinarian’s office where it’s discovered that five-year-old Atticus has cataracts and presumed thyroid cancer and requires surgery. Through their love for the mountains they climb and their devotion to each other, along with some good luck, the pair are able to continue doing what they love the most—being together. Part adventure story, part memoir, but most important, a love story, this entertaining and joyous book proves that dog really is man’s best friend and vice versa. (Oct.)
The divine canine
They’re so much more than man’s best friend. These days, dogs occupy privileged places in our hearts and homes, improving us as humans and making our lives more purposeful. As the books here show, the love of a good canine can cure almost any ailment.
DIARY OF A DOG LOVER
When Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, adopted a golden retriever puppy named Scout, she blogged about her canine-related experiences on the paper’s website. Her posts proved surprisingly popular, prompting responses from readers around the country. We’ve got good news for Abramson’s followers: Her beloved blog has inspired a full-blown book, The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout.
In this wonderfully engaging narrative, Abramson documents the ups and downs of Scout’s first year. It’s a time of adjustment, as Abramson and her husband, Henry, struggle with a bad case of the empty nest blues made worse by the loss of their previous dog. Scout fills these voids, and then some, but she comes with a catch—a boisterous nature that suits Abramson’s country house in Connecticut but poses problems in her New York City loft. Exasperated by the challenges of raising a dog in an urban setting and by Scout’s bad habits (you name it, this puppy’s done it: chewing shoes, barking at mealtimes, relieving herself indoors), Abramson turns to behaviorists for help. The story of how she molds Scout into a compliant, city-dwelling creature will give hope to anyone who owns a problematic pooch. Along with humorous anecdotes and can’t-be-beat memories, Abramson offers sound counsel on breeding, adoption and diet, making this an invaluable guidebook as well as a sweet valentine to a lovable canine.
INTO THE WILD
As the man behind the Newbury, Massachusetts, newspaper The Undertoad, Tom Ryan played the role of roving reporter for a decade. In 2007, ready for a change, he sold the publication and relocated to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his miniature schnauzer pal, Atticus M. Finch. The move opened up new vistas for the pair—both literally and figuratively—inspiring the incredible adventures that Ryan recounts with flair in Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship.
Stirred by the majestic terrain of his new home and moved by the death of a close friend from cancer, Ryan forms a plan to raise money to fight the disease: With Atticus by his side (accoutered in booties and fleece-lined bodysuit), he tackles the intimidating peaks of the White Mountain Range, climbing all 48 of them twice as a charity fundraiser. Up in the mountains, the two contend with frigid temperatures, snow and wind, and there are times when the weather makes progress impossible. It’s at these moments that Ryan’s affection for his pint-sized companion, who possesses courage and pluck of epic proportions, is most endearingly apparent. Not long after their return from the peaks, Atticus experiences serious health problems. What transpires for him and for Ryan on their home turf is just as extraordinary as their mountain journey. Following Atticus is an intriguing story of growth, possibility and the one-of-a-kind camaraderie that exists between man and dog.
SALVATION WITH A FURRY FACE
Julie Klam has had lots of experience in the dog department. Her best-selling memoir, You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness (2010), was a delightful account of the way her under-populated personal life was enriched by a dog named Otto and grew to include a husband, daughter and small brood of adopted Boston terriers. Klam’s latest release, Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself, exhibits the same humor and narrative panache that made her last book so appealing.
With her wry, honest style in full swing, Klam shares personal tales of dog rescue and rehab that read, at times, like adventure stories. Traveling to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Klam finds herself in a swamp assisting with the retrieval of a feral puppy who has a jar jammed on his head. A Manhattan rescue named Morris—a burly pit bull—helps resuscitate the author’s fragile marriage. Another adoptee, a Boston terrier called Clementine, has a major (and messy) incontinence problem and a spirit so cheery that Klam can’t help but be inspired by her. At bottom, these stories share a single sentiment—that pets in general (and dogs in particular) have a rejuvenating effect on the human spirit. This is a lovely little book that will strike a chord with just about any breed of animal lover.
HOME IS WHERE THE DOG IS
Globetrotting photographer Art Wolfe has aimed his lens at just about every kind of animal imaginable—canines included, of course. In fact, photographing dogs and the people who own them has been a pet (pardon the pun) project of Wolfe’s since 1984, when he snapped images of kids and their four-legged friends while on assignment in Tibet. Wolfe’s favorite dog-and-owner shots are showcased in the breathtaking new book Dogs Make Us Human: A Global Family Album. Remarkable for its reach and diversity, this international gallery features poodles and Pomeranians, purebreds and mutts, dogs that hunt and dogs that defend—canines of every conceivable breed and demeanor. Ditto the owners.
Along with captivating images from every continent, this unique collection contains text by best-selling author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, who examines the incomparable bond between man and dog. “Our relationship with dogs is the single most important symbiotic relationship between humans and another species on the planet,” he says. Wolfe’s photos support this statement. Standout images include a Yorkie in Tokyo perched on the seat of a moped, and a chihuahua in Seattle whose sunglasses and leather cap parallel its owner’s outfit—or lack thereof. If you’re trying to convert a cat lover, this collection should do the trick.
P.S. FROM A SPECIAL PET
With Letters from Angel, Martin P. Levin offers a touching tribute to a much-missed pooch. After he was forced to put Angel, his golden retriever, to sleep, Levin decided to share her story with the world, producing this slender but substantial book. Told from Angel’s perspective in a series of letters, the narrative provides a dog’s-eye view of daily existence that’s utterly enchanting. Angel is frightened of fireworks, finds cabdrivers unmannerly and adores Mrs. Levin’s home-cooked lamb chops. She uses the letters to share memories—not all of them happy—of her pre-Levin life. Her take on humans and the world they inhabit is irresistible. Illustrated with delightful black-and-white line drawings, this is a book you can breeze through in a single sitting, but it’s better savored slowly.